I recently had the privilege of attending the ANYI retreat located just outside London. A transformational programme of progressive natural healing set in the tranquil countryside. Four days of breathing and yoga with Yoga Teacher Jess Horn and Breath Work expert Rebecca Dennis. Through a series of breath work, yoga, sound bath, wild swimming, healthy veggie meals and yoga nidra sessions I found a true sense of stillness and clarity. I especially enjoyed the deeply restorative evening Yoga Nidra session with Jess. I caught up with her to learn more about Yoga Nidra and its benefits.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is a deep, guided relaxation, it translates literally as 'Yogic Sleep' but that's a bit of a misnomer as its actually meant to be a 'conscious' relaxation. Ideally, the practitioner floats in the place, between sleep and wakefulness - the hypnogogic state, prior to where you fall asleep. It's an ancient practice, with references to it from the Sankyha Philosophy, going back as far as 700 BC! In our busy, modern lives, Yoga Nidra is a beautiful practice to help restore and balance us. For people that find it really hard to switch off, and for whom meditation might feel to challenging, Yoga Nidra can be a very welcome respite.
Is there a difference between Yoga Nidra and Meditation?
Yes, there are differences, although they are both meditative and inward looking practices. In Meditation we usually practice sitting up and focus the attention onto one point, or watch and witness our thoughts, (these are generalisations as there are many ways to practice meditation) but we maintain awareness and are in the Beta or Alpha brain waves.
Meditation is also often non guided, whereas, Yoga Nidra is usually practiced lying down and you are completely relaxed and surrendered, all you need to do is listen to the voice that is guiding you throughout.
What happens? Are you meant to fall asleep?
No, you're not meant, to fall asleep, although people often do!! Its said that even when you are asleep, you are still receptive to the benefits of the practice!
You are guided by someone through a process, (that varies according to the school of Yoga Nidra) into a deeply relaxed state, where you are said to be able to access the deep fertile soils of your sub-conscious mind and in this place we can set our intentions, helping us to work through self-limiting beliefs and patterns.
3 Benefits of Practicing Yoga Nidra.
- It can help release stress and anxiety, resulting in a calmer state and more energy
- Can help improve sleep, 20 mins has often been reported to give you the benefits of 4 hrs sleep!
- Increased clarity and focus
About Jess Horn
Jess has been teaching yoga for over 10 years and she can safely say that although her practice and the way she teaches has changed and evolved her passion for yoga hasn’t dimmed. Jess truly believes that the tools of yoga that we have available to us can be a catalyst for inner and outer peace, when the practice becomes our way of living.