Would you like to guide people to relax? If yes, you should consider learning how to teach yoga Nidra.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga nidra or yogic sleep is a form of meditation. In this form of meditation, a yoga teacher or a meditation teacher guides you toward effortless relaxation. While it is known as yogic sleep, it’s not essentially sleeping.
Yoga nidra is the act of drawing your awareness inward, just like other meditation practices. You stay still and close your eyes while lying down and sometimes with blankets and fuzzy socks. But, you are still conscious and aware of what’s happening in your body. So, while you are relaxed and calm, you are still alert. This experience is what they call conscious relaxation.
Yoga nidra has its roots in India. It can be traced back to Sankhya philosophy. The first written history of yoga nidra is dated 700 BC. But many researchers believe ancient Indians have been practicing it since 1000 BC, and the teachings were spread only through verbal communication.
In the 1960s, Swami Satyananda Saraswati adapted yoga nidra and developed modern ways to teach and guide more people toward the practice. Many yogis believe Saraswati created yoga nidra, while others don’t.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
Yoga nidra comes with a wide range of benefits. These are the following:
The main benefit of yoga nidra is improving your sleep quality.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems.
Yoga nidra helps you to sleep better and may help in managing chronic insomnia. The exact mechanism as to how it works is not yet precise, according to the linked study.
Reduced Anxiety and Stress Levels
One study shows yoga nidra can help in reducing anxiety and stress levels. But it is more effective in reducing psychological and cognitive symptoms of anxiety.
Everyone Can Do It
The most important benefit of practicing yoga nidra is that everyone can do it. You don’t need to be fairly flexible or even have the solid core to sit straight for an extended time. All you need to do is lie down and stay still.
Boosts Dopamine Levels
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for the way we feel pleasure. Studies show a single yoga nidra session increases the levels of dopamine by 65%.
Should a Yoga Nidra Teacher Be Trained?
To teach yoga nidra, you don’t need to take teacher training. Just like teaching other styles of yoga, you are not bound by the law to be certified or registered. So, if you don’t have the money or time to spend on a yoga nidra training program, you can learn how to teach by practicing yoga nidra with a meditation teacher, reading books, and reading scripts.
However, it’s still best to take yoga nidra teacher training to guide people more effectively in this practice.
Are there Qualifications Needed to Teach Yoga Nidra?
As mentioned above, there are no laws that require you to take teacher training for yoga Nidra or any style of yoga. Therefore, you can lead a yoga Nidra session even if you have never been to a yoga Nidra class. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
As a yoga Nidra teacher, the students look up to you as their mentor – someone more experienced than them. If you don’t have any experience in teaching, the chances are high that you don’t know more than they do, and you would likely do them more harm than good.
To become an effective teacher, whether teaching yoga Nidra, other styles of yoga, or any subject, you have to have at least experience the subject.
You can take a 20-hour or 50-hour yoga Nidra teacher training course to deepen your practice and experience the benefits of yoga Nidra. Some schools that offer this course require you to have at least a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), while others such as iRest don’t. For those with a 200-hour YTT, the yoga Nidra teacher training will be part of your Continuing Education (CE).
What Happens in a Yoga Nidra Class
To teach yoga nidra, you will have to follow the eight stages based on Satyananda. These are the following:
Internalization is the first stage in a yoga nidra class. In this stage, you will start in Savasana and bring your physical body awareness inward.
Setting Your Sankalpa
Sankalpa is the stage when you set an intention for your practice. It could be a mantra, an affirmation, or a prayer, such as “I will be strong” or “I will quit smoking.” This intention is for you alone, and you will focus on it until you achieve it.
Rotation of Consciousness
In this stage, the yoga nidra meditation teacher will guide you in consciously, bringing your awareness to some parts of the body. The teacher may also guide you to visualizing the parts of your body.
Awareness of the Breath
After being conscious of your body, you will start bringing awareness to your subtle body by observing your breath. In this stage, you will notice the breath and all its qualities. The yoga teacher may also guide you in pranayama or breathing exercise.
Noticing Feelings and Sensations
In this stage, you will move from noticing your breath to noticing your feelings and the sensations you have within your body. Notice that the keyword here is noticing. You will observe your feelings and sensations without giving meaning to each of them. You will practice non-attachment to your feelings and sensations.
At this point, the yoga instructor or meditation teacher will guide you through the visualization of any object or circumstance. But you should roll more with your internal imagery and not correct yourself when your awareness of particular imagery moves to another.
Setting Your Sankalpa
In the seventh stage of yoga nidra, you will repeat the Sankalpa you set at the beginning of the class.
Ending the Practice
At the last stage of the yoga nidra practice, the yoga teacher will guide you to bring your awareness back to your physical body and your surroundings.
Here’s a video that shows the practice of yoga nidra:
Source: Yoga International
Materials Needed for the Practice
You don’t need any materials or props to practice yoga nidra. If you practice at home or teach students in their own homes, they can just lie in bed or on the mat. Yoga studios provide props such as bolsters to support the knees, eye pillows, and blankets. But these are all optional.
Tips for Teaching Yoga Nidra
Whether you want to teach yoga nidra with training or none, following these tips can help you become an effective yoga nidra teacher.
Guide the Students to Relax, Not to Focus
Yoga nidra is the practice of conscious or effortless relaxation. That means you don’t put too much effort into relaxation and guide the students to focus on a specific object or feeling. Instead, you teach them to effortlessly relax by letting them take their attention to something without giving meaning and letting their attention move on to another object without judging.
Let Them Sleep
Yoga nidra is known as yogic sleep. That’s why most people think that you sleep during a yoga nidra session. But you don’t. However, some students in your class may fall asleep. That’s fine. Let them know that they don’t have to feel guilty about it. Instead, guide them to come back to the practice right away once they wake up.
Allow Them to Change Positions
It’s common to find students who fall asleep in a yoga nidra class. Most beginners also think that yoga nidra is for sleeping. Let them be when they fall asleep. But also let them know that they can change their positions instead of doing Savasana, so they don’t fall asleep.
You can teach yoga nidra without going to school or taking a course. But getting a yoga nidra teacher training program will give you the right tools to become an efficient and credible yoga nidra teacher.