Origin of Yoga Nidra - Aura Wellness Center

Origin of Yoga Nidra

about the origin of yoga nidraBy Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500

Where and when did the origin of Yoga Nidra begin? Within the Mahabharata – Book 1: Adi Parva/Section XXI, it is stated: “It becomes the bed of the lotus-naveled Vishnu when at the termination of every Yuga that deity of immeasurable power enjoys yoga-nidra, the deep sleep under the spell of spiritual meditation.” The point is Yoga Nidra has been around for many centuries. It is safe to say the text was compiled around 300 BCE, give or take a few centuries, and this knowledge existed in verbal format before it was put down in writing.


In the Yoga Taravali 25.26, it is stated:

“Absorbed in the promising state of continuous practice

The state of Yoga Nidra expands in the Yogi.

Within the Bhagavata, there is an explanation of creation, and Yoga Nidra is also mentioned.

“He is described as lying on Adisesha’s couch. His eyes are closed as if in deep meditation, having withdrawn from creation, preservation, and dissolution. He is in Yoga Nidra, appearing to be asleep; yet, He is ever awake with His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence intact.”


Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Modern Yoga Nidra is credited to Swami Satyananda Saraswati, the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga. That said, the exact origin of Yoga Nidra is not entirely clear, but the concept seems to be on a steady course.

In the deep sleep state known as “prajna” or wisdom, the Yoga practitioner may experience Yoga nidra. This state of understanding is where one can perceive the universal flux of being. The Yogi can eliminate afflictions in a state of prajna or Yoga nidra.

The meditative sound of “aum” comprises three letters—a, u, and m. The “a” is the state of wakefulness and external awareness through the mind and sense organs. The “u” represents the dream state, composed of internal experiences.

The “m” represents the Yoga nidra state of deep, lucid sleep, the third of four levels of consciousness. (The fourth level—absolute emptiness—is that of no sound with neither inward nor outward consciousness. This fourth level lies beneath the other three states.)


Vishnu Reclining on Naga

In the depictions of Vishnu reclining on the naga (snake), Sesha, or Ananta, he is in a state of Yoga nidra, creating the phenomenal world and participating in it, similar to lucid dreaming.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati developed this system of relaxation in the mid-20th century after studying and practicing the tantric scriptures. His explanation of Yoga nidra was as a state of mind between wakefulness and dream, wherein deep constructs of the mind become opened. He defined a practice of eight stages to bring the practitioner to a pure state of Yoga nidra.

The Eight Stages of Yoga Nidra

1. Internalization

2. Sankalpa – a resolution made during the practice by the individual to clearly define and focus on a particular goal, effectively awakening willpower by uniting conscious awareness with unconscious, dormant energies

3. Rotation of One’s Consciousness

4. Breath Awareness

5. Manifestation of Opposites

6. Creative Visualization

7. Sankalpa—understanding one’s resolution at a yet deeper level

8. Externalization


Internal Lucidity

Yoga Nidra is similar to lucid dreaming, where internal clarity is maintained. Experiences are directed and manifested in the sleeping-waking dream state that is not only produced within the altered state of consciousness but is brought back to conscious awareness to inform the individual of progress with the Sankalpa, lessons, and other information to improve, heal, and otherwise evolve the initiate.

Creative visualization is, therefore, a central technique of Yoga Nidra. As a “sadhana,” or spiritual path, it prepares the Yogi for spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical awareness of self and the phenomenal world surrounding the self. It additionally informs the yogi how to work through karma—the consequences of one’s deed, while clearing consciousness and purifying the unconscious mind.

Exact Origin?

Before the Mahabharata, the exact origin of Yoga Nidra is obscure, but the method has reached global popularity because it has become “user-friendly.” Looking back through history, the public did not have access to Yogic techniques.

Yoga Nidra is classified as a higher technique, which is also said to be a gateway to samadhi. Today, there is less talk about samadhi through Yoga Nidra, when relaxation, stress management, and relief from anxiety have become the main reasons why people flood Yoga Nidra sessions.


Journey Through Time – Origin of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is a practice that takes us on a journey through time and deep within our consciousness. This ancient technique has been passed down through generations, offering profound relaxation and inner transformation. Yet, where did it all begin?

Join us as we delve into the history and origins of Yoga Nidra, uncovering its roots in ancient texts and tracing its evolution through the centuries. From its humble beginnings to its modern-day relevance, prepare to embark on a fascinating exploration of this transformative practice that continues to captivate minds and souls around the globe.

Other Texts That Contained Yoga Nidra Information

Ancient wisdom has always been a treasure trove of knowledge, and Yoga Nidra is no exception. While the exact origins of this practice may be shrouded in mystery, we can trace its existence back to several ancient texts that have preserved its teachings.

One such text is the Upanishads, a philosophical treatise from ancient India. In these sacred scriptures, we find references to yogic practices resembling Yoga Nidra elements. The Upanishads explore the depths of consciousness and offer insights into the nature of reality, providing glimpses into the profound meditative states akin to what we experience during Yoga Nidra.

Another influential text is the Bhagavad Gita, an epic poem that guides spiritual seekers. Within its verses lies wisdom on various yoga disciplines, including meditation and self-realization. Though Yoga Nidra may not be explicitly mentioned by name in this scripture, it lays down principles that align with this practice’s purpose – experiencing deep relaxation while remaining fully aware.

The Tantras also contribute to our understanding of Yoga Nidra’s roots. These esoteric texts delve into energy channels and subtle body practices aimed at awakening higher states of consciousness. They emphasize techniques like visualizations and guided imagery – critical components in modern interpretations of Yoga Nidra.

By exploring these ancient texts’ depths, we gain insight into how Yogis, throughout history, sought methods for attaining ultimate peace and self-realization through practices resembling what we now know as Yoga Nidra. The wisdom in these timeless writings continues to inspire practitioners today as they embark on their transformative journeys toward inner stillness and enlightenment.


The Different Types of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra, also known as “yogic sleep,” is a practice that allows you to enter a deep state of relaxation while remaining fully conscious. Different types of Yoga Nidra focus on other aspects and intentions.

The first type is called Antar Mouna, meaning “inner silence.” This practice aims to cultivate awareness by observing thoughts and emotions without judgment or attachment. Doing so allows us to gain insight into our inner workings and develop clarity.

Another type of Yoga Nidra is called Nyasa. This practice involves mentally placing or touching different parts of the body with your attention while in a relaxed state. The purpose is to awaken and harmonize energy centers in the body, known as chakras.

There’s also Sankalpa Yoga Nidra, where you set an intention or resolve at the beginning of your practice. This intention works subconsciously throughout the session, helping to reprogram negative patterns and manifest positive life changes.

There’s IRest (Integrative Restoration) Yoga Nidra. Developed by Richard Miller, it combines traditional Yogic practices with modern therapeutic techniques like guided imagery and meditation for healing trauma and promoting overall well-being.

These various types offer unique approaches to experiencing deep relaxation and self-awareness through Yoga Nidra practice. Each one has its benefits depending on individual needs and goals. So explore them all if you’re curious!

Similar Practices

The ancient texts of yoga contain references to practices similar to Yoga Nidra. One such text is the Mandukya Upanishad, which dates back over 2,000 years. It describes a state called “turiya,” where one experiences pure consciousness during deep meditation.

Within the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali outlines various techniques for achieving higher states of consciousness, including relaxation and withdrawal of the senses.

Over time, different types of Yoga Nidra emerged in various yogic traditions. For example, in Tantra yoga, practitioners use visualization techniques to enter a deeply relaxed state.

In modern times, Swami Satyananda Saraswati popularized Yoga Nidra through his teachings and writings. In the mid-20th century, he developed a systematic approach to practicing this technique and founded the Bihar School of Yoga in India.

Today, Yoga Nidra continues to grow in popularity as people recognize its numerous benefits for physical and mental well-being. It has become integral to many yoga classes and wellness programs worldwide.

The history of Yoga Nidra showcases its significance throughout centuries and across cultures. This ancient practice has stood the test of time and continues to provide profound relaxation and inner exploration for those who engage with it regularly.


Yoga Nidra in the 20th Century

Yoga Nidra, the ancient practice of yogic sleep, grew in popularity in the 20th century. As people began to recognize the benefits of deep relaxation and mindfulness, Yoga Nidra started gaining attention as a powerful tool for stress reduction and self-healing.

In the early 1900s, Swami Satyananda Saraswati reintroduced Yoga Nidra through his teachings and writings. He developed a systematic approach to practicing Yoga Nidra, including specific techniques for physical relaxation, breath awareness, and visualization.

During this time, scientific research on meditation and relaxation also gained momentum. Various studies were conducted to explore the physiological and psychological effects of practices like Yoga Nidra. These findings further contributed to its growing popularity among individuals seeking holistic well-being.


As yoga spread across Western countries during the mid-20th century, so did interest in different branches of yoga, including Yoga Nidra. Yogis from India traveled abroad to share their knowledge and experiences with eager students captivated by this unique practice.

With advancements in technology and communication in recent decades, access to information about Yoga Nidra has become more widespread than ever before. Online platforms offer guided audio recordings and video tutorials, making learning and practicing this transformative technique easier for individuals worldwide.

Change is Constant

Today, Yoga Nidra continues to evolve as practitioners explore new variations tailored to individual needs. The increasing recognition of its profound benefits has led many wellness centers around the globe to offer dedicated workshops or retreats focused solely on Yoga Nidra. This allows participants not only an opportunity for deep rejuvenation but also serves as a gateway toward inner exploration and personal growth.


Yoga Nidra Today

Yoga Nidra, an ancient practice that has stood the test of time, continues to thrive and evolve in today’s modern world. As more people seek balance and calm amidst the chaos of daily life, Yoga Nidra offers a profound way to find inner peace and rejuvenation.

In today’s society, where stress levels are high, and mindfulness is increasingly valued, Yoga Nidra has become a powerful tool for relaxation and self-discovery. Its gentle yet potent techniques allow practitioners to enter a deep state of relaxation while remaining fully aware – providing both physical and mental benefits.

One of the reasons why Yoga Nidra remains relevant today is its adaptability. Anyone can practice it – regardless of age or fitness level. With just a mat or comfortable surface to lie on, individuals can experience the transformative effects of this practice in the comfort of their homes.

Adding Technology

Moreover, with technological advancements, Yoga Nidra has become even more accessible. Guided audio recordings and online classes enable people from around the globe to embark on this meditative journey at their convenience.

The beauty of Yoga Nidra lies in its ability to help us tap into our subconscious mind – unlocking hidden potential and fostering personal growth. By accessing more profound layers of consciousness through visualization techniques, we can cultivate positive changes within ourselves that extend far beyond our yoga mats.

As we navigate these uncertain times marked by constant distractions and information overload, we must prioritize self-care practices like Yoga Nidra. This ancient technique serves as an anchor amidst the chaos – allowing us to find solace within ourselves no matter what challenges we face externally.

In conclusion (without using those words), discovering the power of Yoga Nidra today reaffirms its timeless significance in promoting overall well-being – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. So why not permit yourself to explore this ancient practice? Allow yourself to indulge in moments of deep relaxation and self-discovery as you unravel the layers of your consciousness.


Over time, Yoga Nidra evolved into different forms with variations in techniques and approaches. Today, various types of Yoga Nidra are being taught and practiced worldwide.

In the 20th century, renowned yoga masters like Swami Satyananda Saraswati significantly popularized Yoga Nidra through their teachings and writings. They adapted this powerful practice to a broader audience for modern lifestyles.

Today, Yoga Nidra continues to gain popularity as people recognize its immense benefits for relaxation, stress reduction, self-exploration, and spiritual growth. It offers a unique path toward tranquility and inner transformation amidst the chaos of our modern lives.

As you embark on your journey with Yoga Nidra, remember that its true essence lies in understanding its history and experiencing it firsthand. Explore different styles and teachers; find what resonates with you.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division


To see our selection of Online Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.


Are you interested in Meditation Teacher Training?

Click here to see our online Yoga Nidra teacher training course.

Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?

Subscribe to Our Newsletter for Special Discounts and New Products

Related Resources


52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen your Practice

by Rina Jakubowicz.


A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance

by: Gail Boorstein Grossman.


by B.K.S. Iyengar

TEACHING YOGA: Essential Foundations and Techniques

By Mark Stephens

Benefits of Yoga Nidra

How to Practice Yoga Nidra

Please feel free to share our posts with your friends, colleagues, and favorite social media networks. See our testimonials to learn what our graduates say about teaching yoga classes and our selection of online yoga instructor certification courses.

4 thoughts on “Origin of Yoga Nidra”

  1. Yoga nidra was as a state of mind between wakefulness and dream, wherein deep constructs of the mind become opened. Its really informative to know in details about Nidra Yoga.

  2. Dear respected Teacher,

    No doubt the article is excellent and it is beautiful when you add videos to give us the big picture. Yoga nidra developed by swami satyanand saraswati helps us in practicing.
    Thank you for the beautiful article.
    Tarakeshwar Rao

Leave a Comment

Your Cart