Yoga Nidra: How It Works, Benefits, Postures, and More
Yoga Nidra translates to Yogic Sleep. It can help you sleep or take a powerful nap, reducing your stress and anxiety. When compared to conventional sleep, it is more effective.
Online, you can find many Yoga Nidra Guided Meditations for 10 Minutes, 15 Minutes, 20 Minutes, or even 30 Minutes. Apart from the hearing, you will surrender all the other four senses in Yoga Nidra to achieve that state of mind without any thoughts. The sense of hearing will be there, as the process is more popular with a guided meditation.
Let’s understand what Yoga Nidra, its benefits, and how it works.
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What is Yoga Nidra?
When you perform Yoga Nidra, you channel the waves of your mind to sleep. Here, a trigger relaxing response is triggered by your breathing, which helps in balancing your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. This balances your left and right brain. The brain now changes from beta to alpha. Beta has several brain activities, while in alpha state, the mind is in a relaxed state.
When you are in the alpha state of your brain, a hormone called serotonin is released in your body. Serotonin can help you regulate your moods and calm down. Spending more time in your brain’s alpha state can help you reduce the amount of anxiety you feel. It is your brain’s resting state.
Let’s dive into more details and understand how it works.
How Yoga Nidra Works
From the alpha state, you then move onto deep alpha and high theta brain waves. From there, there is a dream state and REM sleep. The thoughts slow down in theta states. They can go as low as 4 to 8 thoughts per second.
Entering the Zone
In theta wavelength, you are the most creative and ready to learn. Artists and kids are prone to have more theta activities in their brains. You can also see random images or go into random thoughts. Many people can see colors, visions, or even hear someone talking. This is where you enter the nothingness of your brain.
After theta brain-waves, there is a delta state. Here your thoughts will only be around 1 to 3.9 per second. It is the state that will help you remove cortisol from your system, which is a stress hormone.
People in coma stay in this state, and that gives their bodies to restore themselves. On a day-to-day basis, people cannot regularly go to theta and delta state, resulting in people not getting the chance to refresh themselves. People who struggle with depression and anxiety rarely achieve theta and delta states and often stay in beta and alpha states.
Yoga Nidra & Your Mind
Yoga Nidra takes you in an even deeper state of being that comes after delta. This state cannot be reached through conventional sleeping. In this state, your brain will be void of any thoughts. You will be awake, but your consciousness will be very low. It is a state of surrender where your body will be far from your consciousness. It is also essential to know that not everyone who is doing Yoga Nidra can reach this state. However, it can be changed with constant practice.
Once you achieve this state, you will be guided back to the waking state. Even in the waking state, you will feel the peace you have achieved in the fourth stage of your sleep. Since you were not asleep, you will be able to remember the feelings and emotions. Your mind and consciousness are adaptive in this state, and therefore, it will be more open. It will also slowly come to your everyday life, giving you a sense of freedom with your emotions and thought process. There will be fewer and fewer triggers left in your life.
Moreover, Yoga Nidra meditation will call for attention to your third eye, the space between your eyebrows. This spot lies right on top of your pineal gland, and the gland is stimulated when you bring your attention here. The pineal gland hormone releases melatonin, reduces stress, gets better sleep, and improves your immunity. Thus, Yoga Nidra can also protect you from illness and helps the healing process.
This is how it works, but why should you do it? Well, there can be multiple reasons to start Yoga Nidra. Here are some of the reasons why Yoga Nidra should be added to your routine.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
Here are all the benefits of Yoga Nidra
Helps you Sleep, Better than Sleeping!
Though it is not a sleeping process, a very few minutes of Yoga Nidra can benefit you as much as 3 hours of regular sleep. You can feel energized and refreshed when you come out of your session. Moreover, it can be an activity at night that will lead you to sleep.
Helps Overall Health
Yoga Nidra helps you with overall health as well. It has been proven to prevent depression. In women, it can help with irregular menstrual cycles and other psychological problems. Yoga Nidra also helps you in healing after surgeries and with chronic pain. It will lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. That is likely to relieve your symptoms associated with diabetes.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
If you are familiar with the benefits of meditations, they all apply here, too. It will help you reduce stress and anxiety, and bring calmness to your mind. It will help you clear the mental chatter. It will help yourself and others around you. Regularly practicing Yoga Nidra can help you with mental freedom from stress and anxiety as the relaxation response and improved nervous system functioning can elevate your mood.
Yoga Nidra is a Simple Process
One more benefit of Nidra Yoga is that the practice is easy to incorporate into your daily life. Also, it can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as 30 minutes or even more. It can be a part of your bedtime routine. The process itself takes place when you are lying down!
There is No Wrong Way
Also, there is no incorrect way to do Yoga Nidra. You will lie down in the position of Savasana and continue with your process. You may experience many things every time you practice Yoga Nidra, but none of them can be wrong. You can even fall asleep. It’s always a win-win-win situation.
Now that we know how Yoga Nidra can help us in many ways, it is time for us to see some of the necessary steps to approach Yoga Nidra. Here is how to do Yoga Nidra.
Yoga Nidra Steps
As mentioned, Yoga Nidra is a process you perform in savasana, and you don’t have to prepare hard for the procedure. Just find a comfortable place to lie down and start. It can be the floor, a yoga mat, or your bed. Let’s dive in.
- First of all, you need to choose a clear intention. Then lie down on your back with your arms on your side. Take the position of savasana, or whatever feels you the most comfortable.
- You can use a cushion under your neck or knees for added support and comfort.
- Close your eyes. Think about what you want to achieve with Yoga Nidra in your mind three times.
- Take a couple of deep breaths and focus on the exhalation.
- Focus on your body parts one after another and bring awareness to them. Start with the right side and then go to the left. Feel every part of your body and go through them quickly.
- Bring awareness to your body as a whole. Keep doing the awareness process with both the left and right sides of your body until you feel relaxed.
- Feel the calmness and peace, the nothingness that your mind feels. Be aware of your body, breathing, and the space around you.
- Once again, think about your intention and then come back to your body.
- Once you are done, it is time to come back to your consciousness from the state of Yoga Nidra. Take a deep breath and open your eyes when you feel like it.
Is savasana the only posture you can perform Yoga Nidra in? Let’s find out.
Savasana: The Ultimate Yoga Nidra Posture?
Savasana is by far the most comfortable position to get into Yoga Nidra. If you are familiar with the posture, you will know why. It is called the corpse pose as it is a relaxed position one performs while lying down. However, there are alternatives available which we will discuss further.
For those who are not familiar with it, here is how to perform savasana:
- Lie down on your back on the mat, the floor, or you can even choose to do it on the bed.
- Keep your legs stretched out and your arms on the side. Your back should be naturally resting in a way that is the most comfortable to you.
- Let your knees fall open on either side, relaxed from any tension. Your body should be completely relaxed now, resting on the mat.
Many people also use blankets to deepen the effects of Yoga Nidra, which is entirely optional.
Another Posturer for Yoga Nidra
If you are suffering from a knee or lower back injury, Savasana can be uncomfortable in some cases. For that, you can use a bolster or cushion under your knees for additional support.
Here, you start with savasana and then slide the bolster under your knees. Similarly, you can also put a pillow under your head to support your neck. Be aware of the arch or your neck if you do so.
Yoga Nidra is an excellent bridge between Yoga and Meditation. It takes a posture from Yoga and adds the ‘peace of mind’ and ‘awareness’ factor from Meditation to give you the best of both worlds. As we saw, there are several benefits to Yoga Nidra which you just cannot miss! Start today if you already haven’t.
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