In case you are wondering what is Yoga Nidra and how this Yogic Sleep meditation is going to benefit, this is the article for you. We have answered all your possible questions and also tried to bring out all the benefits that this age old yoga asansa has in offer.
Lets start by answering a few simple questions first.
What Is Yoga Nidra ?
Yoga Nidra, commonly understood as Yogic Sleep, is an articulated form of it. It is achieved through a method of guided meditation. It releases stress and tension – both physically and mentally.
Professional yogis or yoga enthusiasts often say “Yoga Nidra” is the most powerful tool to achieve ultimate relaxation. It also comes with a whole lot of other physiological, psychological and psychosomatic benefits.
Why Should You Practice Yoga Nidra ?
Yoga Sleep is an ancient form of meditation. However, it is gradually making its place in the modern-day mainstream yoga practice . It is a state of conscious rest (like any other form of meditation) and is usually practiced lying down with the instructor guiding you through the session.
Practicing Yoga Nidra draws our attention inwards, allowing us to attain a balance between the two states of wakefulness and sleep. In this position of balance our body finds the natural state of equilibrium or homeostasis- leaving us with a sense of wholeness and liberation.Yoga Nidra if practiced correctly, the practitioner is left with profound benefits.
How is Yoga Nidra different from any other form of meditation?
The most important characteristic of Yoga Sleep is that it is always guided- although there are various forms of guided meditations too. This helps our mind with little or no intense thinking or wondering while staring out in the open blankly.
Practicing Yoga Sleep can be of various lengths- as short as five minutes to an hour-long session. No matter what the duration is, the practitioner is sure to gain benefits from it. Yoga Nidra can be performed both ways- lying down or while being seated and by everyone.
Another difference between meditation and Yoga Nidra is, in meditation one consciously places attention through one anchor (breath or mantra). In Yogic sleep it takes the attention to specific places through a series of steps.
On the other hand, in meditation people experience multiple states of consciousness including waking state of consciousness.
Also read our intersting post on Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga.
What do we experience during Yoga Nidra?
Yoga enthusiasts describe Yoga sleep to be an experience and not just a mere practice. They say that it helps to turn our attention easily and effortlessly within us, acting as a window into ourselves. It is through Yogic Sleep, that our conscious and unconscious aspects come together revealing them as we slowly fall into a state of deep blissful awareness.
Yoga sleep helps us experience the ‘deeper’ and ‘intangible’ features of yogic teachings, like feelings of interconnected wholeness and becoming aware of our true deeply restful inner nature. We end up feeling harmoniously restful. We feel we are healed, restored and awakened to what we call as our ‘self’.Therefore, Yoga Nidra is an accessible form of meditation which acts as a highway to free our minds and hearts from all the negative emotions without creating any overwhelming physical stress. It focuses on cultivating our minds and body to multiple levels of well-being.
Researches have revealed that practicing it consistently will help us with a good amount of peace in a really short period of time. It is a sublime practice to reach ultimate liberation.
8 Benefits Of Yoga Nidra Or Yogic Sleep Meditation
Apart from achieving a totally relaxed and blissful state Yoga Nidra has umpteen numbers of other benefits too. It has the power to heal and transform you to new heights. So, let us delve a little deeper about the various physical and mental benefits of Yoga Nidra.
#1 Produces Delta And Theta Wave
The primary function of Yoga sleep is to guide the person into the deepest state of sleep- a state where our brain produces delta and theta waves while the student remains conscious. What does it mean being in a Theta State? Well, being in a Theta State means that the person is brought to a state of deep relaxation while being consciously awake.
Theta waves are characterized to be creative feelings of inspiration and spirituality. Therefore, yoga Nidra takes the person to a mental state where they act below the level of the conscious mind. On the other hand, Delta Waves are the slowest waves which are experienced during deep dreamless sleep.
#2 Helps In Healing Trauma
Yogic sleep meditation primarily functions to brings us ‘face to face’ with negative feelings and emotions rooted deep down in our minds without overwhelming our body. This is how Yoga sleep helps us dealing with trauma and healing ourselves from them.
There have been numerous researches conducted and in one such study Yoga Nidra was implemented on soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress and this study led to proving the efficacy of Yoga Nidra.
#3 Helps In Reducing Stress
Science and researches have proved Yoga Nidra to reduce an immense amount of stress and anxiety in both men and women. It promotes stages of deep relaxation and helps calm down the nervous system leading to less stress and better health.
#4 Helps In Reducing Chronic Pain
This form of meditation is often used as an intervention to heal chronic pains and it has proven to do so. This is because yogic sleep gives time for the body to achieve the rest that it demands to recover and restore from the pain. This, in turn, leads to reducing inflammation and bring about an overall improvement in the functioning of the immune system.
#5 Helps In Reducing PMS Symptoms
Women suffering from menstrual irregularities due to physiological problems often take on practicing yoga sleep. They have claimed to reap profound benefits from it bringing about significant improvement in both their physiological and psychological well-being.
They claimed to battle problems like anxiety, stress, mood swings and other hormonal imbalances they often experience during, before or after their menstrual cycle.
#6 Helps In Reducing Insomnia (Sleep Improvement)
While Yoga Nidra is no substitute for proper regular sleep, but those experiencing it say that 45 minutes of yogic sleep feels like 3 long hours of deep regular sleep. However, there’s no scientific backing to this fact.
Nonetheless, Yoga Nidra makes you feel well-rested. It improves dealing with anxiety, depression and other psychological problems inducing better sleep at night.
This is because Yoga Nidra activates our relaxation response. It improves the functioning of our nervous and endocrine system, keeping our overall health in place. It trains our body and mind to relax and move easily into the deeper states of sleep.
#7 Helps In Reducing Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes
Yoga Nidra benefits us in reducing the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. It controls our blood glucose level. Scientifically proven, Yoga Nidra helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol getting rid of glucose fluctuations. Thus reducing the symptoms associated with diabetes.
#8 Helps To Learn About Yourself Intimately
The profound relaxation Yoga Nidra brings about in us is both physical and mental. This is because it acts like a window inwards- providing a space to explore and work on releasing long-held emotions.
It brings about experiencing an emotion where we confront what we want to overcome without diving into it completely. So, as we move deeper into the practice we gradually continue to experience the emotion and the feelings associated with it. And that is when Yoga Nidra brings about life-altering changes in our thought patterns, relationships and achievements.
So to put it all together broadly, the Benefits of Yoga Nidra are:
- Eases insomnia and induces better sleep
- Decreases anxiety and alleviates stress
- Reduces post-traumatic stress disorder
- Reduces chronic pain and other chemical dependencies
- Heightens our awareness and focus
- Transforms our thoughts, negative habits and behavior
- Bring about feelings of peace, calm and clarity.
How To Practice Yoga Nidra ? Different Stages Of Preparation
There are various methods of teaching and practicing Yoga Nidra. It involves several stages which relaxes our body, mind and emotions. Here are the basic stages of Yoga sleep which are included, however not limited to.
Taking the posture of Shavasana with eyes closed. This is the initial stage to relax the body and the mind while being comfortable and still being aware of our posture, position, breath and the external sounds.
Once the body and the mind is relaxed the practitioner repeats mentally his or her intention with full determination, confidence, positivity and conviction.
Rotation of Consciousness
This is the third stage where the consciousness is rotated around the different parts of the body in a systematic and organized way.
Here, the practitioner becomes aware of their natural breath pattern without making an attempt to change the flow. This happens when the practitioner slowly becomes aware of the breath pattern mentally.
Opposite Feelings And Sensations
In this stage the instructor recalls the physical and the emotional sensations which then get intensified in the practitioner. This is usually done with pairs of opposite feelings and sensations.
In this stage, the awareness is shifted to the dark space in front of the closed eyes. This stage is referred to as Chidakasha in yogic terminology. In this stage the practitioner is instructed to visualize something of their own.
The practitioner once again attempts to setting up of intention in stage 2- where he or she again repeats the ‘Sankalpa’ mentally three times with full dedication, faith and optimism.
Ending The Practice Or ‘Waking Up’
This is the last stage before ending the session. Here, the awareness is externalized. The practitioner once again becomes aware of the external sounds, objects and people. Then, they are slowly asked to move their different parts of the body and stretch the body in whole.
Each of these stages takes the practitioner deeper into a balanced state of sleep and wakefulness. It is a state where they are completely conscious but their body and mind are at complete rest.
Therefore in the first stage, it is important to set an intention and then let go of yourself for deep relaxation. Once the intention is correct, this practice opens up the unconscious to life-altering changes in their thought pattern while healing and fulfilling their conscious intentions.
So no matter what the reason might be behind you practicing Yogic Sleep, it is crucial that it relaxes you and releases you of all the stress. This helps in bringing about real positive changes in our lives helping us reach our goals. However, it is only through practice that one will be able to experience the benefits and the real wisdom.
To conclude, one can easily say that Yoga Nidra has both preventive and curative values. It is because of these values that in spite of being an age-old practice, it is gaining immense popularity in the modern world. With the hectic modern lifestyle and rise in health deterioration, it serves as a real boon to many. After all, it only brings about a positive and beneficial impact on us.