People in the East and the West are drawn towards yogic practices, as they believe that a solution to every problem lies therein. Much importance has therefore been associated with relaxation techniques that one thinks might help in easing the tension due to a stressful lifestyle.

Yoga Nidra is a technique that helps not only with physical or mental relaxation but also helps prepare the mind for spiritual discipline. It concerns primarily with pratyahara (withdrawing senses from sense-objects) and dharana (concentration).

It must be understood that ordinary sleep does not translate to complete relaxation, as tension and stress cannot be resolved completely in ordinary sleep. Yoga Nidra involves sleep where all the burdens are thrown away in order to achieve a more blissful state of awareness, and hence it is a relaxation much more intense than ordinary sleep.

Swami SatyanandaSaraswati (Preface to “Yoga Nidra”, 1982, Bihar School of Yoga, Monghyr, Bihar, India) said: ‘When awareness is separate and distinct from vrittis – mental modifications, when waking, dreaming and deep sleep pass like clouds, yet awareness of Atman remains, that is the experience of total relaxation. That is why, in Tantra, Yoga Nidra is said to be the doorway to samadhi!’

Yoga Nidra helps restore mental, emotional, and physical health through relaxation, and makes the mind more conducive to pratyahara, dharana, as well as meditation. It helps to harmonize two hemispheres of the brain and the two aspects of autonomous nervous system – sympathetic and parasympathetic. The impressions in the subconscious are brought to the surface, experienced and removed.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are my own).