Yoga Nidra refers to yogic sleep and yogic lucid dreaming. It has been practiced as a spiritual practice for millennia by ascetics and yogic practitioners. Of the three states of consciousness of waking, dreaming and deep sleep refer specifically to the conscious awareness of the deep sleep state, referred to as “prajna”. This is the third of the four levels of consciousness relating to the state represented by the M of AUM. The four states are waking, dreaming, sleep, and turiya, the fourth state. The state of Yoga Nidra, conscious deep sleep, is beyond or subtler than the imagery and mental process of the waking and non-lucid dreaming states. As a state of conscious deep sleep, Yoga Nidra is a universal principle, and is not the exclusive domain of any specific tradition.
The practice of yogic relaxation has been found to effectively reduce tension and improve psychological well being of people suffering from anxiety. The autonomic symptoms of high anxiety such as headache, giddiness, chest pain, palpitations, sweating and abdominal pain respond exceptionally well to yoga nidra. Practicing yoga nidra successfully decreases the time required to fall asleep, thereby curing insomnia.
Adherents of the Yoga Nidra as guided visualisation technique hold that half an hour of Yoga Nidra may yield the benefit of up to three hours of standard sleep, although the regular engagement of this practice as a sleep substitute is contraindicated as the bodymind still requires sufficient rest through standard sleep. This tradition of Yoga Nidra should not be conflated with techniques of autosuggestion and autogenous training, though there is a palpable commonality in process if not in application.
Through practice of Yoga Nidra, one achieves true relaxation. During the practice of yoga nidra, one appears to be sleeping, but the consciousness is functioning at the deeper level of awareness. It is sleep with a trace of deep awareness. It is a state of mind in between wakefulness and dream. Normally when we sleep, we loose track of our self and cannot utilize this capacity of mind. Yoga nidra enables the person to be conscious in this state and nurture the seed of great will power, inspire the higher self, and enjoy the vitality of life.
With constant practice of Yoga Nidra people have found that the technique restructures and transforms the whole personality from within. With every session of yoga nidra, one is actually burning the old habits and tendencies in order to be born anew. This process is quicker than other systems that work on an external basis. It is a most powerful method for reshaping the personality.