This deep condition of conscious rest, an old technique of meditation that is becoming more popular, is no longer limited to ashram living or advanced yoga teacher training. That’s because the ancient practise of yoga nidra has several health and mental advantages, and people are finally recognising them.
Yoga nidra is an ancient method that induces deep levels of conscious relaxation in the practitioner. It is a methodical process of shifting awareness from our outward to our inner worlds.
In this blog, we will discuss various aspects of yoga nidra, including what it is, its benefits and how you can practice it.
Yoga nidra, also known as “yogic sleep,” is a paradoxical condition of being between sleep and consciousness that promotes deep emotional and physical healing, brain rewiring, and self-exploration. Richard Miller, Ph.D., author of the authoritative, frequently-referenced text Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing, has proposed that there is no separation between our dream state and reality because they inform each other, and yoga nidra is a practise that can help you get in touch with your truth.
It is normally done lying down, with a teacher conducting the session. We learn to surf between the states of awake and sleep, where our body finds its natural state of harmony (homeostasis) – the breath balances and quiets, unconscious and conscious components of the mind show themselves, and we fall into an instinctive level of deep, blissful awareness.
As we rest here, we can easily and seamlessly turn our focus to the very nature of awareness and consciousness. We begin to sense the ‘deeper’ aspects of yogic teachings that we may have previously dismissed as ethereal, such as our interrelated completeness and being aware of our genuine, united nature — spacious, inclusive, and wonderfully relaxing.
Yoga Nidra softly transports us to a condition of harmony and calm. We can be healed, repaired, and awakened to our innermost, all-knowing, all-welcoming selves from here. It is a sublime technique that is gaining popularity all over the world, and continuous research continues to demonstrate its efficacy.
Here are three ways yoga nidra can improve your life:
We’re all aware that a lack of sleep adds to a slew of additional problems. It is critical to obtain adequate sleep every night to avoid burnout, sadness, and a weakened immune system. Practicing yoga nidra for sleep is extremely beneficial. If you incorporate yoga nidra into your evening routine, you will fall asleep sooner and remain asleep longer.
As you enter a sleep-like condition, yoga nidra slows the waves in your mind. The experience frequently begins with sensing the body and breathing attentively to activate the relaxation response in your body. In preparation for yogic sleep, this response balances your left and right brains, as well as your sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve systems.
There is a sequence to follow before entirely powering down your brain and body, similar to driving, parking, and turning off a car. Yoga nidra prepares your mind and body for this relaxation process, allowing you to sleep better, making it the perfect type of yoga for sleep.
You will be immersed in a natural resting state during our yoga nidra meditation workshops. As your mind begins to quiet, you will gradually realise that your ideas are simply thoughts that come and go. You’ll learn to integrate this sense of mindfulness into your daily life as you gain a greater awareness of yourself in this resting state.
There is strength in being still and able to calm your mind, and yoga nidra can assist you in achieving this condition. Many people who practise yoga nidra on a regular basis report feeling refreshed after only 30 to 45 minutes.
By being more conscious of your body’s sensations, you become more aware of the tension and anxiety that are holding you back.
Overall, research on the advantages of yoga and yoga nidra has showed increases in emotional self-regulation, with lower levels of sadness, stress, and anxiety, as well as an increase in mood, quality of life, and well-being.
Yoga nidra is also one of the most effective ways for preparing the mind for a disciplined yoga practise, not just for physical or mental rest.
Shavasana is a resting yoga pose in which the physical body and mind are supposed to be silent and motionless, and the breath is supposed to be effortless and soft. Shav literally means “dead body” or “corpse,” therefore the stance is called Corpse Pose. The body and mind are deeply relaxed as a result of this utter stillness. Corpse Pose appears to be a simple pose, but many practitioners find it particularly difficult since it asks them to relinquish control of their bodily parts, allowing the breath to slow and the mind to calm.
Shavasana is often practised for one to five minutes. People frequently doze off in extended Shavasana, such as a longer final rest after asana practise. However, the goal is to just stop the thoughts, respiration, and senses, as if they were in a dead state.
On the other hand, the practitioner of Yoga Nidra instructs his students to lie down comfortably. Students should ideally lie down in Shavasana, which is the most natural and balanced resting position. However, it is also highly normal and appropriate to have pupils lie down on their stomachs or sides. The teacher walks the participants through a comprehensive script. At the start of the instructions, you are requested to make a Sankalpa, or a resolution to yourself, or to call on your deepest desire.
You may have had the experience of being half asleep and feeling as though your brain is snoozing. Yoga nidra can transport you to a state of consciousness that is somewhere between being awake and being asleep.
To summarise, Shavasana is a yoga pose or asana. Yoga nidra is a state of awareness that exists between sleep and wakefulness. The body is completely relaxed, yet the mind remains alert. The proper application of Shavasana may help one to experience yoga nidra, but the two are distinct concepts. Shavasana is not essential for Yoga Nidra, and practising it does not guarantee that one will experience yoga nidra.
Follow the steps below to effectively practice yoga nidra:
Step 1: In Corpse Pose (Shavasana), lie down flat on your back. Relax by closing your eyes. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply.
Step 2: Begin by paying careful attention to your right foot. Maintain your focus for a few seconds while relaxing your foot. Then slowly work your way up to the right knee, thigh, and hip. Become aware of your entire right leg.
Step 3: Reverse the procedure for the left leg. Gradually shift your focus to various areas of the body, including the genital area, stomach, navel region, and chest.
Step 4: Then, pay attention to the right shoulder, right arm, palms, and fingers on your right hand. Repeat this for the left shoulder, left arm, throat, face, and top of the head.
Step 5: Inhale deeply and pay attention to your body’s sensations. Relax for a few minutes in this state.
Step 6: Turn to your right side and lie down for a few more minutes, slowly becoming aware of your body and surroundings. When you roll over to the right side, your breath will travel via your left nostril, which will help you stay cool.
Step 7: You may then slowly sit up and slowly and gradually open your eyes, taking your time.
It’s important to note that while yoga nidra may not include multiple complex poses and stretching, it requires a great deal of mental awareness. Only by completely freeing your mind will you be able to reap the benefits.
In yoga nidra, you lie down with the intention of moving into a profound level of conscious awareness sleep, which is a more relaxed state with awareness.
Yoga nidra, often known as “yogic sleep” or “effortless relaxation,” is a type of guided meditation. It’s normally done lying down with a teacher leading you through the process.
In yoga nidra, you need to go into the Shavasana pose and become aware of your entire body, while entering a relax state of mind.
Unlike traditional meditation, which focuses all of your concentration on a single point, Yoga Nidra takes you through levels to reach your Atman, or inner self. Working through each kosha allows you to fall further, which is impossible to attain in the waking state of meditation.
While practising yoga nidra for insomnia is quite common, falling asleep while doing it isn’t usually recommended. When you fall asleep, you are completely unconscious and unable to learn since you are unable to perceive what is going on around you. To watch and experience the lack of activities in the mind and body, a small amount of consciousness must remain. After the session, you can reap the benefits of this type of yoga for better sleep.
Yoga nidra is a gentle but effective practise that can help us cope with daily stressors and triggers. However, it has the capacity to heal and expand us on a far deeper level, as the practise has the ability to release deep-seated traumas and move our awareness toward our most genuine self.
To learn more about the different types of yoga, benefits of practising yoga and the various poses, keep reading Seema!