You may wanna have a slight pillow underneath your head and you will likely want a blanket because your body temperature can drop during this practice. Make sure you’re in a room that’s quiet and that you’ve turned off any devices or created a space so that you will not be disturbed. We’ll begin the practice of Yoga Nidra by tuning in to your senses. First begin by tuning in to the sense of touch, noticing the way your body is resting on the floor, the connection of the back of your head to the ground, back of your neck and shoulders, your spine, hips, the backs of your legs. Just feel that connection to the Earth, to your support. And now tune in to the weight of the blankets, or the weight of your clothes. That sense of touch. And now begin to tune in to the sense of sound. Like wide angle lenses, let your ears take in the sounds outside of this room. And then begin to take in the sounds inside the room.
No need to name them or identify them, just let the vibrations come in. And perhaps you even are taking in sounds inside of your own body. Next step of the Yoga Nidra practice is setting your sankalpa. Sometimes this word is translated as an intention. But different than an intention that might be setting a goal to change or improve, this word sankalpa comes from the root san, truth, kalpa, a deep vow. And you’re really aligning your self with your deepest truth, you’re vowing to live your truth. So whatever pops up, it may not even be clear, but if there’s even just an essence, just let that float up. And you’ll state that three times, silently to yourself. And now we’ll begin a scan through the body where you’ll use your mind to bring attention and focus to the different body parts that I’ll name. The practice always starts with your right hand thumb, so bring all of your attention there, and then to the second finger, third, fourth, fifth, the palm of your right hand, the back of the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, armpit, waist, right hip, thigh, knee, lower leg, ankle, heel, sole of the right foot, right big toe, second toe, third, fourth, and fifth toe.
Now bring your awareness over to the left side of your body the left hand thumb, second finger, third, fourth, fifth, palm of the hand, back of the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, armpit, waist, left hip, thigh, knee, lower leg, heel, sole of the left foot, left big toe, second toe, third, fourth, and fifth toe. Now come to the back of the body, the back of the head, and shoulders, the right shoulder, and then left. Right shoulder blade, and left, right side of the spine, left side of the spine, right buttock, left buttock, back of the right leg, back of the left leg. Now bring your awareness all the way around now to the front of the body, first the forehead and eyebrow center, and then the right eyebrow, and left, right eyelid, and left, right eye, left eye, right ear, left ear, right cheek, left cheek, right nostril, left nostril, upper lip, lower lip, chin, chest, belly, front of the right leg, and front of the left leg.
Now bring your awareness to the whole right leg, the whole left leg, and then both legs together. The whole right arm, the whole left arm, and then both arms together. Now bring your awareness to the whole body from your head, arms, torso, and legs. Just bring your awareness to the whole body, the whole body, the whole body. As you breathe in just imagine that awareness expanding, the beautiful glowing cloud around you expanding on the inhale. And then bring that light right into your center on the exhale. With this expanding and contracting sense of your breath, begin counting your breaths backwards, from 18 to one, silently to yourself. Now create a sense of heaviness in your body, a deep sense of heaviness, like you’re just melting right into the surface of the Earth, like your body creating an imprint on the beach.
Now create a sense of lightness, like you’re floating on a cloud, just hovering right above the Earth. And now again a sense of heaviness, deep heaviness. And now imagine a light coming right from your forehead, from your third eye, like a beam of beautiful light, illuminating a journey. It’s a beautiful winter’s evening, but it’s cold outside. You’re inside by a fire, close enough to feel the warmth of that fire on your hands, on your face, even on your legs. Just feeling that deep warmth of the fire, soaking in that deep warmth. Then you start to notice the beautiful crackling sound of the fire popping, and the flickering golden, orange, and even some blue flames just dancing.
And you’re completely absorbed in this beautiful fire and then suddenly your gaze is lifted to the window where you see a completely different kind of light. From the window you see the rising full moon, this magnificent, silver light. As if it has a magnetic pull, you decide you just have to go outside and see and feel beautiful Luna, beautiful moon. So you bundle up with a coat and a scarf and you head outside. But the minute you step outside, you feel the cold air. Really piercing cold, just you feel it on your cheeks, on your fingers, cold breeze down your coat onto your neck. That deep, penetrating cold. You bundle up a little tighter, make sure you have your hat over your ears, zip up your coat and off you go, into the night. You thought you would need a flashlight, but that moment just standing in the cold and getting prepared has helped your eyes adjust and now you’re amazed at the silver light that surrounds you.
Almost feels like dusk, but it’s deep into the night. So you set out down a path near your house and soon you see the moon shadows casted by the moon in the trees and even your own form. And you stop for a moment to just take in the surroundings and just sense the deep quiet. But just as you’re absorbed in the quiet, you suddenly hear the sound of an owl. (owl hooting) A piercing call of the owl. You just let that wash through you. And then you suddenly catch the space where the owl’s sitting on a tree, not far from you. And you see the owl, you actually catch the eyes of the owl just looking down, completely still. And then with like a blink of the eye, the owl takes flight and begins to just swoop right over your head. Beautiful, graceful, and perfectly still flight. Decide to go a little farther to one of your favorite trees in this path, a giant, old cedar. You let your hand touch the sturdy trunk of this old tree and you feel the texture of the bark, somehow both soft and scratchy.
Feeling the stability of this tree, and then a wind picks up and the branches start to move and dance and you feel the movement of the tree. One of the branches comes close and you grab ahold of the bow and just pluck off a bit of the cedar and rub it in your fingers and just drink in that essence of cedar. In that moment you turn back around and lean your back against this beautiful tree and just reflect on this night full of light and dark, silence and sound, motion and stillness, and in it all, just a deep sense of beauty and awe. And then start to bring your awareness back to this room, this space. Begin to tune in to your senses.
Maybe you begin to hear the sounds in the room again. The room sounds outside. Maybe feeling the weight of your body on the Earth once again, or the weight of your clothes or the blanket covering you. And remember that intention, that sankalpa that you set at the beginning of the practice. And go ahead and state it again, three times, silently to yourself. And then when you’re ready you might begin to bring gentle movements of your fingers and your thumbs together, just creating that sense of touch. Maybe you begin to move wrists and ankles, gently bringing movement back into your body. And at your own pace you can gently roll onto your side, resting there for a moment. And at your own pace you can begin to make your way back to upright, to a seated position. And take some time to honor this space you’ve created, letting your mind and your being be silent.
And let yourself really expand into a new way of being. This is called the hypnagogic state and it can take a while before you feel like you’re all the way back. Enjoy this sweet, liminal space. And welcome back from your Yoga Nidra. Namaste.
As found on Youtube