It’s Time To Bask In The Ultimate Relaxation Experience And Boost Your Wellness Today!
What Is Yoga Nidra?
Loosely translated as ‘yogic sleep’, Yoga Nidra aims at helping you reach a state of insight and stillness which will ultimately lead you to a state of self-discovery and pure inner awareness. It is a simple practice that every one of all different ages and stages can do.
In our busy daily lives, our bodies and minds are always tensed up, full of anxiety and worry. What yoga Nidra does is provide a way to let go of all that tension and surrender to your true inner self. This inner self, which we tend to tune out for a whole number or reasons, is made up of a cluster of elements set together.
Once you accept all of these elements and assimilate them as one, you acknowledge that they are indeed part of a whole. Only then will you reach a state of true inner peace, with a better understanding of yourself and the world around you.
Yoga Nidra is a reclined practice that is fundamentally a state of tranquil consciousness, somewhere between being awake and falling asleep. It is during this stage that your body is fully relaxed, so much so that it is described as being the deepest forms of relaxation. This is because it allows the participant to fully let go and relax physically, mentally and emotionally which brings you closer to paying close attention to your inner self.
Four of your five senses are taught to tune in more with a sense of awareness and attention to detail, while focusing inward through audio instructions that help you concentrate and reach a state of inner calm at the same time.
This is the main reason why you should practice yoga Nidra with an experienced yoga instructor who is proficient at delivering verbal instructions in a peaceful, soothing manner, if not in person, then choose trustworthy audio recordings that make you feel serene.
Even though you remain conscious of your bodily processes, many yoga Nidra practitioners are mainly aware of the dream environment and their thoughts at a subconscious level, while losing cognizance of their actual surroundings.
In actual sleep, you lose track of yourself, of time and place. However, in yoga Nidra, you remain conscious of the outer world with just a trace of awareness, albeit faintly, and focus more on inner lucidity and effortlessness while you experience deep rest.
Meditation Versus Yoga Nidra
Many might refer to this as a form of meditation, which is partly true. Yet what distinguishes yoga Nidra from traditional meditation is your point of focus. When you meditate, you tend to focus on a single point. You are told that it is better to tune out everything else and give your attention to just one thing.
Yoga Nidra is different in this perspective because its main goal is to focus not on only one thing, but several things in a definite, laid-out pattern.
Yoga Nidra heightens all your senses and brings inner peace and a palpable sense of awareness of your true self.
Nevertheless, despite their differences, they do share one common goal: reaching a state of intense concentration and spiritual consciousness known as samadhi.
History of Yoga Nidra
The name “yoga Nidra” originates from Sanskrit; yoga means a one way pointed awareness and Nidra means sleeping. This form of yoga was pioneered by Swami Satyananda Saraswati from Bihar school of yoga in the 1960s.
The aim of yoga Nidra is to revitalize the harmonious influence of your subconscious.
Once Swami began studying the tantric scriptures, he started constructing a system of repose and tranquility.
Yet the concept itself started many years ago in ancient Indian traditions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Its main objective is to teach us how to quieten the over- active conscious mind and reach a state of ‘ultimate harmony’ where brain waves slow down. Swami elaborated on an ancient idea, polished it, and put it in the spotlight for everyone to appreciate and experience it.
In the ancient yoga text of ‘Mandukya Upanishads’ (*), there is a reference to four stages of yoga Nidra.
Swami did some research and decided it needed to be simplified for today’s day and age, so he divided it into eight stages:
- Sankalpa (the solemn intention in the heart and mind)
- Rotation of consciousness
- Breath awareness
- Manifestation of opposites
- Create visualization
Benefits For Health and Wellness
Through regular practice with an audio recording, you can reach a state of healing and energy. It is believed that half an hour of practicing yoga Nidra has the same health benefits as several hours of sleep.
Most recordings last thirty minutes on average, and even though thirty minutes may sound like a lot to some, you just have to change your perspective to focus on what is more important and fully realize that there is no better way to utilize those thirty minutes.
You have to start by realizing and acknowledging that taking thirty minutes to do yoga nidra is not a waste of time; it is a way to re-energize, re-charge, and re-align your body, mind, and soul.
- Incorporating this type of relaxed awareness enables you to become more easy- going and better adept at handling stressful situations because when you consciously relaxed, you switch off the sympathetic nervous system. This is our flight-or-fight mode of self-preservation, which kicks in whenever we are faced with a stressful situation.
- However, when we switch it off, our bodies turn on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for inducing a state of relaxation by slowing the heart rate, respiration and glandular activity.
- On the physical front, yoga Nidra slows down your heart rate and breathing, and with it, your blood pressure as well. Moreover, when the body is relaxed, blood vessels dilate and blood flow increases.
- This state of restfulness also extends to the muscular system, which brings relief to aches and pains. This is especially helpful if you are used to working out. For example, following intense yoga postures, or really any type of intense physical activity, your body is likely to feel tense and exhausted as following heavy physical activity calcium ions seep into muscle cells resulting in muscle contractions and pains. Doing yoga Nidra right after a yoga session or intense physical exercise helps to flush these chemical deposits through the bloodstream providing relief for aching muscles.
- The psychological benefits are in abundance of course. Relaxing and accepting your true self, opening up to who you really are trains the mind to become more focused and in tune. Yoga Nidra helps release seated anxieties in the mind and reduces stress levels. Each one of us stores our fears and worries on an unconscious level. Therefore, when we fall into a conscious state of controlled sleep gives you the opportunity to face your fears, and then ultimately release them from your unconscious so that you are no longer shackled by them.
- There are also spiritual benefits that you reap from yoga nidra. We go through our daily activities as mere observers, passive and out of touch. Yet yoga nidra helps you connect deeper and more knowingly with your true being and self, giving you the freedom to live your life as who you really are, while connecting your inner you with everything that goes on around you, and be really there in the moment.
- Healing practices like yoga nidra are very effective in alleviating depression, stress, anxiety and repairing the body to restore calm and balance. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls relaxation responses in the body, it creates a state of complete relaxation. Yogic sleep as yoga Nidra just may be the best natural alternative to taking prescription medication for insomnia caused by stress and to greatly improve your stress reaction profile.
Here are just some of the things practicing yoga nidra can help alleviate:
- Boosts immunity
- Improves depression
- Alleviates anxiety
- Chronic pain
- Chemical dependency
- PTSD in veterans
- Calms the nervous system
- Improves digestive process
- Releases negative emotions and thought patterns
- Improves sleep quality
- Can heal psychological wounds
- Gives sense of joy and well-being
- Deep relaxation for very effective stress relief and management
- Spiritual awakening
- Dealing with and healing from fear, grief, and anger
- More effective and energized sleep
- Improves concentration, memory and how the brain processes information
Perhaps the best benefit of yoga nidra is the ability you gain to control your mindset, and how you perceive things around you. You can teach your mind to think in a certain way, and with it, alter your entire outlook on life for the better.
How To Do Yoga Nidra
Most people treat yoga as a regular physical workout routine when in fact yoga sessions provide deep restoration to both body and mind alike. To further make your session more effective, try ending it with a yoga nidra session.
Think of your body as an engine. After a long drive, an engine needs to rest and cool off – it is the same with our bodies.
After working out, yoga poses or other form of exercises, we need to cool down our bodies by doing yoga nidra to help support and merge all the energy gained from all the yoga poses.
Through guided audio meditation, consistency and awareness, knowledge and inner- discovery, yoga nidra works on cultivating layered levels of well-being.
The guided audio is the best part about this form of yoga because only then can you really let go and focus without getting frustrated and discouraged. Yoga nidra sessions can last anywhere from five minutes to one hour, depending on your preference.
In addition, because all you need is a quiet room, then finding the right time and place is just as easy.
Some people find that practicing yoga nidra at night helps them drift into sleep since you are already lying down in your bed anyway. Others find it more beneficial if they do it after their yoga sessions.
Now that we have chosen the time and place, let’s get started.
A usual yoga nidra session consists of a yoga teacher, or instructor, guiding the practitioners through several levels, or stages.
- The first stage is declaring your intention for the session and, ultimately, your life.
- Then the teacher will tell you to focus on your breathing, how you are feeling and what you are thinking.
- Then, very gradually, you will be asked to simply let go by engaging your power of surrender, which may not be easy as it may sound.
Through traditional techniques of relaxation and meditation simultaneously working together, the guided audio applies language that is easily accessible and guides the practitioners to the ultimate goal of yoga nidra; reaching an internal awareness of one’s true self.
According to, Rod Stryker, the founder of Para-Yoga, and author The Four Desires, the practice of yoga Nidra reaches the most profound levels of relaxation possible, and allows the practitioner to view him or herself in the most positive light.
The audio instructions in yoga Nidra guide the practitioners guided to consciously focus on different parts of their body, which stimulates the nerves in those areas of the body and facilitates the unification of yoga postures into our system.
Yoga nidra encourages the mind to shift from the waking state into the dream and deep sleep states. The trick that makes yoga nidra so special is that this transition is done consciously, using the tools of stillness, controlled breathing and letting go. This state of awareness helps the practitioner access layers of the subconscious mind with clarity and true intention.
A short version is practiced in less than 10 minutes, which can be a quick release for those seeking a quick recharge. It is a great way to find relaxation and rejuvenation even if you have a tight schedule.
Below are 10 steps to easily help you start your yoga nidra session.
These steps are designed to awaken the subconscious and conscious mind while relaxing the body. This aims at helping the practitioner let go of the emotional and physical tensions pent up in the body.
Setting up your space is crucial to staying comfortable and warm. Place a mat on the floor and place a pillow for your head, make sure it easily supports your neck. You can also add cushions for your knees and lower back for extra support.
Having a light blanket is also useful because once you reach a relaxed state, your body temperature cools down, and fingers and toes tend to get a bit chilly.
Dim the lights and have the room as quiet as possible. Close your eyes and relax.
Take a few deep breaths in and out. Remember to take slow, controlled, and relaxed breaths.
- Focus on What You Really Want – Think of something you really desire; inner peace, lots of money, prestige, a prominent career, love, health. Imagine that your number one desire is already within your grasp and experience that feeling with all of your being. Feel it as if it were true.
- Reflect on your Intention – Consciously thinking of what you intend your yoga nidra session to accomplish can do wonders. Your intention can be to find inner peace, to relax, and to reach some emotion or belief. Whatever it may be, the important part is to embrace your intention and accept it with clarity and purpose.
- Discover your Safe Haven – Any place or person that makes you feel safe and at peace is your safe haven; your Inner Resource. You can re-capture that feeling of security during the session, or even at any time, you feel overcome with stress and anxiety. It will help you feel secure and at ease, while restoring your inner confidence and buoyancy.
- Be Aware of Your Body – Your awareness is something you can control. Slowly move your hands over your body, focusing your senses on each part. Starting from the top of your head, bit-by-bit sense each part as you move from your forehead, neck, even your scalp and throat. Feel your torso and pelvis. Next, scan your arms, moving from the top of your shoulders, to the inside of your elbows to each palm, focusing on the right palm first, then the left, then both at once. Repeat the same procedure for your hips, legs, and feet. Finally, sense your whole body and picture it as a force filed of energy radiating vigor and vitality.
- Be Aware of How you Breathe – Picture your body breathing on its own. Imagine how the air flows in and out as it passes through your nose, throat, lungs, and diaphragm. Sense the rhythmic movement of your abdomen rising and falling as each breath goes in and out. Most importantly, feel how your breathing gives your body energy and life.
- Embrace your Emotions – One of the most liberating things about yoga nidra is that it gives you the sensation of freedom from all the pressures of daily life to achieve inner peace. Welcome all sensations within you, good and bad. Without changing anything or thinking about what others might say or think, appreciating all your emotions and giving them the affirmation that they do in fact belong to you will leave you with a sense of inner quietness and composure.
- Make your Thoughts Come to Life – Just as you embraced your emotions, it is just as important to welcome your thoughts, which include your memories and mental images that present themselves in your mind. Even fleeting thoughts are vital and leave some kind of mark on your subconscious. In addition, just as you refrained from judging your emotions, you shouldn’t judge your thoughts or overthink them.
- Witness your Self – Be mindful of your unique self. This is your own personality. This identity that only you possess should receive affirmation that you own it with pride and awareness. Once you have accepted your identity, then it becomes easier to face stressful situations that may arise in your life because you know who you are and what your values are. Accepting your character as is means you have also embraced your thoughts, ideas, memories, emotions – past and present. This is the first step in reaching poise, serenity, and confidence.
- Think about your Intention – As you finish your practice, let your thoughts wander over what you have just gone through. You should complete your yoga nidra session knowing full well that this newfound sense of awareness is a part of your identity, and that it is always present within you. This feeling of equanimity and composure will now be integrated into your everyday life.
- Finishing your Session – Take your time to move from your dream state to your waking life. Give yourself time to re-familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Don’t rush it, especially when it is time to get up. Your body needs time to re- calibrate itself, so gradually open your eyes, and slowly sit up.
Incorporating Guided Meditation with Yoga Nidra
Yoga nidra is a systematic set of relaxation techniques that play a vital role in preparing the body and mind to enter a state of deep meditation. It may take a little time to get used to its techniques and practices, but once you start getting better at it, you enhance the meditation process through relaxation and awareness at the same time, because when you are aware, things are done better and faster, and with more focus.
This form of relaxed awareness is great to do year-round, but especially in the winter-time when it is more natural for the body to be a more rested state because the weather’s colder and the day is shorter. Moreover, since it strengthens the immune system, it is a great way to protect the body against any colds and flus.
Without meditation, yoga nidra would simply be falling asleep. It is the meditating that yields a sense of well-being and a deeper appreciation of aligning the body with the mind and soul. Only then, can we appreciate the profundity of this practice and of our inner bliss and calm.
The author of many yoga books and CDs, including “Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga”, psychologist Richard Miller advises that yoga Nidra can be performed in quick sessions in ten to fifteen minute increments or in longer sessions, lasting 30 minutes or more.
Miller who is at the forefront of the movement to teach yoga Nidra advises that while most people strive to change themselves, yoga Nidra takes the viewpoint of welcoming themselves as they are in the here and the now. Subsequently, that moment of true welcoming allows for profound transformation to take place.
Yoga Nidra: Salvation For Our Hectic and Stressful Modern World
One thing is true, the modern world is hectic, overly stimulating, and just plain stressful. Stress related complaints account for more than 60% of doctor visits and HMOs report that stress reduction, through practices like meditation play a significant role in patient’s health and wellness.
There are four main goals of yoga nidra:
- Create a relaxed environment so that your senses are heightened and your body and mind are relaxed
- Slow down and unwind
- Nourish body, mind and soul
- Increase creativity, spontaneity and awareness
The best thing about yoga nidra is that it soothes the body and helps release the confusion and anxiety that burden us on a daily basis. It is a wonderful way to rebalance the mind, body, and spirit because of its relaxing and rejuvenating facilities.
According to the American Psychological Association, our high stress levels are, in large, due to a lack of effective coping mechanisms on a societal level that are engrained in our culture and perpetuate unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors in future generations.
Most of us feel like there are not enough hours in the day to do everything on our list, whether it is work, kids, or other responsibilities.
We are always trying to do too much because we are always trying to get ahead. This results in day-to-day grind that is impossible to escape from. We don’t have time to lay back, unwind, and relax, and when we do, we are so wired up; we don’t know how to relax.
Our nervous systems are stuck in our flight-or-fight modes that we have lost the ability to shut it off. Our emotional and mental patterns continue non-stop, even after a full night’s sleep. We wake up lethargic and out-of-focus, as though we hadn’t slept at all.
However, the good news is that after a yoga nidra session…
- You feel refreshed and re-energized.
- You start thinking positively.
- You have a new outlook on life, and you start going about your day with a whole lot more drive than before.
This is why yoga nidra is so helpful for those with busy schedules.
Since it is a form of guided relaxation, it ultimately helps you relax tense muscles, lowering blood pressure, slowing down heart rate and regulate breathing – all without moving a muscle.
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Every one of us needs to learn how to relax. It has been proven that there are very few people who actually know how to fully unwind, let go and practice the deliberate art of relaxation. However, this practice is critical for our overall health, wellness, and subsequently our quality of life.
Yet we all love kicking back and relaxing, no doubt about it, and this is where yoga nidra comes in. Because relaxing doesn’t come naturally to us and we need someone to teach us how to do it, and yoga nidra’s guided audio instructions are perfect in that sense.
Yoga Nidra is easy, cheap, and painless. It can be done pretty much anywhere. It can last for just five minutes, or for as long as an hour.
The primary aim of this spiritual practice is to stimulate our true natures, and be in touch with our inner selves in an exceptional, potent, and inspiring way – which yoga Nidra accomplishes with every single session.