What Is Yoga Nidra? 8 Benefits Of Yoga Nidra | Yogic Sleep Meditation

Sunil Murthy
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What Is Yoga Nidra ?

Yoga nidra is a meditative practice that’s part of “Laya Yoga.” Meaning the yoga of the intuitive self. This form of yoga is designed to take the mind into the unconscious. Inhabit the subconscious. To free the mind from its thoughts and create an inner awakening.

It is very much like sleep meditation. The idea is that you can meditate so deeply that you are in a sleep state and you are aware of it.

You may be surprised how full of dreams and night mares your sleep can be.

This is not meditation in the traditional sense. When you meditate in the classic sense, you are usually aware. When you meditate in the sleep state, you are completely unaware. This is a state that is naturally hard to achieve because the body and mind don’t want to drop into the sleep state. It is an unnatural act.

The body and mind fight you because they are used to being alert.

Yoga Nidra is a voice over guided meditation that transports you into the sleep state. Imagine a person whispering to you at night as you drift off to sleep. That tone is very calm and soothing too. It’s designed to put your body to sleep and put your mind in a focus state instead of a generating state.

Why Should You Practice Yoga Nidra ?

One of the surprising characteristics of Yoga Nidra is that it improves your sleep dramatically. That is why it is also called “yogic sleep”. And since most Americans get just about 5 hours of sleep a night, Yoga Nidra is a good step in the right direction. Here are some of its other sleep benefits:

Yoga Nidra Balances Your Hormones

Hormonal imbalances can cause insomnia, but Yoga Nidra helps in balancing your hormones, and can even cure the ones that are imbalanced. The hormone cortisol is a stress hormone that is released during sleep. It is the hormone that gives you the feel-good feel in the morning. If it is not released in the right amount everyday, it can cause hormonal imbalance. Yoga Nidra helps reduce cortisol levels in your body.

Yoga Nidra Improves Your Immune System

One of the most powerful benefits of Yoga Nidra, which helps you have a positive attitude towards your health, is that it helps your immunity system. Your body is constantly surrounded by aggressors like germs, pollutants, and negative thoughts, which can affect your immunity and put you at risk of infections and diseases. Trying Yoga Nidra can help you protect your body from these aggressors.

Yoga Nidra Improves Your Concentration

How is Yoga Nidra different from any other form of meditation?

While yoga nidra and other meditations are beneficial, nidra meditation is distinctive because it is a form of active meditation. Many people will meditate by sitting quietly and letting their thoughts pass by. While meditation does offer mental clarity, it is not specifically designed for the health benefits that nidra meditation offers.

Yoga nidra is a deep sleep yoga meditation. This means that you are practicing meditative techniques and training the mind to turn off the chatter of everyday thoughts that keep you awake at night. This practice is not new, it has been around for thousands of years, but its revival in recent years has proven its effectiveness.

Yoga nidra is different from other forms of meditation because you are not meditating into a quiet state. No, you are meditating from a chaotic one. This is the secret behind the power of Yoga Nidra. It is a restorative form of mediation, but unlike other forms of meditation, you are not watching your thoughts pass by you. You are actively meditating on them. By doing this you create a buffer of peacefulness between your meditations and your everyday thoughts. The result being a much calmer and more restful sleep.

What do we experience during Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra instruction typically begins with a short relaxation exercise that consists of quieting the mind and slowing the breath. Once the practioner is relaxed, the soothing sounds of gongs and bowls may be used to induce the meditative state called “yogic sleep,” which is the content of Yoga Nidra. Sounds, movements, and sensations are used to bring the body into a state of complete relaxation and awareness. The practitioner’s focus is on breathing and on experiencing the sounds, sensations, and movements.

#1 Produces Delta And Theta Wave

One hallmark of Yoga Nidra is the production of high-frequency EEG activity. This activity is documented during each phase of the meditation, and includes both [theta][Delta] waves, the EEG signatures of deep and profound deep relaxation.

A study of Yoga Nidra reveals that it generates a unique alpha wave that is experienced only when meditating with Yoga Nidra. This specialized alpha wave accounts for approximately 20% of the total power within the spectrum.

The EEG patterns of the meditation state of Yoga Nidra span the spectrum from highly alert to very deeply sleeping states.

#2 Helps In Healing Trauma

Yoga Nidra or Yoga Sleep Meditation or Yogic Sleep is one the most powerful and most profound healing practices in Yoga. It is the art of self-awareness and self-healing through the deep state of relaxation and trance. In Yoga Nidra a Yogic practitioner slowly takes him or herself into a level of awareness deeper than the conscious state. This is a state of subconsciousness where, as a Yogi says, “All is one, and that one is a peaceful, tranquil state, free from duality and objectivity.”

Yoga Nidra can be thought of as Dream Yoga, since it teaches us the potential of those activities that occur during sleep. In Yoga Nidra, we are able to tap into this state of subconsciousness and manipulate the flow of energy within the Chakra system. This triggers the release of stress and the healing vibrations of the inner body, resulting in a profound state of relaxation, rejuvenation, and healing.

Research shows that Yoga Nidra practice, when practiced regularly, is effective in improving deep sleep and counteracts insomnia. Yoga Nidra increases deep sleep, and for those who do not experience any deep sleep at all, Yoga Nidra helps to incorporate dreamless sleep.

As a Yoga Nidra practitioner, you will be able to help others re-program their subconscious and establish a state of harmony and balance in their lives.

Yoga-Nidra is an ancient practice of meditation that combines passive relaxation techniques with deep breathing. The practice requires the ability to focus and relax at the same time. While some relaxation techniques lessen stress, they fall short when it comes to improving your physical, mental, and overall productivity. On the other hand, many relaxation techniques are difficult to perform and can, in fact, be stressful to do.

Many find it difficult to control the thoughts that float through their minds; the only way to remove the constant barrage of thoughts is by manipulating the way your mind works. Yoga-Nidra allows your body to relax while controlling your mind, setting it in a passive state with helpful relaxation benefits.

Yoga-Nidra can be performed while lying flat on your back, in a chair, or on the floor. The purpose is to find your ideal relaxation level. You can start with lying completely flat on a mat and slowly fall asleep. You are able to relax your body, your mind, and your breathing, while remaining completely aware of the natural breathing pattern.

The goal of Yoga-Nidra is to achieve a deep trance state, where you have only the vaguest awareness of your surroundings. This is what truly differentiates Yoga from other relaxation techniques. Yoga-Nidra also increases your creativity, improves your ability to focus, and provides physical benefits.

#3 Helps In Reducing Stress

Yoga nidra helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Research suggests that the technique activates the body’s relaxation response. Since anxiety is defined as ‘overly worried, apprehensive or fearful’ it is easy to see how a regular practice of yoga nidra can help you to reduce anxiety.

Researchers have found that yoga nidra reduces levels of cortisol which is the stress hormone. Cortisol is released in times of stress and it is vital to help us cope with stress in the short term. But cortisol over-production can lead to a cascade of hormonal and chemical changes that get out of control. If you abuse your body with high levels of stress over a period of time you can be contributing to a build-up of this hormone in your body and the long term effects will hurt your health. Yoga nidra has been shown to lower cortisol and high levels of cortisol can lead to weight gain, immune dysfunction, impaired cognitive performance and sleep dysfunction.

A regular yoga nidra practice will also help you to be more aware and mindful. Mindfulness is a proven way to help with anxiety and depression and when you make a regular practice of yoga nidra you will train your mind to work more effectively. As you become more aware of your thoughts, your feelings and your body you will have more control over your well-being.

Yoga-Nidra is an ancient practice of meditation that combines passive relaxation techniques with deep breathing. The practice requires the ability to focus and relax at the same time. While some relaxation techniques lessen stress, they fall short when it comes to improving your physical, mental, and overall productivity. On the other hand, many relaxation techniques are difficult to perform and can, in fact, be stressful to do.

Many find it difficult to control the thoughts that float through their minds; the only way to remove the constant barrage of thoughts is by manipulating the way your mind works. Yoga-Nidra allows your body to relax while controlling your mind, setting it in a passive state with helpful relaxation benefits.

Yoga-Nidra can be performed while lying flat on your back, in a chair, or on the floor. The purpose is to find your ideal relaxation level. You can start with lying completely flat on a mat and slowly fall asleep. You are able to relax your body, your mind, and your breathing, while remaining completely aware of the natural breathing pattern.

The goal of Yoga-Nidra is to achieve a deep trance state, where you have only the vaguest awareness of your surroundings. This is what truly differentiates Yoga from other relaxation techniques. Yoga-Nidra also increases your creativity, improves your ability to focus, and provides physical benefits.

#4 Helps In Reducing Chronic Pain

Reducing chronic pain isn’t easy. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that yoga nidra can help.

Chronic pain wears on you mentally and emotionally. It is exhausting to never know quite what’s in store day after day. And if you’re in pain often enough, it can change the way you look at your life, making you feel like your life is out of your control.

For this reason, your physical, mental, and emotional state can be severely negatively impacted by chronic pain.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the benefit of yoga nidra and pain management. In a recent study, it was found that relaxation techniques such as yoga nidra can help alleviate chronic pain. It is believed this is the first study to take a close look at the effectiveness of practice of yoga nidra as a management technique. While there are many ways to manage chronic pain, mindfulness and relaxation techniques are becoming more and more popular treatments.

The study found that relaxation techniques, like yoga nidra, help people learn to relax. It’s an important step to take because relaxation has shown to help people who have chronic pain manage their pain better.

#5 Helps In Reducing PMS Symptoms

Menstrual cramping is one of the most common complaints among women who experience some level of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Yoga Nidra is an ideal yoga practice to help relieve the pain and bloating associated with that time of the month. It does this through three main exercises.

First, it helps you to relax by focusing on each body part one by one and just relaxing that part. While some find this boring, the repetition can be healing. And remember that just because you focus on the negative doesn't mean you experience the negative. Focus on the relaxing element of your body, repeat the process, let your brain go and allow your body to feel what it needs to feel.

Second, Yoga Nidra helps to calm your nervous system down. By focusing on your muscles and allowing tension to dissolve and relaxation to come in, your nervous system begins to settle and down. In addition, Yoga Nidra uses breathing exercises, which allow for complete relaxation by helping your body and brain understand that it doesn’t have to worry about the next task and that it can just relax.

#6 Helps In Reducing Insomnia (Sleep Improvement)

Yogic meditation for improved sleep can help in restoring sleep over an extended duration of time. Even if you suffer from sleep issues, you can still get ample sleep with regular practice of Yoga Nidra.

In simple words, Yoga Nidra means yogic sleep. It’s a relaxation technique that helps a person enter into a state of hypnotic trance state. In this state, the mind is deeply relaxed, yet conscious and aware.

When we are asleep, our body usually remains in a state of relaxation and repose. However, most people don’t get enough sleep for a number of reasons. They usually wake up feeling cranky, tired, and lethargic. Sleep deprivation is the cause of many illnesses and problems, including hypertension, depression, obesity, and diabetes.

Through relaxation techniques, your sleep can be regulated and also give relief from stress, anxiety, and fatigue.

#7 Helps In Reducing Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes

Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation or sleep meditation that is based a detailed series of self-awareness instructions. These help to usher the mind into an increasingly deeper sense of connection with the breath, ultimately leading the listener to a complete sense of present awareness, beyond which there is only pure consciousness. The practice of Yoga Nidra is a way to experience peace, contentment, and creativity, which are all impacted by stress. Yoga Nidra is a simple technique for self-awareness intended to help one gain a deeper understanding of who one is, and a sense of peace. This practice is for everyone. Yoga Nidra is especially helpful for those suffering from high blood pressure, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, mood disorders, anxiety and depression.

You can make use of Yoga Nidra to cure the conditions mentioned above. The Yoga Nidra state is described as a revelatory state of relaxation that can result from combining Metta (loving-kindness) meditation with the process of Yoga Nidra.

#8 Helps To Learn About Yourself Intimately

Yoga Nidra is a Yogic sleep meditation. Yogic sleep meditation is a one of the ways to relax deeply. Here are the benefits it has to offer to you.

By learning yoga nidra you will be get a chance to learn the roots of human existence. By learning yoga sleep meditation you will get to learn about your needs and how it is intricately connected to each of the cells of your body. By learning yoga sleep meditation you will get to know your body and be able to relax it to the point of being able to be totally unconscious and re-energized at the same time.

It will give you the awareness and the balance that you need. Yoga nidra will also help you balance your mind and body. It helps you relax and at the same time, it energizes you. Yoga Nidra will help you relieve anxiety and restlessness.

Yoga nidra will also help you release emotions and negative attitudes, which are not serving you and help you in becoming more optimistic. For some it will help you overcome many hurdles and problems that you face in your daily life. Yoga Nidra will help you heal mentally, physically and emotionally.

How To Practice Yoga Nidra ? Different Stages Of Preparation

Yoga Nidra is the deep relaxation at the end of a yoga practice. Just as it is important to prepare your mind and body for your yoga sessions, proper preparation is necessary for the deep relaxation practice.

The following eight steps will help you prepare.

Make sure you are physically warm, heated by your practice if possible.

Sit or lie in a comfortable position.

Slowly close your eyes and relax your body.

Focus on your breathing. Take deep, rhythmic breaths.

The four preparatory stages of Yoga Nidra are:

{1}. Relax your body:
{2}. First, focus on the lower part of your body, and let it relax inward toward the center of gravity. Continue up through your torso, neck, and face.
{3}. Second, relax each area, one at a time, in reverse order.
{4}. Surrender to the breath:
{5}. Resist surrendering by holding your breath, tensing muscles, making fists, et al.
{6}. Repeat the previous “relaxing” stage quietly, in your mind.
{7}. “Center” your awareness, bring it to the present:
{8}. Bring your awareness to your breath: feel and focus on each breath as it enters and exits.

Preparation

Yoga Nidra has it's origin in Kundalini Yoga. You are not supposed to exercise during your Yoga Nidra. Many people like to follow up their Yoga Nidra session with some light exercises, but you are not supposed to exercise during the Yoga Nidra session itself. According to Yogi Bhajan, you should avoid any form of exercise or physical activity prior to your Yoga Nidra session. This will give your body time to relax, rest and prepare.

\ What to Wear

Ask yourself what you feel comfortable wearing. Many people prefer to wear loose fitting clothing. Clothes with that are suitable for exercise are often not comfortable to wear while having Yoga Nidra. You can wear loose fitting pants or shorts. You do not need to change clothes when having Yoga Nidra, but if you comfortably feel more comfortable doing so, that is fine as well.

Sankalpa (Intention)

Before even starting your Yoga Nidra session, you must define an intention. What do you want to experience? What do you want to achieve?

What type of change do you want to experience during the session?

Is it a physical change (mood, energy, or pain relief, etc.)? Is it an emotional change (calmness, happiness, sadness, empathy, etc.)? Is it a spiritual gain (a connection with your higher self, awareness of the universe, more focused intentions, etc.)?

Set your intention, and hold it steadfastly throughout your Yoga Nidra session.

Rotation of Consciousness

Yoga nidra is not a sleep state; it is a state of consciousness with physical relaxation. The yogic sleep meditation, normally practiced in sitting or supine positions, should not be confused with sleep. In Yoga Nidra you are not asleep, but a transition happens in consciousness. The mind is very active but in an inward mode. You are in a nocturnal state or “waking sleep” You dream, but you are awake, in a state of consciousness that has the characteristics of being both awake and asleep.

This state of consciousness is induced by a carefully classical, multi-stage process involving body relaxation, mental focusing, and guided visualization. The mind is focused on a single abstract symbol, each repetition of the symbol leading to a deeper state of relaxed consciousness. The process resembles the nature of sensation in the early stages of sleep when a spider on the wall, a sound, or a falling leaf abruptly awakens us, but the focus dwindles before we can say, oh this is just another spider, sound, or falling leaf.

Breath Awareness

Breath awareness is a main component of yoga nidra. After practicing yoga nidra, you´ll wonder how you ever got along without it. You will wonder why anyone wouldn’t practice yoga nidra since it is so simple, so effective, and so relaxing. Breath awareness is simply paying close attention to your breath so that you become intensely aware of it and release a deep feeling of relaxation as the result.

For many people, breath awareness is only an exercise in focusing, which leads to a deeper relaxation. For others, breath awareness is a gateway to meditation techniques, like Vipassana and Zen. For these techniques, breath awareness leads to enlightenment. That is why many people say that practicing yoga nidra leads to enlightenment.

As you progress in yoga nidra, you must practice breath awareness more and more because the more you practice it, the more aware you become of “you.”

You become highly aware of who you are, how you are, where you are, and how much you are. Moreover, as you become more aware, the feeling of “you” becomes deeper and deeper. When you are so deeply aware, you must be meditating on your breathing and that is the path of enlightenment.

First comes awareness, followed by understanding, and then peace.

Opposite Feelings And Sensations

Basti is one of the easiest and most natural experiences in Ashtanga yoga therapy.

While you lie on your back with your knees bent, your right hand grasps the toes of the left foot and your left hand grasps the right big toe.

Press both fingers and toes firmly and pinch.

The pressure gradually relaxes or lasts 10 to 15 seconds, and then repeat this process.

This is a second of reprieve, that helps alleviate the obstruction of energy channels.

The muscle that is being pinched becomes soft and relaxed. This brings an opposite feeling and sensation. These moments of relief will bring relaxation, then move along the energy channels of the body.

These include the center of the body to the toes and from head to toe.

As the obstruction is removed, the energy channels will become more relaxed, open and filled with energy.

Visualization

Yoga nidra is a ancient, guided, yoga sleep meditation that combines yogic asanas (physical postures), conscious deep breathing, and traditional yoga nidra practice with conscious awareness, focus, and presence. Yoga Nidra is a guided conscious meditation that ends with relaxation.

Yoga nidra is Sanskrit for “yogic sleep.” It is a state that is deeper than sleep but not unconscious; you’re still aware of both yourself and the environment around you.

The ideal way to calm the mind and body for yoga nidra is through conscious deep breathing. The conscious deep breathing helps you to focus on your breathing and become aware of the present moment. Conscious deep breathing is a very unique breathing technique. Conscious deep breathing is different than relaxed breathing or casual breathing. Conscious deep breathing puts you in a state of focused awareness while you are inhaling and exhaling.

This technique brings health and healing benefits to your nervous system, shifts the brain waves to a relaxed state of being, and prepares the body for sleep.

Sankalpa

“Sankalpa” is a Sanskrit word that essentially means “resolution.” It is a positive and powerful declaration that is the result of reflection. A sankalpa is something that you mentally state before beginning a yoga nidra session. You should choose one that is meaningful to you and you can focus on mentally as you move through the relaxation and awareness sequence.

For example, you could choose a loved one to pray for or a loved one to contemplate as you meditate. When you choose a positive statement to focus upon, it will assist you in opening and deepening your connection to the mind/body/spirit connection and ultimately deepen your own spiritual awareness.

Ending The Practice Or ‘Waking Up’

When you think you are done with yoga nidra, slow down, rest for a few minutes, and then gently bring your attention back to the room you are in. Acknowledge that you are awake, but take your time before you get out of the comfortable position you are in. sit for a few minutes before you get up and start your day.

Breathe fully and deeply, in and out. As you do, imagine the flexibility you gained in your body and the serenity you feel in your heart leaving your body.

Before you get up, allow yourself another minute or two to soak in this warm, comforting energy in your heart and simply enjoy this feeling of satisfaction.

Conclusion:

Does this sound like a practice you might benefit from?

Are you ready to take yoga nidra a little deeper?

Do you want the most powerful version of the Kundalini Yoga nidra meditation?

Are you ready to take your transformation to the next level?

Check out my comprehensive course on Transcendental Meditation.

Guaranteed to help you sleep better, feel more relaxed and at peace, reduce stress and anxiety, and regain your energy!