Yoga Nidra

What is it?

Yoga Nidra is an extremely effective method of relaxing. Most of us live with chronic tensions that are the cause of all the agony we experience in modern life. Yogic philosophy, along with modern psychology, refers to three basic types of tensions. These are physical, emotional and mental tensions. Even in deep sleep, we carry these tensions.

The physical tensions are related to the body itself, the nervous system and endocrine imbalances. With Yoga Nidra, these tensions are easy to remove.

The emotional tensions come from various dualities such as love / hate, win / loss, success / defeat, happy / unhappy and so on, and these are more difficult to remove. This is because we are not able to express our feelings freely and openly. We sometimes refuse to acknowledge them, and rather suppress them. As a result, tensions take deeper and deeper roots and become more difficult to release. Even in sleep, it is not possible to relax these tensions. With Yoga Nidra, on the other hand, it is possible to numb our entire emotional structure and release these tensions.

Mental tension is the result of excessive mental activity. Our mind is a soup of fantasies, confusions and fluctuations. Throughout our lives, experiences are registered by our consciousness and accumulated in our mental body. Sometimes we can experience that these tensions explode and we experience anger, sadness, irritation, etc., and it is directed at completely insignificant and superficial things. This is then a result of our accumulated tensions on the mental level. Yoga Nidra is the science of relaxation that enables us to dive into the depths of the subconscious mind and free ourselves from accumulated tensions.

In this way, with Yoga Nidra we can create harmony in all levels of our being.

Yoga Nidra describes the state we’re in more than the practice itself. Yoga Nidra means ‘Sleep Yoga’, but it describes a different type of sleep than what we think of as sleep. In this case, we maintain an awareness while stepping into sleep. With an instructor as a guide, you are guided into deep relaxation while anchoring your consciousness firmly in the voice of the instructor. In this way we can systematically go in and make ‘sleep’ much more efficient. 1 hour in yoga nidra is therefor the same as 4 hours of normal sleep.

What are the benefits?

Yoga Nidra has a wide range of benefits. Through Yoga Nidra we can release traumas and memories that hang over us and affect our lives. We can let go of destructive or unwanted habits and addictions. We can reduce the amount of sleep we need, and therefore get more out of our lives. As we let go of the tensions we carry, we will also experience more energy and vitality. In Yoga Nidra we are also extremely receptive and can therefore reconstruct our personality and manifest the lives we want.

How does it work?

Yoga Nidra has a very scientific and systematic progress. There are several ways to practice depending on how much time you have and what you want to achieve with the practice. We can do a 10 minute practice that works great as a transition from a stressful day at work to time at home with the family. We can also use a similar practice that will quickly make you fall asleep. The more classic practice lasts approx. 60 minutes, but can be reduced to approx. 20 if we do not have more time.

Part 1) Remove distractions
The first thing to do is turn off the TV, radio, telephone or other things that can be distracting. Draw for curtains and make sure the room is dark but not completely dark.

Part 2) Yogasanas
Pain, stiffness and physical tension are major obstacles in yoga nidra practice. Therefore, it is ideal to practice Yoga Nidra after yoga asanas (the physical postures).

Part 3) Preparation
One lies down in the correct position, and mentally prepares to calm down the mind and body.

Part 4) Sankalpa
Sankalpa is Sanskrit, and ‘san’ means ‘to become one’ and ‘kalpa’ means ‘time’, and ‘subconscious mind’. Sankalpa is intention, and is used in advance of Yoga Nidra. This is like a kind of seed that we plant in the subconscious

Part 5) Rotation of consciousness
This part consists of moving our focus throughout the body, up to several times. Each body part is connected to a completely separate point in the brain. Some body parts, such as lips, nose, hands and fingers, have a much larger area in the brain, compared to their size. Together, these parts have almost as large a part in the brain as the rest of the body combined. They are therefore important aspects when we move our attention through the body. The specific position of the body parts in our brain is the reason for the systematic approach with specific order when we move our attention throughout the body. Once we have started with this sequence, it must not be changed as it induces a flow of energy / prana in the neuron circuit of the motor homunculus. This flow carries with it an experience of relaxation as a spontaneous dissociation of consciousness from the sensory and motor occurs. With regular practice, this flow becomes more efficient and happens faster and goes deeper.

Part 6) Breath
After the rotation of consciousness in the body, continues and complete physical relaxation with attention to the breath.

Part 7) Senses
Now we move on to the plane of feelings and emotions. Feelings that are physically or emotionally intense are evoked, experienced fully and completely, and then removed. This is usually done by using contrasts such as heavy / light, cold / hot, pain / pleasure, etc. When these emotions are paired, we harmonize the halves of the brain and create balance in our basic driving forces that normally lie in the subconscious.

Part 8) Visualization
In the last step of Yoga Nidra, work is being done on visualizing various images and symbols. This creates relaxation on the mental level. Because the images and symbols used often have universally important and powerful associations, they bring hidden content from the deep subconscious into the conscious mind. In this practice, the mind is cleansed of disturbing and painful material. Furthermore, this mind leads to dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation), and potentially even Samadhi.

Part 9) Sankalpa
After completing the practice, the intention is repeated

Part 10) Closing
After repeated sankalpa, we slowly return our attention to the body and space, and begin to move gently small muscle groups first before we finally open our eyes again.

Sources: Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Nasal Cleansing – Ayurvedic Practice

When it comes to nasal cleansing there are two practices: neti and nasya. Neti is a process where you use salt water to cleanse the nasal passages using a neti pot. With nasya you lubricate the nasal cavities with oil.

You might be wondering why you should cleanse your nostrils, but if you think about it, you’re constantly breathing toxins from pollution in the air, fragrances in perfumes, air fresheners, candles and so on. Much of these toxins fills up your nasal passage and cleansing them can prevent and even heal allergies, colds and flus. You also improve your breathing, cure headaches, release tension and overcome sinus infections. Ayurveda also states that nasal cleansing is important because the nose is the direct route to the brain and the doorway to your consciousness.


When practicing neti, first make sure your neti pot is clean. Then boil one or two cups of water to disinfect and allow the water to cool to a comfortable temperature and pour it into your neti pot. Add 1/2 teason sea salt per cup warm water and stir. Stand over a sink, place the tip of the pot into your nostril and tilt your head sideways without leaning your head forward or backward. The water should enter one nostril and flow out the other. Breathe through your mouth as you work and do half of the water on one side and then the rest on the other.

When you’re done, you can lean forward and practice kapalbhati to get all the water out of your nose. (powerful exhalations through your nose)

If your nose is completely stuffed, you can stand up, reach your arms forward with closed fists and thumbs pointing up, bring your knees all the way up towards your chest as if your running while standing still. Do this for a minute or two and you’ll notice your nasal passage will open up.

The practice kills bacteria and other debris that cause allergies and illness. It is not necessary for every day, but highly recommended during cold, flu and allergy season. If you have sinus infection or allergies, you can practice up to three times a day.


Nasya is a practice to lubricate the nasal passages with oil and its best preformed after neti cleansing. The salt water from neti can dry out your nasal passages, which stimulates your body to secrete more mucus to protect the membranes. Its an effective way of preventing a stuffy nose. It is also said to improve the quality of your voice, improve your vision, promote mental clarity, release tension headaches, heal sinus congestion, and release stress. Nasya oil is typically comprised of sesame oil and medicinal herbs, but if you cant get hold of it, you can just use sesame oil.

There are two ways of practicing nasya. You can either put some oil on your pinky finger and insert it into your nostril. You wont get as deep, but it will still have some effect and is a great starting point.

The other way however is more effectice. Lie down on your back, preferably on your bed with your head backward of the edge of the bed or over a pillow so your head is leaning back. With a dropper, release 5-10 drops of room temperature nasya oil in each nostril. Inhale deeply and lie still for a few minutes so the oil can deeply penetrate your nasal passages. It will feel a bit strange in the beginning, but is worth the benefits!

Dry Brushing – Ayurvedic Practice

Dry brushing is just what it sounds like- brushing your skin with a dry brush on dry skin. By doing this you scrape the dead skin cells off the top layer of your skin. This is done before you shower. The practice promotes detoxification and stimulates your lymphatic system.

Did you know that your skin is your larges organ? One third of our body’s toxins are excreted through the skin, so it is important to take good care of it. If your skin is covered with dead follicles, it can’t breath and detoxify which will cause inflammation and toxicity in the body. With daily dry brushing you can increase blood flow, boost circulation, reduce appearance of cellulite, remove dead skin cells and help your remaining cells and your body remove waste.

The lymphatic system is like a sewer system which collects, transports and eliminates the waste from our cells. It’s job is very important and dry brushing is extremely cleansing for the system which makes it function a lot better and preventing toxic accumulation.

Dry brushing should be practiced daily before shower, both as a preventative measure to keep your lymphatic system in good health, and as a treatment for when you feel like your toxins have already accumulated. It only takes about five minutes to do, and the benefits are many!

How to dry brush

1 Begin with your arms, with gentle strokes upward towards your heart in long and slow motions.

2 Move to your chest and stomach, again moving towards the heart.

3 Move towards your back. Many people accumulate dead skin cells on their lower back, so this might be an area to focus on. Always brushing towards your heart.

4 Finish your brushing from your feet and up.

Once you’re done, take a bath or a shower and then follow up with Abhyanga practice

You can also dry brush your face, but then by using a separate softer brush, so you avoid bringing toxins from your body to your face.

Wash your brush once a week in a cup of warm water with 3 drops of tea tree oil, then lay the brush bristles down on a towel to dry.

Abhyanga – Ayurvedic Practice

Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic practice of massaging yourself with oil. Ayurveda states that you should not put anything on your body that you wouldn’t eat, so using natural and organic oils suitable for your Dosha(body-type) 


Abhyanga has many benefits, including toning your muscles, enhancing detoxification, softening your skin, calming your nervous system, releasing fatigue, aiding your sleep, improving elimination, lubricates your joints, increases circulation and hydrates you from within. 

Tha Charaka Samhita states, “The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.” 

How to practice

Its an intuitive practice, similar to applying lotion, but more deliberate. The sanskrit word for oil is sneba, which also means ‘love’. When oiling your body, do it in a loving matter and be grateful of your body and all it offers you. 

The touch of the massage depends on how you feel and your Dosha. If you feel heavy and lathargic then use firm and vigorous strokes to stimulate your body and get your muscles loosened. If you’re stressed and tight, practice slower movements. It’s about creating balance. 

1) Make sure the oil is warm before you put it on your skin. Either fill a glass bottle with oil and submerge it in a pot of hot water on the stove or if you don’t have the time you can put a little oil in your hand and rub them until it gets warm before you start massaging your body. 

2) Start by rubbing the oil into your arms and pay extra attention to dry spots such as elbows and wrists. 

3) Next rub your abdomen in counterclockwise circular motion. This is the direction of your colon and the movement aids your digestion and elimination. Go up your right side and down your left side. 

4) Bring the oil up to your chest in long slow strokes towards your heart. This will help you connect with your heart chakra and emotions. 

5) Start massaging your neck and back. The back is a hard place to reach, but try your best. 

6) Then move to your bottocks and down your legs, ending with your feet. 

When you’re done put on some socks to retain the oil and some easy clothes that you’re ok with getting some oil residue on. 

Depending on your bodytype and season you should do this at least two to five times a week. 

For a Vata body, you should do it at least five times a week, maybe seven during the cold and dry season. Sesame oil is recommended. 

for Pittas, three times a week with coconut oil, maybe less during the hot and humid months. 

For Kaphas, practice at least two times a week while paying extra attention to dry spots and by adding stimulating herbs to your oil. Sesame, almond and olive oils are good choices. 

Once a week you should also oil your scalp as it enhances hair growth and calms the mind. If you have long hair you can braid it and sleep with it overnight with towel over you pillow to protect it from the oil. 

Why Some Yogis Wear White Clothes

Maybe you’ve noticed that some yogis wear a lot of white clothes, and there is a good reason why. Yoga is about raising your consciousness, which means you become more receptive and aware of things that you didn’t notice before. More and more of what- and how you do things become a conscious act, instead of a compulsive one. There is a change where your yoga- practice shifts from being something you do on the mat, to the very way you live your life. The things we do, we do it because we want to function at the best possible way. For instance, if your concern is only about surviving, then you can eat just about anything, but if you want to function the best possible way, you will eat only what is best for you. For a yogi, this is essential, because you want to live a full-fledged life!

So why does it matter what colours the clothes are? As you may already know, white light contains the whole spectrum of colours. If you use a prism, you can split a beam of light into the colours of the rainbow.(see illustration) Every colour has its own wavelength, and depending on the surface it hits, some of the wavelengths are absorbed, while others are reflected. So when you look at a red rose, the only reason why we perceive it as red, is because it absorbs everything but the colour red. Red is reflected, and so that is why it looks red. So when something looks white, it means it reflects all light. Same goes for energies. For a yogi its important to have integrity in your own energy. You don’t want your energies to be disturbed by your surroundings. So for yogis who want to live a relatively normal life within society, they use white clothes as a way of protecting the integrity of their energy. We don’t want to absorb everyones energies, so we’re very careful about wearing black for instance, which absorb everything and reflects nothing.

With that said, please do not take my word for it. Experiment for yourself and see.