What is Yoga Nidra?
The first thing that is interesting about Yoga Nidra is that we literally do ‘nothing’, yet the benefits and wonders for the body and mind are astounding. Yoga nidra can be as restorative as sleep, or even better than sleep even though it shouldn't be used as a substitute for sleep. It offers benefits that go deep down to the subtle levels of our being.
Never heard of Yoga Nidra? Neither had I before I started teaching yoga. In fact, I don't recall it being taught during my yoga teacher training either. If I had, I certainly would have been doing Yoga Nidra a lot longer because this style of yoga fits me so well as one who "just couldn't clear my mind enough to meditate."
Since immersing myself in the learning and teaching of Yoga Nidra (pronounced Nih-drah), I have been telling EVERYONE I can about it, offering workshops on it like this one here and creating quick Yoga Nidra guides for beginners.
The definition of Yoga Nidra is 'yogic sleep'. It is a state of conscious deep sleep that goes far beyond deep relaxation. It's this glorious place that you can access where awareness remains yet the thinking mind withdraws.
Yoga Nidra for me is like a ‘power plus nap’ that recharges me in no time. It is a complete rejuvenation package – a must to relieve ourselves of daily stress in today’s busy world.
There is some key information to know if you are a beginner.
Yoga Nidra, Meditation or Hypnosis?
Having tried all three, how does Yoga Nidra compare to Meditation and Hypnosis?
We practice Yoga Nidra lying down, there is an emphasis on positioning the body in the relaxation pose or Savasana so that you can let go completely and balance the flow of breath and energy through your body. Props, pillows and blankets are commonly used, and help you get into a restorative and restful position.
A typical Yoga Nidra practice is vocally guided by the instructor and takes your attention to specific places of sensory and body awareness. In Yoga Nidra, your brain waves are in a sleep state, yet you remain awake.
Meditation is typically done in a seated upright position where your body is alert. In meditation we stay awake and notice, observe, and remain undisturbed when thoughts, words, feelings, beliefs and images move through our minds. We stay in what's called the "waking" state of consciousness.
I enjoy a good guided hypnosis session from time to time where the brain wave state is deep but less so than Yoga Nidra. During hypnotherapy, the body and conscious mind are in a relaxed, natural state, while the subconscious mind remains awake and receptive to suggestion. Hypnotherapy is an education-communication process within a persons mind that links the conscious and subconscious mind to be on the same page.
What are the health benefits to Yoga Nidra?
The first thing I noticed within my very first Yoga Nidra experience was how totally relaxed you become when you include Yoga Nidra after a yoga class. The body and mind need the time to assimilate the effects of the asanas or postures. Additionally, lying down in Yoga Nidra helps cool the body and restores it to normal temperature.
Another astonishing benefit to Yoga Nidra happens off of the mat. In Yoga Nidra, positive suggestions originate and come from ourselves for lasting and constructive change. This is called setting an intention or Sankalpa. There is this ability to dwell in a relaxed, blissful state that leads to healing and personal transformation.
To summarize, the benefits of Yoga Nidra include:
- Deep rest in few minutes, similar to rest after overnight sleep
- Ease insomnia
- Rejuvenation at physical and mental level
- Decrease anxiety
- Boost your immune system
- Alleviate stress
- Reduce chronic pain
- Increase focus
- Transform negative habits
- Bring awareness of peace, calmness and clarity
*Yoga Nidra is not a substitute for sleeping, however, due to the brain wave state, one hour of Yoga Nidra is equal to about four hours of typical sleep. If I can find at least 20 minutes in my day to practice Yoga Nidra, I notice a huge shift in my focus and clarity. You'll enjoy living with a clear head and eventually, your window of tolerance increases leaving mood swings and emotional upsets significantly fewer.
How often should I do Yoga Nidra?
If you are thinking, wait, I'm literally doing "nothing" and this is supposed to help....?
Yeah, pretty much.
You see, when you work with awareness (mind not wandering elsewhere), the work gets done better and faster. Nidra means a relaxed state of mind but when we add awareness to it, it becomes Yoga Nidra.
Regular practice (daily to several times per week) is strongly recommended if you want to reap the benefits. I have coached Yoga Nidra as well as Meditation and the best results have come from the consistent practice of Yoga Nidra.
Often emotional and mental patterns continue from the previous day. But through the experience of Yoga Nidra, these patterns erase after only a few sessions. It is as if someone presses the refresh button. Following Yoga Nidra instructions, you can experience a state of absolute bliss too.
Yoga Nidra Guided Audio
It is said that the real wisdom doesn't come from reading about or talking about it, but from experiencing it. Please check out this guided Yoga Nidra Audio Session that I originally recorded for myself and now wish to share with you.