Yoga Nidra Benefits for Your Mind and Body (And Faster Evolution of the Self)
What Is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep”, is a systematic form of guided relaxation (by a yoga teacher or even oneself) that produces a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. It is an ancient practice that originates from India and has been mentioned in both the Upanishads and the Mahabharata. Also, a goddess named Yoganidrā appears in the Devīmāhātmya. During this practice, carefully designed session steps help the practitioner enter a deep relaxation and a higher state of consciousness. It is intended to bring about physical and mental rejuvenation, as well as the transformation of the person at core levels.
What Are the Benefits of Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra has become increasingly popular nowadays due to its multiple benefits for multiple physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits.
It is often said that one hour of Yoga Nidra is as effective as three hours of regular sleep. People often emerge from Yoga Nidra practice feeling relaxed, clear-headed, and refreshed even if they have had difficulty sleeping at night.
It can help reduce stress, tension, and insomnia, as well as improve cognitive performance and memory. Additionally, it can help with self-esteem and confidence, creativity, productivity, and improved physical health. It has also been found to diminish symptoms of anxiety and depression, and treat post-traumatic stress disorder as well as chronic pain.
Research has also shown that it can reduce blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. Furthermore, regular practice can help the body to go into even deeper states of relaxation, and quicker healing, regeneration, and rejuvenation. One of the great advantages of Yoga Nidra is that it is accessible for everyone, safe, and easy to practice.
How Do You Practice Yoga Nidra?
Before the practice, it is important to reflect on what you would like your Sankalpa (a personal intention for the practice) to be. This intention repeated regularly in all your sessions brings tremendous results in improving your health and life quality.
It is about entering a conscious state of mind between sleeping and being awake and needs to be practiced in a peaceful, quiet, and undisturbed place environment where you can truly let go. Therefore you need to prepare a place where you can truly let go.
To practice, you need to lie down on your back on a hard surface (for example a yoga mat on the floor), usually in Shavasana (the Corpse Pose) with your arms and legs symmetrically stretched out.
During the practice, you need to become aware of your breath, welcome your sensations (bodily feelings), and witness your thoughts. It’s about remaining awake and aware, becoming peaceful, and accepting whatever is arising without judgment.
The session involves scanning your body with awareness, letting go of tension, and experiencing joy. The practice is normally guided by a teacher, but can also be done by yourself if you understand the technique well. Following recorded sessions can be very helpful for you. they usually take from 30 to 60 minutes.
Practice of Yoga Nidra What Is It For?
This meditative technique promotes the deepest relaxed state of your body and mind. It is a form of Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) that allows you to transform your consciousness through a deep state of relaxation. Such a profound meeting of your inner self isn’t found in your normal yoga practice.
The stages of body scan and breath awareness alone can be used as a way to release stress and tension to improve health and life quality. It is a powerful technique for controlling your psychological responses and can be used as a powerful tool for physical and mental healing, as well as to manifest your desired goals.
Is Yoga Nidra Safe?
This form of meditation is safe for most people, however, it may not be the right kind of practice for clinical mental disorders like Bipolar or Schizophrenia, because deep relaxation with eyes closed may trigger a different state of consciousness. It is important to note that, while Yoga Nidra can be beneficial, it should be done correctly and with caution.
Yoga Nidra Contraindications
While Yoga Nidra is generally safe for most people, it’s contraindicated for those suffering or diagnosed with severe depression, severe trauma, and severe mental health conditions. It’s generally not recommended for imbalanced psychological conditions. Since it is a state of conscious deep relaxation, where one is awake yet in a dream-like state. it may have unwanted side effects in cases of people who have psychosis or a sense of distorted reality.
How is Yoga Nidra Attained (What Are the Conditions Required for It)?
Yoga Nidra is attained by fulfilling the three conditions as follows: remaining aware, listening to the instructions, and allowing the mind to follow them. No physical movement is required; instead, you are encouraged to rotate your consciousness through different parts of your body to release tension. This practice does not involve any kind of concentration, but rather an effort to not fall asleep throughout the entire process. Once these conditions are met, you enter a state of deep relaxation and experience the benefits of the practice.
What Are the 5 Stages of Yoga Nidra?
The first stage is the Initial Relaxation or Settling. The second stage is mentally Setting an Intention or Sankalpa. The third stage is a Body Scan with Awareness. The fourth stage is Breathing Awareness. The fifth stage is Visualizing and Experiencing.
Then the process is reversed by Coming out of Deep Relaxation and Externalization.
What Are the 5 Layers of Self in Yoga Nidra?
Through this meditation, technique practitioners unify the five koshas, or layers: the physical, energetic, mental/emotional, intellectual, and blissful body.
- The physical layer is the tangible layer that we can see and feel.
- The energy layer is the layer of prana, or life force, that flows through the body.
- The mental/emotional layer is the layer of passing thoughts and emotions.
- The intelligence layer is the layer of higher intellect, intuition, and inner guidance.
- Finally, the bliss layer is the layer of connection to the Divine.
Through the practice of Yoga Nidra, you can bring balance and harmony to all your body layers and connect more to your bliss body, the last most subtle, and refined layer.
What Approaches Does Yoga Nidra Employ?
Yoga Nidra is a technique of Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and includes the most refined self-development approaches of many classical yogas:
- Raja Yoga (by meditation),
- Jnana Yoga (by asking for higher intelligence guidance and wisdom),
- Karma Yoga (by purifying your karma),
- Bhakti Yoga (by surrendering to the divine),
- Hatha Yoga (by healing and empowering your body and personally evolving),
- Kriya Yoga (by raising your awareness and thus making your life actions more conscious and pure),
- Kundalini Yoga (by working on your chakras and energy body),
- Laya Yoga (by dissolving the ego self and merging with the supreme self),
- Mantra Yoga (by mentally chanting and picturing mantras),
- Nada Yoga (by focusing on the outer and inner sounds),
- and Tantra Yoga (by weaving together many techniques of visualization for empowerment and spiritual growth).
For Whom is Yoga Nidra Practice Designed?
Yoga Nidra is really designed for anyone who wishes to reduce stress, anxiety, or reach a higher level of consciousness.
- In its basic level it can be used by those wishing health benefits.
- More advanced practiced can be for those who wish to trigger specific changes in life and achieve more difficult goals.
- The ultimate practice is for those who aspire for spiritual awakening.
How is Yoga Nidra Different from Meditation?
Yoga Nidra is a practice known as “yogic sleep” or “effortless relaxation” and is different from traditional meditation because it’s practiced while lying down on your back with as many comfort items and as much support as necessary.
In contrast, meditation is a broad term with various styles and ways to practice, but usually, it is done in a sitting position.
The goal of Yoga Nidra is a rejuvenating ‘sleep’, promoting deep body rest, whereas seated meditation is about controlling the mind.
Meditation encourages a straight sitting posture with the spine erect for better mental concentration. Yoga Nidra emphasizes the relaxation of the body to the level of sleep in a lying-down posture while the mind remains awake and aware.
What Are the Similarities between Meditation and Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra and Meditation involve slowing down and attention internalization. For these reasons Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) is often referred to as sleep meditation. Both practices exercise being alert, attentive, and awake on the level of consciousness to arrive at deeper awareness. Finally, both practices are aiming at reaching samadhi, a state of meditative absorption.
Does Yoga Nidra Help You Sleep?
Research has shown that Yoga Nidra can heal the sleep pattern, because it reduces stress and tension, and generally relax the body and mind. When practiced regularly, practitioners report a deeper and more rested sleep. It can be used to help one fall asleep at night or fall back to sleep if awoken. It is a beneficial practice to include in one’s overall treatment plan to address insomnia.
What Does Yoga Nidra Do to Your Brain?
Yoga Nidra has an impact on the entire body including the brain, lowering its waves into a Theta & Delta state, which is associated with higher states of consciousness. Theta (θ)4–8 Hz (deep relaxation, inward focus) and Delta (δ)0.5–4 Hz (sleep).
During this state, the hypothalamus is activated, resulting in decreased sympathetic nervous system activity. This leads to a reduction in stress and an increase in the brain’s ability to absorb and rewire new information. Additionally, conscious access to move beyond the ego mind is enabled, and a sense of Oneness is experienced.
Yoga Nidra also stimulates the production of dopamine, which is a type of neurotransmitter that allows you to feel pleasure, motivation, and satisfaction. The good feeling from achievement is caused by a surge of dopamine in the brain.
When Should You Not Do Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra should not be practiced right after eating as it can make a person more prone to falling asleep. It should also not be practiced when a person is feeling particularly anxious or stressed as the practice then won’t be so easy. It’s better then to go for a walk, spend some time in nature, until the mind calms down a bit.
When Should You Practice Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra should be practiced in the morning, or before going to bed, as this is when you are in the most relaxed state, conducive to a successful session.
Yoga Nidra for Anxiety and Depression
Yoga Nidra regulates the autonomic nervous system and thus can be used as an important part of physical and emotional healing. It promotes deep rest which reduces anxiety as well as recharges you with energy and positivity to help depression.
Yoga Nidra to Reduce Stress and Improve Sleep Quality
The parasympathetic nervous system is activated during Yoga Nidra session, and thus reduces stress and improves sleep quality. It is also a simple, low-risk treatment for stress, anxiety, and insomnia. With regular practice, it can help you find peace of mind and improve your overall health.
Yoga Nidra Summary – Relaxation of Body and Mind by Directing Attention Inward
Yoga Nidra, the ancient form of guided meditation known as yogic sleep lets your conscious mind relax so that the the deeper levels of your mind – the subconscious and unconscious – are accessible for you. You are detaching from any tensions, by focusing on the breath and directing attention inward beyond the normal perception of your body. You enter into a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, an evolutionary state of meditation. Thus, Yoga Nidra takes you for an inward journey of self-discovery, self-realization, and ultimately spiritual awakening.