Long ago I wrote about a year of yoga nidra practice and my ongoing love of it. At the time I began, the lingering effects of chronic fatigue still left me exhausted a good deal of the time and the “sleep” impact intrigued me.
The practice indeed helped remarkably with the constant fatigue and after the year I moved to spending more time on energy-building practices like Flying Crane Chi-Gung, the Eight Key Breaths and the Five Tibetan Rites. I still slipped yoga nidra in here and there but it became ever more sporadic.
As I struggle with the big shifts I’ve been trying to make, added to years of sleep deprivation due to my muscles, fatigue is more of a problem again and it finally occurred to me to circle back to yoga nidra. In the time since I first began I’ve fallen in love with the short version on my preferred recording, Swami Janakananda’s Experience Yoga Nidra. [On other recordings I’ve tried the long version isn’t as complete as this one and the short version is completely different]
I’ve hit the point in the shift where I’m finally getting up close to the time I’m aiming for, but then wandering around in a fog for hours as I’ve never had enough sleep (and I gather my internal clock hasn’t adjusted…). So later in the morning I’ve been frequently doing one of the two versions of yoga nidra and it’s definitely helping by restoring some rest as advertised.
Yoga nidra is a deep relaxation practice and the claims regarding sleep equivalence vary widely. Initially I was told that the long, 45 minute version equaled 6 hours of sleep, or 2 hours per 15 minutes. Since then I’ve seen it estimated at more like 1 hour per 15 minutes and I’d say that corresponds more to my experience. And there are other claimed variations from less to more. At this point I usually say the long one equals 3 hours and the short, 20 minute, version nets around an hour.
I also love the practice (1) because there are a LOT of fast-moving instructions and if you want to experience all of it you really have to stay mindfully with it. I’d say the year I spent practicing daily did more to help my mindfulness capacity than any mindfulness meditation I ever did and (2) because as your energy follows the flow you experience your whole body, shifting emotional states, chakras, connecting with nature and more, I feel a greater sense of detachment from my ordinary self than anything else has provided me.
I also like it because my low back has issues with sitting meditation practices and for yoga nidra you’re SUPPOSED to be lying down. Yea!
In 30+ years of learning, doing and often discarding practices, I’d say this one ranks as one of my total faves. There are some others I cycle in and out of, like the energy practices named above. And yoga, of course, has remained a constant since I took my first class starting in July, 1986.
If you have any issues with being sleep deprived and/or fatigued, I highly recommend this. Or if you need help with relaxation. Or mindfulness. What can I say, it’s an amazing practice! And I’m so happy to have cycled back to it.