Note: This article does not constitute medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before making any decisions regarding your health
Yoga Nidra, also known as the yoga of sleep is a form of relaxation that combines meditation with breathing techniques. It is known to originate from India and is now practised worldwide.
If you've ever had trouble falling asleep, chances are that you're familiar with how frustrating insomnia can be—and if your problem isn't getting better after trying everything, such as melatonin supplements, then maybe you should consider learning more about another relaxing technique called Yoga Nidra.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is a type of guided meditation that uses simple physical postures and breath control exercises designed to help calm our minds so we can relax deeper into dreamland without having to worry about waking up again.
While there's no scientific evidence suggesting that Yoga Nidra will work miracles overnight, many people have reported significant improvements in their overall well-being while practising this technique on an ongoing basis.
So what exactly does Yoga Nidra entail? And why might its practice benefit you? Keep reading to find out!
How Does Yoga Nidra Work?
In essence, Yoga Nidra aims to achieve two things simultaneously, and that too through gentle movements, sounds, and meditations specifically geared toward helping us fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Firstly, calming down any thoughts running amok in our heads, especially those associated with anxiety, fear, stress, or negativity. And secondly, slowing down the mind's racing activity to such an extent that can allow us to drift off naturally to sleep.
"It’s like taking a vacation where all you do is lie around," explains Dr John Friend in his book The Power Of Meditation & Guided Imagery For Insomniacs.
In other words, instead of spending hours worrying over upcoming deadlines or stressing over current ones, you simply focus entirely on yourself and nothing outside of your environment — including television shows, phone calls, emails, etc.
During a session of Yoga Nidra, participants typically use props such as blankets, pillows, and even towels, but these aren't mandatory. Many practitioners prefer to keep sessions short and sweet, lasting between 20 minutes and one hour depending on personal preference. Some may choose to take breaks throughout the process.
While not everyone who practices Yoga Nidra experiences similar results, most people report feeling refreshed and rejuvenated afterwards.
According to a 2019 study published in Clinical Psychology Review, research indicates that Yoga Nidra could potentially reduce psychological distress, improve quality of life, relieve pain, and boost general wellness among adults dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and eating disorders. However, further studies are needed to confirm these findings.
As mentioned earlier, there hasn't been any conclusive research proving whether Yoga Nidra actually works wonders for anyone suffering from specific ailments or conditions.
Nevertheless, according to Dr Friend, there is ample anecdotal proof showing that this method can provide major benefits to sufferers of various health issues — often within just days of starting the program.
The Benefits of Practising Yoga Nidra
When it comes to finding true happiness and inner peace, sometimes less really is more. That's particularly true when it comes to sleeping peacefully and deeply every night. Unfortunately, modern society often places a high premium on productivity and efficiency rather than giving ourselves permission to enjoy life fully, and that attitude ultimately sabotages sleep patterns and leads to poor mental and emotional health.
That's precisely why Yoga Nidra offers a solution by encouraging us to slow down, relax, and reconnect with our innate selflessness, compassion, and love. Not only does it alleviate feelings of tension and anxiety commonly experienced throughout each day, but it helps us feel calmer and more at ease as we transition from wakefulness into sleep mode.
One of the main goals of Yoga Nidra is to promote healthy sleep cycles, but it doesn't necessarily treat specific types of sleep disorders like snoring, apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, parasomnias, circadian rhythm disruption, and others.
Instead, Yoga Nidra focuses solely on improving overall sleep hygiene, teaching us how to manage stress levels, maintain regularity in meal times, avoid alcohol consumption prior to going to bed, exercise consistently, and develop positive habits conducive to good sleep.
Another key component of Yoga Nidra involves cultivating awareness and focusing inward, allowing for greater reflection on oneself and how lifestyle choices impact mood and emotions.
By doing so, we learn how to make healthier decisions moving forward based on new insights gained through introspection. Lastly, Yoga Nidra teaches us how to cultivate patience, kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, gratitude, humility, and unconditional love, thereby reducing negative emotions and fostering a sense of harmony and wholeness.
Tips For Beginners
For those looking to incorporate Yoga Nidra into their lives on a weekly basis, here are a few tips on how to begin developing a routine that makes a difference in your overall wellbeing.
Firstly, beginners should start small and gradually build up strength and stamina over time. If possible, try to complete a 10-minute class or sequence before attempting a 30-minute session.
Take frequent mini rests in between larger blocks of time dedicated to Yoga Nidra. Five to ten minute periods of sitting quietly in silence are ideal.
Consider completing shorter sessions twice per week instead of committing to long stretches each day. Longer sessions tend to cause boredom and burnout, whereas shorter sequences offer variety and encourage creativity.
Try incorporating Yoga Nidra into your morning commute. Simply listen to a recording while driving to and fro until you notice your pace begins to quicken and your heart rate slows down.
While Yoga Nidra is a very powerful practice that can offer a lot internally, you may not experience benefits instantly. Just enjoy the process with persistence, and see the wonders yourself!