Yoga Nidra: A Cornerstone Practice for Yoga Therapy by Michele Lawrence

Are you currently using yoga nidra in your personal practice or with your yoga therapy clients? If not, why?

Reported benefits of yoga nidra include reduction of stress, regulation of hormones, stabilization of glucose levels, management of pain, alleviation of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), decrease in addictive behaviors, reduction of anxiety and depression, and as an effective treatment for insomnia. And I can’t think of a practice that is more accessible, adaptable and readily available for just about anyone.

So what is yoga nidra exactly, and how does it work?

Yoga nidra literally translates as “yogic sleep.” The practice is typically done while lying down and invites the body to deeply relax while the mind stays inwardly alert. Swami Satyananda Saraswati, who developed the practice as a “relatively easy-to-learn meditation to be used by people of various backgrounds and cultures and independent of previous knowledge,” calls it “reaching the border between waking and sleeping states.”

Richard Miller, who further adapted the practice under the name iRest®, has helped proliferate the practice for Western audiences and has achieved much success in getting mainstream adoption by the US Military and among veterans organizations.

In addition to a guided relaxation and visitation of opposite qualities, at the center of the practice is a personal resolution or sankalpa, in order to “train the unconscious to sustainably achieve the desired state through regular mental repetition.” Studies show that when using such intentions during meditation, cognitive restructuring processes are stimulated. It’s said that for some people who regularly practice yoga nidra, the realization of this intention is more important than the relaxation part.

If you’d like to learn more about yoga nidra for your own personal knowledge, practice and empowerment, or to help you with your client work, we’d love to have you join us on March 4 & 11 for a two-part workshop where we will explore the therapeutic use of yoga nidra for health and healing. Karen Soltes, who taught iRest® Yoga Nidra for 8 years at the Washington DC VA Hospital as part of the Integrated Health and Wellness Program will be leading the workshop. The workshop will be part informational, part experiential and will also offer some take away tools like yoga nidra scripts and downloadable resources. Learn more and register here.

Yours in Yoga,

Michele Lawrence, Director

Inner Peace Yoga Therapy