Yoga nidra is an advanced stage of deep meditation that takes the yogi out of the waking state of life, past the dreaming state, and into a state of a deep yet conscious yoga sleep. Different methods can be used to reach the yoga nidra, and once reached, all visualization, thoughts, emotions and other mental activities are left behind. This allows the mind to purify itself of all negative energies, negative emotions and unwanted habits.
Unlike a normal sleep, yoga nidra allows one to remain fully conscious while being in a deep delta sleep. The experiences that take place during this advanced stage can be fully recalled by the yogi at a later time. It is helpful for one to practice yoga nidra with guided meditation and visualization techniques until the mind is stronger and able to stay more focused.
The session is done in a corpse position, known as the savasana, and it begins with a regular form of meditation. While breathing deep, the attention is drawn toward the outer body and then gradually moved inward and into the chest, continuing to go deeper until the yoga nidra is reached. During the journey, the mind consciously travels and explores the three states of consciousness, which are waking, dreaming and sleeping. As the mind focuses inward and into the chest, it slowly loses awareness of the outside world, including the body, the breath and eventually the mind.
At the yoga nidra stage, there is no visualization, because all thoughts are without form. This allows the mind to fully explore the unconscious and remove all tension, anxiety, negativity and destructive habits. In this way, the mind is able to make room for new habits and a new way of thinking to be developed.
Other benefits include relief from physical, mental and emotional stress. It improves the quality of sleep, increases energy levels, strengthens the mind and reduces the symptoms of chronic diseases. The meditation also is beneficial for pregnant women and their unborn babies, as well as for children who are more than 8 years old.
It takes quite a bit of practice and a focused mind in order to reach the advanced stage of yoga nidra. Other yoga styles can help with training and strengthening the mind through different forms of meditation. After it has been mastered, one can continue on the journey to a higher spirituality by moving on to dream yoga and other advanced yoga styles.