What Is Yoga Nidra?
Here’s how to experience the many benefits of Yoga Nidra – an easy and beginner-friendly yogic meditation practice that you can start right now…
Yoga Nidra, also known as yogic relaxation therapy or yogic sleep, has become increasingly popular in recent years. Unlike regular meditation, Yoga Nidra is often specifically used to manage various health disorders.
Yoga Nidra is both a form of guided meditation and a type of relaxed consciousness, and its goal is to help you focus your mind and control your body’s relaxation response in a deliberate way.
It involves focusing on the breath and then letting the mind wander freely. The aim is to achieve a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, and it can be practiced either lying down or sitting in a comfortable position. The best time to practice Yoga Nidra is in the morning, after meditation or asana, or before you go to sleep.
According to Yoga International,
Yoga Nidra is an immensely powerful meditation technique, and one of the easiest yoga practices to develop and maintain. While the practitioner rests comfortably in savasana (corpse pose), this systematic meditation takes you through the pancha maya kosha (five layers of self), leaving you with a sense of wholeness…
The Benefits of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra has a number of benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep quality, and reducing blood pressure. It can also help to improve concentration and focus.
One recent study found that Yoga Nidra can not only reduce stress and depression, but when combined with other yoga practices such as Kundalini yoga, Tantra yoga, and meditation, it may also help to regulate hormones and manage sexual dysfunction.
It may also relieve social anxiety, relax muscles, and relieve chronic fatigue, pain, and insomnia, and is sometimes used to treat fibromyalgia.
Even better, Yoga Nidra is incredibly easy! As this article explains:
As you lie down, supported in savasana, all you have to do is follow the voice that is guiding you. It’s likely that you will remember certain parts of the meditation and not others. Every time you come to the practice you encounter a new experience—none of which is wrong. Falling asleep is okay too, as you will still receive benefits while the unconscious mind is absorbing the practice.
Yoga nidra is always guided, so there is no intense thinking or wondering why you are staring at a blank wall. A yoga nidra practice can be as short as five minutes and as long as an hour. You choose the length.
How to Practice Yoga Nidra
Find a comfortable position and focus on your breath. Once you have done this, allow your mind to wander freely. You may find it helpful to focus on a particular thought or image. Remember to relax and let go of any expectations.
Many teachers recommend you practice Yoga Nidra in Savasana (Corpse Pose). According to YogaPose.com:
Putting your body in Savasana helps integrate your muscle memory and nervous system. It enables your blood pressure and heart rate to return to their baselines. When your body achieves the baseline thresholds, it slowly transitions to a relaxed state, allowing you to reflect on your feelings.
Starting Yoga Nidra in Savasana recalibrates your body and mind to reboot your day, primarily if you practice it in the mid-afternoon. Experiencing Yoga Nidra in the Savasana posture helps you remain conscious and alert.
A Yoga Nidra instructor will typically instruct students to move and rotate their consciousness or awareness through different body parts, relaxing each part while staying still. There are 8 stages of a Yoga Nidra practice:
The eight stages of Yoga Nidra are internalization, Sankalpa, consciousness rotation, breathing awareness, the manifestation of opposites, creative visualization, repeated Sankalpa, and externalization. During the internalization stage, your awareness transitions inwards from the physical body.
When you enter Sankalpa, you set a specific intention to achieve a higher level of consciousness. Your body guides you to rotate your consciousness and visualize your body part by repeating its name. You focus on your breathing and explore opposite emotions to create simple visualizations based on various topics in your mind.
Repeated Sankalpa is the next stage in which you repeat the original intention and make it penetrate deep inside your body and mind. Bringing sensations back to your body is the final stage of Yoga Nidra, known as externalization.
You can practice Yoga Nidra whenever you like, but you may find it easiest to integrate into your bedtime routine. As YogaInternational.com points out, you can simply…
Put the headphones on, practice right in your bed, and then drift off to sleep. Although this is not the most conventional way to practice yoga nidra, you have no excuse not to do it if you’re going to be lying down anyway.
Check out these resources to learn more about Yoga Nidra…