What is the main and most important difference between Yoga Nidra and Savasana?
First, don’t let worrying about whether you are doing any of these practices “right” stop you from enjoying them. While there are definitely differences between each of them, don’t worry if they start to overlap with each other, because they will. It’s okay. Keep practicing, engage in some self-study to learn more, and attend classes when possible to deepen your practice.
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But again, I see people applying the achievement mentality to yoga and it doesn’t work that way. No gold medals are given out for savasana. Just explore and enjoy.
Savasana (corpse pose)
Savasana translates as corpse pose, although many Western teachers and students prefer rest pose, which feels a little less morbid. What this means for me is that I surrender in savasana. I don’t worry about my breath or my thoughts or my body. I just let go. Your work is done. There is nothing for you to do here.
Savasana is typically practiced at the end of an asana (mat-based postures) session. However, I would encourage you to consider making savasana its very own practice. In this busy, modern world of ours, spending five-minutes in savasana each day can be very powerful. One common question about savasana regards falling asleep. It is common for students to doze off here. Is that okay?
Of course. If you fall asleep in savasana it simply means that your body needs sleep. But sleep and savasana aren’t the same thing. Savasana is about surrender. You are awake but at rest. Learning how to be awake and at rest is incredibly important for stress relief and wellness.
If you fall asleep in savasana once in a while, good news, you are a human being. If you always fall asleep in savasana, you are likely experiencing some sleep issues that you could investigate more deeply. Healthy sleep hygiene is very important.
Now we’re really going to test Joey’s brain! Enter yoga nidra. What is yoga nidra? It is yogic sleep. Cool huh?
In yoga nidra, a teacher leads his or her students through a very specific script that says things like, “Feel your left toe. Release your left toe.” You are often asked in yoga nidra class to set a sankalpa, or a promise to yourself, and to call upon a deep desire that you have. It is believed that you can enter a state in between consciousness and unconsciousness where those desires can be manifested.
You know that feeling you have when you are about to fall asleep and you have weird thoughts, like your brain is just freestyling and attaching random ideas together? Some might call this dozing. You are in between awake and asleep. That’s where yoga nidra takes you with the intention of keeping you there for a set amount of time. It is believed that in that middle space, your brain can do some pretty tremendous and magical things.
Scripts in yoga nidra classes are very specific and you will listen to your teacher’s voice for most of the class. You can also find yoga nidra scripts online. Yoga nidra is very similar to restorative yoga in that you will likely be in a reclined and supported position. However, in a restorative class, most of the class is held in silence with very little external stimulation. In a yoga nidra class, the teacher is speaking and guiding you through the script the entire time.