The history of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra (or yogic sleep) is a powerful meditative technique that’s proving particularly popular at the moment.

Using a poignant mixture of yoga, breathing exercises, and guided meditation, Yoga Nidra reportedly induces a physical and mental state that’s between sleeping and waking to unlock several deeply relaxing, self-awareness boosting benefits.

Yoga Nidra has the potential power to revolutionise your daily life and wider health and wellness, but it’s no new thing.

In fact, the practice is thought to be as old as yoga itself. Here we dig deeper into the history behind this not-so-modern craze…

Where it all began

While the origins of Yoga Nidra are much debated, most sources point to the practice beginning in 700 BC.

Yoga Nidra developed from Samkhya, a philosophy built on the premise of dualism, a belief that the world is made of two elements – matter and consciousness.

Whilst the deeper meaning of dualism is that when a person’s body dies, their consciousness moves onto a new body. In yoga practice, dualism is used to expand this consciousness to live a more enlightened existence.

Here Yogapedia explains more about the use of dualism in yoga and, more specifically, meditation:

“In terms of yoga practice, this is an important term to bear in mind while meditating. Knowledge of the duality of samkhya can allow the practitioner to understand the world around them and how they form part of it. In a way, it also shows how different parts of a human work and the functions they carry out.”

Yoga Nidra enables those practising to become aware of this dualism. By meditating between our sleeping and waking states, we can find the middle ground that will transform life in every way.

Yoga Nidra through the ages

Since its foundation, Yoga Nidra has been adopted by many cultures and with that adapted for the times.

While the primary objective of exploring your inner senses in a subconscious state and harnessing increased self-awareness in the process remained, the teachings of Yoga Nidra have been expanded upon to ensure deeper listening and understanding.

Yoga Nidra’s development in Buddhism is perhaps the most famous with Patanjali’s 8 limbed path of Ashtanga yoga identifying meditation or dhyana as the 7th limb.

From here, Yoga Nidra was transformed into the multi-faceted practice it’s known as today. Guided meditation, pratyahara or ‘withdrawal of the senses’, pranayama breathing techniques, and concentration-boosting dharana all play vital roles in the technique.

Yoga Nidra in the modern world

Deep rest and relaxation is needed now more than ever as our increasingly frantic, high-tech world leaves less and less time for recuperation. This may be one of the reasons why Yoga Nidra has become popular in recent years.

There are many advantages of practising Yoga Nidra regularly. The calm, relaxing, rejuvenating and soothing effect reduces daytime fatigue yet prepares you for the most restful sleep.

Yoga Nidra has also been linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, strong immunity, effective natural pain relief, and better brain function. It’s proved effective when treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, addiction, and even PTSD, thanks to a system based on Yoga Nidra that was developed by psychologist Richard Miller.

For people from all walks of life, Yoga Nidra is providing a whole new way of being. Through the healing technique, you experience a sense of wholeness and inner trust that means you can fall in love with yourself, and that can only be a great thing right?

Whether you want to realise its benefits for the first time or deepen your practice with some expert guidance, our 4-week Yoga Nidra programme is for you.

We’re co-hosting a series of weekly classes throughout March with IYogaa so you can introduce this deeply relaxing and restorative practice to your home.

To find out more about our Yoga Nidra – Deepen Your Practice course or book your tickets please click here.