I’d already quit studying metaphysics very much (see last post) when I was introduced to yoga nidra so I chose not to read about it. When a friend forwarded an e-mail about an evening yoga nidra session I felt instantly drawn to it. The e-mail told me that it was a meditation and that it relaxes you so deeply it gives your body the rest equivalent of 6-8 hours of sleep but not much else. The studio that held the event apparently assumed everyone already knew all about it so they gave no explanation and seemed nonplussed by any questions that indicated I didn’t already know all about it.
I loved the meditation experience—though needless to say I had no interest in going back to that studio—so I looked on line and chose a CD that I really love, Experience Yoga Nidra by Swami Janakananda. At the time there weren’t nearly as many choices as there are now. My one caution is that not very many have the whole yoga nidra, even if it says “long version”.*
I committed myself to it and nearly every day for over a year (yes, I missed a day sometimes) I practiced yoga nidra, usually the long version, but also the short. The restful impact quickly took effect so that I had to make sure to do it early enough that it didn’t interfere with sleep. I also found it a great exercise in mindfulness as the practice is long and moves quickly from one point of attention to the next. If your mind is wandering or tuning out you can’t stay with it so you have to stay focused with a quiet mind if you want to complete the entire practice.
Energy flows where attention goes. Yoga nidra directs your attention to various points on your body, different feeling states, up and down your chakras, through different times of day, connection with nature, out into the universe and to the divine essence within. Since it follows attention, your energy goes through your body, your senses, your chakras, the outer world, the universe and your god self during the course of the practice. By the end I feel that my energy has expanded out to the edges of the universe and is one with everything. More than any other practice it leaves me detached from my ordinary sense of self.
There are other, more subtle, effects, but the great detachment is the most profound for me and I think it’s the source of the deep rest you receive. I’m sure there are plenty of folks who’ve read every book and can explain it up one side and down the other but I’m happy with what I felt from my deep personal experience in practicing for that year. It’s not a daily practice for me any more but every time I do it I love it all over again.
*And since the parts are called by different names it’s hard to tell if it’s all there.