What is Yoga Nidra?

How often do you go to bed exhausted but then wake up feeling lethargic and tired? When we climb into bed and just fall asleep, the body shuts down but it is not necessarily relaxed and therefore not really recharging. Yoga Nidra is the practice of bringing awareness to your relaxation so that every part of your body and mind fully relax. It is believed that just thirty minutes to one hour of Yoga Nidra is equivalent to 4 hours of deep sleep. 

Yoga Nidra, though it may just look like yogis going to class to nap, is an ancient practice of mental, physical and emotional relaxation, also known as yogic sleep or sleep with awareness. The intention is to experience a sleep-like state and the deepest possible relaxation while still in a deep meditative state of consciousness.

At a time when most of us are living at a fast pace with technology overload and lots of stress, the practice of Yoga Nidra can help transfer you to a state of harmony and encourage an overall feeling of well-being. Yoga Nidra can be a wonderful addition to your yoga practice or can be used by anyone to help with stress and sleep. It can also be the pick-me-up you need during the day; a kind of supernap to get you going again (though I wouldn't recommend practicing Yoga Nidra immediately after a meal or it's likely you'll just be practicing nidra (i.e sleep) without the yoga bit)!


There are many benefits that can be experienced from practicing Yoga Nidra. Among these are:

  • improved quality of your sleep and amount of sleep 
  • less chronic pain 
  • reduced anxiety
  • enhanced mental focus and attention span
  • improved creativity and whole brain functioning
  • more ease and peace of mind in daily life
  • helps create new neural pathways in your brain leading to healthy habits & routines


One of the best things about Yoga Nidra is that you don't need to have been practicing it for 30 years to feel the benefits, you don't need to sit for long periods of time, and you don't need any previous experience or skills. All you need to do is find a comfortable place to lay undisturbed for the duration of the audio. During a class (or audio guidance) the teacher will use techniques such as guided imagery and body scanning to alleviate muscular tension as well as mental and emotional stress. 

The following link is to a 30 minute Yoga Nidra audio that I find is a good introduction to the practice as is especially designed for new students 

Yoga Nidra - Beginners instructed by Swami Niranjananda Saraswati . 

Finally, Yoga Nidra is super relaxing. There's a fine line between the meditative state of conscious relaxation, and being asleep. The relaxing nature of this practice may encourage you to fall asleep before it finishes, especially if you're practicing at night, and that's fine! Don't feel guilty! Just enjoy the super deep sleep you'll slip into.




Press the Pause Button



When life is stressing you out and your mind is racing at a million miles an hour, press the pause button and tune into your breath. And I mean, really tune into it.

Notice if stress has made your breaths short and shallow. If you can (preferably not when you're driving!) close your eyes. Take 10 long inhales expanding down into your belly, and 10 full exhales. Quieten your racing mind and focus only on your breath.

When you're feeling reset, open your eyes and press play. Enjoy the rest of your day with a little more peace and calm.



But I can't even touch my toes...

One of the most common things I hear as a yoga teacher is 'I wouldn't be any good at yoga, I can't even touch my toes'.  


So let me begin with a question for you to consider: Do people start running because they can already run a marathon?? I've lost count of how many long distance runners I know who began their running career barely able to run to the mailbox. Similarly most of the yogis you see in magazines, online or in class did not begin yoga because they were already flexible.

Many people think that yoga is only for the flexible bodied and reserved for people that can fold themselves into something resembling a pretzel, however most yogis did not begin their yogi life already able to do all the poses. To begin a yoga practice it genuinely does not matter if you're able to touch your toes or not.  I never practiced dance or gymnastics, instead opting for the outdoor games/exercises such as field hockey, tennis, rounders (think baseball with Englishness) and more recently running. Years of running around in the cold and not enough post exercise stretching left me with limited flexibility (trust me I was a loooong way away from touching my toes!). However I'm thankful that despite my lack of flexibility, I still began yoga practice. I would dread to think where I would be without yoga as it's gently streching me back out over time, reversing the effects of my younger years. There are still days that I can't touch my toes, modern day life (desk work / stress / driving will do that) but that's no reason for me not to practice, in fact, it's one of reasons that I should go to my mat. 

So why not join me on a journey to toe touching? Wherever you happen to be on the road, resist the temptation to compare where you are to others and remember to be kind to yourself. 

"Yoga is not about touching your toes, it's about what you learn on the way down."

~Judith Lasater