Better sleep: Five steps to yoga nidra

Getting the right amount of good-quality sleep is one of the best things we can do to help our bodies perform at their optimum. Yoga nidra can be an excellent technique for helping us to relax, ready for sleep.

Here, yoga instructor Kelly Brooks explains the five steps to yoga nidra to help you have a good night’s sleep.

Five steps to yoga nidra

Set the scene

Find a quiet space and somewhere where you won’t be interrupted (for at least 15 minutes). Try not to pick soon after eating.

Clear your room to optimise the feeling of relaxation. Use essential oils or scented candles to help create a relaxing environment, and make sure you are warm enough (wrap up with warm socks and blankets). You can also use an eye mask.

Lie or sit in a comfortable position. You can use bolsters to support your knees and cushions to raise your head. Make sure it’s a position you can lie in for the duration of the practice.

Sankalpa

Once you are in your comfortable position, start to let your body relax. Just bringing awareness to your body and breath is enough. Bring your awareness to noises you can hear in the distance, then closer sounds, and tune into your body. Set an intention for the yoga nidra practice – a clear, positive affirmation, maybe a change in your life that you would like to see. You can repeat your sankalpa and bring your attention back to it as much as you need throughout the practice if you feel your thoughts wandering elsewhere.

Body scan

Starting with your right side, scan your body, bringing your awareness to diferent areas, from the crown of your head down to your feet. When you focus on a specific area, allow it to relax without moving. Just visualising it relaxing is enough. Your chosen areas of focus might be limbs, organs or parts of the face.

Notice if your mind wanders.

If it does, try to bring it back by using your breath to focus. You can also practice thinking about opposites: the feeling of hot/cold, heavy/light. The point of yoga nidra is to connect to our unconsciousness. You’re not trying to fix anything, you just want to become more aware of your deeper self. If you struggle to stay in yoga nidra, try playing some relaxing music.

Finish

If you’re worried about falling asleep, set an alarm, and if you do fall asleep, try not to jump when your alarm goes off! Simply come back to your intention. Keep that intention with you as your mantra for the week. Bring your awareness back to your body. In order to keep the nervous system relaxed, roll to the right side when getting up – your heart is on the left side of your body, and when you roll to your right side, it stops the heart being compressed and helps to regulate blood pressure. Have gratitude for giving yourself the time to practice. Keep up the good work, and schedule in further sessions!

Kelly Brooks can be found at kellybrooksyoga on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram