Many Approaches to Yoga Nidra, The Yoga of Sleep

Written by on December 1, 2020 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

Photo by David Newkirk

Yoga Nidra is the yoga of sleep: its goal is samadhi, experiencing yourself as Oneness and achieves this through a method of entering the Nidra mind state, the hypnagogic, in-between state, of waking and dreaming, through systematized relaxation and layered Awareness. Yoga Nidra is the meditative process of learning to identify yourself as Awareness itself. By layering your Awareness systematically through the maya koshas, or layers of illusion— what we typically identify as “us” such as body, emotions etc.— we come to experience our infinite Self, our True Self, that of Awareness itself. 


Just like in yoga asana schools, in Yoga Nidra there are many different approaches to practice setting the same condition for the same end. I approach my trainings with this essential principle: if you understand the big picture of Yoga Nidra—what it is, how it facilitates your own relationship to understanding Self, know some of its history, and the essential elements of why it works—then I believe you will use the principles, tools, and tactics that suit your teaching style the best to be the most effective for the individual needs of your students. That way, you will powerfully impact your students through the power of your own experience and voice and not a rote version of your teacher. There's no one “right” way to teach Yoga Nidra. That's why I think it's important to understand Yoga Nidra at its root to understand how each principle (like the using the koshas, for example) may effectively lead students to experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra. 


There are many ways that a teacher could facilitate Awareness through Yoga Nidra. My Yoga Nidra training approach is to leverage the koshas heavily as perhaps the most effective way to disidentify as ego and identify as Awareness itself. I teach myriad approaches to bring awareness to each kosha. For example, in the Anamaya kosha, one could use the 61-points of awareness in the body, or explore Awareness through the body by following the pattern of the homunculus, the parts of the body which have a ready access to the brain or in other words which those spots which are the most accessible for Awareness. After all, the Anamaya kosha is but one of the filters through which to practice experiencing yourself as Awareness. Also, I understand that the body is a powerful conduit for Awareness and can help to anchor other things like thoughts or emotions in a way that makes the information you may be aware of more salient and available. For example, one might inquire into an emotion and become curious to it in Awareness by also exploring which part of the body seems to resonate with that emotion. 

As for the application of the body scan, in the beach paradise meditation I used a basic body scan to help relax the body while bringing awareness to the Anamaya Kosha. As you pointed out, this is a meditation that uses the Anamaya kosha and Vijnanamaya kosha (both implicitly rather than explicitly) to gain a great sense of relaxed alertness. It's not a typical Yoga Nidra practice that I might teach in a class. 


I am confident that even if you don't think your voice is all that awesome, YOU have a special knowledge and approach to Yoga Nidra that people need to hear. There's only ONE of you and the world needs your approach to this vital practice. You will impact students in a very unique way that only you can, with whatever voice the Universe has given you. I'm sure your voice is awesome but in my training, I do go into depth how to use your voice as a tool to facilitate Awareness, you know avoiding serial gerunds, upturns, and sounding like the hold music at the bank 🙂.

Yes, you can certainly work on your voice in my training there's a module that assigns you some voice work to practice. You can start to cultivate your voice by simply recording yourself teach (even reading a script) and listen to the tone of your voice. 

Here's a link to another Yoga Nidra practice which I think you might enjoy. While not all Yoga Nidra practices need to explore each kosha to facilitate Awareness, this practice is a little more indicative of my regular way of teaching, one that employs using all the kosha. I hope you enjoy it. 


Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he's not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Yogi Times, Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.


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