What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is a technique where you learn to relax consciously. The posture is Savashana or the corpse pose, a posture which allows you to relax completely. It is also called 'Yogic Sleep', although you need to remain conscious to appreciate its effects fully. It is not an intellectual practice; but an opportunity to have a first-hand experience of who you really are! Yoga Nidra help to break habits and conditioning that lead us so often to misperceptions of reality. By dispelling obstacles (Kleshas) such as ignorance, egoism, attachment and its opposite aversion, and finally fear of death (Patanjali, chapter 2, verse3), you reach a state of Unity, which overcome the penchants of the mind for dividing true Nature in separate parts.
How do you reach that yogic state? Simply! When the state of relaxation is complete, you withdraw your connection to the senses and the receptivity is greater. This is not about philosophy; but about engaging in a series of experiments in order to discover your true self and the truth of the world. You are neither awake nor in deep sleep: whatever enter the mind at that time become powerful, and then remain there. By practising this technique you learn to let go and receive. Some call it an hypnayogic state. This is opening the 'third eye', which takes consciousness beyond the conditioned personality.
However, the ability to perceive and to receive has to be developed and relaxation is one step towards it. I find it important to combine all these aspects of yoga in my practice. Asanas and physical practice are important to develop flexibility and well-being; but physical practice needs not to be part of a fitness programme. It is, according to a fundamental Yoga Text the Yoga Pradipika, merely a preparation for a deeper practice, a meditative practice, that might require to sit for quite a long time! Most importantly, Pranayama (breathing) helps us to control and discipline the emotions. Relaxation and meditation, as well as Yoga Nidra, get us to reach our deeper and universal Self, and thus contentment and happiness.