Yog-Nidra is practiced while lying down – but you shouldn’t sleep, in fact you have to become fully alert. You have to lie down with the feet slightly apart and close the eyes and face the open palms upwards. You may rest your head on a small pillow. The room should be darkened and your surroundings should be neither too hot nor too cold, be comfortable. The whole body is to be relaxed. It is important to keep the body absolutely still and the eyes closed. There should be no movement at all.
When the whole body is fully relaxed and the mind is fully relaxed, then you plant the seed of a resolve in the subconscious mind. Whatever beneficial changes you wish for, in your life – knowledge, samadhi, good health – whatever you wish to achieve – this will be the subject of your resolve. However, the resolve should be from the realm of spirituality – because chasing the material world is what has caused stress in the first place! Yog-Nidra must always include an auspicious resolution.
In the first stage of Yog-Nidra, the entire consciousness is focused on the body – different parts of the body and finally to the breath. The movement of the inhaled breath is felt in the abdomen, chest and throat.
You are totally relaxed and you should keep reminding yourself that you will not fall asleep. However, even if you fall asleep during Yog-Nidra, it is alright – may be you have not slept for long due to stress. If someone falls asleep during Yog-Nidra there is nothing wrong in this, all it means is that the immediate requirement of the body is for sleep. In Yog-Nidra you will get what you need, when you need it.
The way to know that the conscious mind is not working is that the physical sensations cease to exist. You do not even realize where you are; you cannot tell whether the breeze is fragrant or has an offensive smell. As sleep approaches, external sensations and impulses diminish – what remains, is the ability to hear.
If you call out to a person in deep sleep, he will awaken. In the sleeping state, sound travels far with you. Therefore, you should not do Yog-Nidra on your own – use recordings and follow instructions.
The next stage is of visualization. When you dream, are you aware that you are dreaming? No, one cannot dream in the waking state – this happens only when you enter the state of sleep.
During the visualization process, when any object is named, you are to recall all the memories associated with that word. The body has memories of past experiences – of feeling heavy as well as light, of extreme heat and extreme cold. When we make contact with the deepest layers of the mind, these memories are evoked in order to make contact with the hidden samskaras (past mental impressions), to bring them to the surface.
After experiencing these physical sensations, finally, you will again be taken to the level of body awareness before the process of Yog-Nidra is over and you can then sit up.
All the steps in Yog-Nidra are scientifically designed and you should not bypass any step. It is an easy method but you must do it carefully and with understanding.
Points to remember:
Firstly, the body should be absolutely still and the eyes should be closed right through the entire process. Secondly, if you do not feel any sensation in a particular part of the body when asked to do so, do not get tensed. Thirdly, right at the start tell yourself that you are going to do Yog-Nidra and be determined not to fall asleep.
The resolve is taken at two times and it should be the same resolve – once at the beginning and then towards the end – and each time, it is to be repeated thrice – because it takes some time for any thought to take root in the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind exists at a very deep level; in order to reach it, it is necessary to repeat the resolve thrice.