Yoga Nidra : Introduction

Monday, November 30, 2009

In our modern day society, human life has become very fast, hectic and demanding. We often hear
people complaining that they are highly stressed, and if not controlled properly, negative stress may
manifest in the forms of physical, mental or psychological problems. In a bid to manage their stress
levels, many people are now turning to meditation, which has become a powerful tool in helping
people to achieve relaxation for both their mind and body. In my own experience, one meditation
technique that I have found to be easy to do, yet deeply relaxing is Yoga Nidra.


Yoga Nidra originates from ancient Tantric practices. The word “tantra” means to expand and to
liberate, and Yoga Nidra, like other tantric rituals consist of methods that seek to expand our
understanding of the depths of our mind. When we experience for ourselves the expansion of our
knowledge and insight, we are able to master our minds and thus freedom is gained. (Janakananda
While the yogis have known Yoga Nidra for thousands of years, the practice was revived when
Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger, eastern India, adapted
and presented it in a systematic and scientific way in the 1960s.

Yoga Nidra is a systematic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation.
While the relaxation is a very important aspect of Yoga Nidra, it is not the ultimate goal of the
practice. In line with tantric tradition, Richard Miller, a clinical psychologist and leading practitioner
of yoga therapy, says that Yoga Nidra is also a complete program of intensive self-inquiry, where we
carefully and thoroughly examine the nature of the structures and beliefs that mould our personal
identity. These structures, also known as sheaths, include the physical body, the energy body, the
sensation, feeling and emotional bodies, the bodies of thought and imagery, and the bodies of bliss and
personal ego identity. (Miller 2002)


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