Do you have to do asana first? Is it like hypnosis? Dharma Mittra answers YJ readers’ common queries about this deep relaxation practice.
Seeking more energy, focus, and creativity? A form of guided relaxation called yoga nidra might be just what you need. Here, Dharma Mittra addresses our reader questions about the practice, but for even more, you can take a six-week online course with him. Through Yoga Journal’s year-long Master Class program, you’ll access Yoga Nidra 101 along with workshops and live webinars from 8 world-renowned instructors. Sign up today!
Can you practice yoga nidra at night?
“You can do yoga nidra any time, even when you are trying to go to sleep in the evening. When you do it at night, you can use the technique to be part of the conscious mind as you become inactive—then you may fall unconscious,” says Mittra. “Remember, we are a portion of this great intelligence. God never sleeps, so the real self never sleeps; only the mind and the body become inactive.”
Do you have to practice asana before yoga nidra?
Nope, you don’t have to (especially if you are doing it minutes before bed). If you are feeling restless, though, you might want to. “It can be done separately, but doing asana first may be better because the body and the mind are fitter and calmer after physical exercise,” Mittra says. So, yoga nidra is flexible. If you’re doing it on your own at home, it’s up to you to cultivate svadhyaya, or self-study, and decide what you need.
Is yoga nidra like hypnosis?
After all, you close your eyes, focus your attention, and follow the guided instructions of your teacher—perhaps altering your consciousness and heightening your concentration. But is it reminiscent of the controversial therapeutic practice? “Yes, but I believe the benefits are the opposite of getting hypnotized, which [in some cases] can make you weaker. In yoga nidra, you aren’t under the control of someone else. You are under control, you are your own self, and so you get stronger,” Mittra says.
Do you teach the same yoga nidra practice every time?
“There are many ways to teach according to the time, the condition of the students, and the length of the class,” Mittra says. “If the student is not looking for a spiritual practice, then I teach the more intellectual aspects of yoga nidra. If I have an hour, then I try to teach a complete yoga nidra that includes the mental exercise but also goes a little deeper into the soul with a subtler practice. Older souls experience the best part, when the soul, or self, becomes separate from the body and mind.”