Definition - What does Nidra mean?

Nidra is a Sanskrit term meaning "sleep." In yoga, yoga nidra is a meditation practice that induces a state of deep, but conscious relaxation. The goal of yoga nidra is to achieve a state of samadhi (intense concentration), enlightenment, or bliss. This is the same goal as every form of yoga and meditation.

It is said that the state of consciousness entered during yoga nidra is somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. In addition to referring to the practice itself, the term yoga nidra can refer to a state achieved through successful practice, wherein the practitioner becomes consciously aware that they are in a state of deep sleep.

Yogapedia explains Nidra

Yoga nidra is an ancient Hindu and Buddhist practice, which is even mentioned in the sacred Hindu text the Mahabharata. In modern times, the practice was spread by Satyananda Saraswati, who connected yoga nidra with tantric practices. His method of performing yoga nidra has eight stages:

  1. Internalization
  2. Sankalpa (intention or idea formed in the heart/mind)
  3. Rotation of consciousness
  4. Breath awareness
  5. Manifestation of opposites
  6. Creative visualization
  7. Sankalpa (wherein the original idea/intention is repeated mentally)
  8. Externalization

Although yoga nidra can be practiced independently, it is often practiced with a yoga teacher guiding students through its various stages. The student remains in a state of pratyahara, or withdrawal of the senses -- except for the sense of hearing, which follows the teacher’s instructions.

It is said that yoga nidra is effective for reducing symptoms of anxiety such as headache, giddiness and abdominal pain. It can be useful for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, as it may help them cope with their symptoms.

Yoga nidra can also be performed at the end of an asana practice, where it has the added benefit of cooling and calming the body, allowing it to absorb the effects of a completed yoga practice.

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