“You are the presence that exists in your own heart.” -Rod Stryker
Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.
If you’re new to meditation or yoga (or even if you’re not), you probably want to start at the beginning. Yoga nidra, also known as dynamic sleep, prompts the body to relax deeply while the mind remains inwardly alert. Yoga nidra pioneer, Swami Satyananda Saraswati, refers to it as “reaching the border between waking and sleeping states.” We in the west might call yoga nidra the crossroads between alpha and delta brainwave states.
Yoga Nidra works by gently guiding you through four main stages of brain wave activity – beta, alpha, theta, and delta. In the end, the goal is to achieve a “hypnagogic state” — the state between wakefulness and sleep. It’s that magical time just before you fall asleep when the body rests while the mind is still reasonably lucid. Conscious thought then blends with dreams and a trippy reality sets in.
In order for this to occur, you have to transcend the four states. First, the guided meditation will take you through the active thinking that’s characteristic of the beta wave state (14-40 Hz). You’ll then pass through the relaxed, thoughtless alpha wave state (9-13 Hz).
From there, the yoga nidra meditation drops you deeper into the theta wave state (4-7.5Hz). Here, your thoughts slow down to 4 to 8 thoughts per second. In this state, super learning is within reach – that is to say, the ability to learn a large amount of material in a short period of time. Like hypnosis, this is also the state where negative thought patterns can be released. This makes the theta state a prime place to address bad habits — formed in old neural pathways — and change them up for the better — literally rewire the brain for good.
Finally, the guided meditation takes you to the delta state, where you have approximately 1 to 3.9 thoughts per second. Delta is known to be the most restorative state for the mind and body; the body taps into its own ability to heal, your organs regenerate, and the stress hormone cortisol is released from your body. Unfortunately, it’s all-too-common these days that people don’t achieve theta and delta sleep in any given night, so quite simply put, our bodies lack the opportunity to restore themselves entirely.
Perhaps one of the most profound yoga nidra experiences occurs once you achieve the farthest reaches of the delta state. In that state, the experience takes on a feeling of ‘thoughtlessness.’ Imagine how good it would feel to not think sometimes… After all, over-thinking is precisely what causes decision fatigue — those times when it feels nearly impossible to make a good choice because you’re actually overwhelmed by choice. Yoga nidra takes you out of that decision conundrum and resets your mind. For that reason, you might call this state the special sauce of yoga nidra.
How do you practice yoga nidra?
In a nutshell, you’ll want to lie down comfortably—you may desire a blanket to keep you warm or a block under your knees for support. The goal is to make yourself as comfortable as possible because you’ll be in this position for 30-60 minutes. First, you will set your Sankalpa or deepest intention for the practice. Then you will be asked to scan your body and notice sensations. You’ll become aware of your breath and the meditation will provide guided instruction as to how to breathe to drop deeper into your resting state. You’ll also embark upon guided visualizations of light. It’s at this point that the magic starts to happen as you drop deeper and deeper into those brain waves states.
At the end of the practice, you’ll reflect on the journey you’ve taken bringing awareness back to present reality and restating your Sankalpa. You’ll come into a seated position again to honor the space you’ve created, feeling deeply at peace.
Yoga nidra can be done at corporate events, private in-home events, yoga collaborations, wellness studios, and retreats. If you would like information about scheduling a group or private session, please contact me. Namasté.