Last Sleeps: Yoga Nidra for End of Life

Yoga nidra is said to be as old as yoga itself; it developed as a meditation practice sometime between 500-600 CE. The first mention of yoga nidra’s purpose is written in the Upaniṣads, a series of texts that describe the nature of self realization and the universe.1 The particular practice from which it comes is nyāsa: “to place; to take the mind to that point.”2 In aṣṭāṅga yoga, the eight limbs of yoga, yoga nidra is a practice of pratyāhāra, drawing the senses away from external stimulus and inward toward the inner workings of the body-mind.3 Preparation for physical death, to my knowledge, was not one of its original applications. I noticed a connection during the year in which both of my parents died, and realized that all the benefits of practicing yoga nidra to improve quality of life can be directly applicable for those who are processing a death, or who are themselves dying. 

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