Yoga Nidra is a very effective practice of dynamic relaxation which helps to improve sleep, reduce stress, increase immune function, as well as aiding in the relief of fatigue and chronic pain. If you feel as if you don’t get adequate sleep or you find yourself completely exhausted at the end of your work day, Yoga Nidra is the practice you need. Use this gentle practice to refill your inner-well.
People of all mobilities, sizes, and ages can practice Yoga Nidra safely. All that is needed is the ability to either lie down in a comfortable position or to sit. You will then be guided by your instructor into a state of relaxation as well as through a series of awareness practices including guided visualization, conscious breathing, and body scanning. It is advisable that you wear comfortable clothes and bring with you a pillow and/or a blanket.
Yoga Nidra refers to the state of consciousness between waking consciousness and sleeping consciousness where the regeneration and relaxation response occur. The healing practice helps to relieve stress patterns by retraining of the nervous system to relax thereby creating a natural setting for self-healing of the body. It is a perfect supplement to regular yoga, meditation, therapy, and other healing modality.
In Yoga Nidra, your brain enters into healing theta brainwaves, your body will get into its healing parasympathetic response and you are able to release samskaras. Samskaras are the emotional or energetic patterns and blockages that restrict your life and drain your energy. It is believed that an hour of practicing Yoga Nidra is equivalent to getting 4 hours of regular sleep.
A body of research that is growing indicates that mind-body approaches like this helps people interweave various healthy practices into daily life that help to promote better sleep, alleviate pain, reduce anxiety, increase resiliency, and teach self-care management into daily life at a fraction of the cost associated with traditional therapies.
Research studies conducted at the University of Ohio, University of Missouri, and others have revealed that Yoga Nidra techniques are effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia, trauma, addiction, stress, depression, to increase feelings of well-being, to lower cholesterol, to strengthen the endocrine system, to balance the nervous system, and enhance motivation and creativity.
In 2005, a study conducted at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center revealed that Yoga Nidra techniques are very effective in reducing PTSD symptoms in veterans. Currently, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well as 30+ other VA and army hospitals use one of the Yoga Nidra protocols for treatment of army veterans.
Theta BrainwavesFor Centuries, Theta brainwaves have been in use in meditation. It is quite common for people to feel as if they are in a trance, where the mind feels as if it has gone to sleep even though it still retains consciousness of what is happening around it. Theta brainwaves state induce a capacity for extended daydreaming, where one may experience a loss of time.
Theta brainwaves are also quite conducive for creativity and visualization and in this highly relaxed state, the mind is highly receptive to direct suggestion under hypnosis. In Theta, just as in Alpha, the hemispheres of the brain are synchronized and you will experience whole brain functioning.
Benefits & Features Of Theta Brainwaves
- Deep relaxation
- Improved sense of emotional stability and inner peace
- Calming of the chatter of the mind
- Heightened inspiration and intuition
- Improved memory
- Enhanced psychic abilities and a sense of spiritual connection
Health Benefits Of Theta Brainwaves
- Reduction of stress and anxiety
- Reduced mental fatigue
- Sleep onset as well as better and more restful sleep
- Release of beneficial hormones related to longevity and health
- Improved physical healing/speed healing
10 Steps To Help You Enjoy Deep Relaxation With Yoga Nidra Meditation
I. Take some time to get comfortable
Allocate yourself at least 10 to 15 minutes for a short version of Yoga Nidra. Find a calm and quiet environment and lie down. Use a light blanket to cover yourself and if helpful you can also cover the eyes using a towel. Try to stay present and still. Close the eyes and relax and be ready to follow the voice of the instructor guiding the practice. You can find guided pre-recorded sessions in downloadable format on iTunes or Amazon.
II. Set your SankalpaFor your Yoga Nidra, visualize a positive intention or deep resolve. You can either say it to yourself a couple of times or you can say it out loud. Feel the Sankalpa spreading through the body suffusing your awareness. Next, release your intention and let it go. Seeds of your intention will always carry on even after dropping your conscious focus.
III. Opening the sensesWelcome any tastes, sensations, and smells, in the environment you are currently in. Notice images, thoughts, feelings as they arise and fade away and allow your mind and body to just be. With your eyes closed, allow for your internal vision to start taking shape. Rest easy and remain curious and open to the practice. Focus attention on every particular instruction as prompted by your guide.
IV. Becoming aware of your breathingUsing your nose, breathe in and out with simple but welcoming breaths. Take note of the flow and invite your breath in and then out. Always remember to take slow and relaxing breaths. With each successive breath release a bit of tension. Use your imagination to increase your exhalation. It is advisable to imagine inhaling via the crown of the head directly to the heart then exhaling from the heart all the way down to the soles of your feet as well as toes. Imagine having the entirety of your body inhale and the entirety of your body exhale. Repeat this for a few times.
V. Practicing Countdown BreathsBreathe in while you say the number ‘50’ mentally. Breathe out then say the number ‘49’ mentally. The next inhale is the number ‘48’ while the next exhale is the number ‘37’. Keep this backward countdown until you reach the number ‘1’. You do not need to rush. Do not be frustrated in case you miss a number. Be friendly to yourself even when you fall asleep or forget to keep proper count. Start counting again when you receive the next cue from your instructor. Feel your body becoming deeply relaxed with every outbreath as you count backwards from 50 to 1.
VI. Relaxing Muscles Progressively
Relax all the muscles in your body by squeezing then relaxing. Focus on every unique muscle or muscle group as you go. For instance, the instructor may ask that you tighten your hands as much as possible getting progressively tighter and then finally releasing. Each Yoga Nidra makes use of different progressions or sequences to take you through your body, simply go with it. Do not force yourself to concentrate or to overthink. Just follow the guiding voice from location to location within the body. As you tighten and release you can encourage each muscle subtly to breathe with you a little.
VII. Becoming Aware Of Your Entire BodyLet go of the tightening sequence and take a full tour of your body. Initially, become aware of the entire body at once. How do you feel? Allow yourself to be weightless and light or heavy and dense – simply experience whatever will arise. Your guide might ask you to move the awareness to other parts of your relaxed body possibly into areas you did not know even existed. Whatever sensations you find there, welcome them. Keep still while you continue focusing attention on every part of the body.
VIII. Bringing In the LightWhile you move through the sequence, your instructor will prompt you to imagine your awareness as a golden light that touches all parts of your body. Caress the fingers, eyes, your navel, the space between organs – suffuse the whole body with soothing light. Next, radiate this light outwards starting with friends then to family and finally to everybody that you know. Finally, radiate the light to all things and beings. Imagine that the light you are sending out to others is being sent back to you. Continue receiving and giving and allow your sense of self as well as others begin to dissolve. Bask in this radiant and shared sensation.
IX. Taking Some Final BreathsCome back to your breath. Do not think too much about it simply experience the movement both in and out. Allow your breath to nurture and hold you. The instructor may request that you revisit your Sankalpa or intention. You can even do that on an in breath, then let it go on an out breath. Finally, return to your natural respiration’s gentle rhythm.
X. Closing The Practice
Wiggle both your toes and fingers. Start moving your body around. Do you feel tender and loving? Peaceful and relaxed? Awake and energized? Roll onto your side gently then sit up. Open the eyes then come back to waking life. Has the awareness changed? Feel any joy, warmth, or soothing feelings you have generated into the mind, body, and spirit and beyond.
Yoga Nidra is an amazing relaxation technique that helps to get into a meditative state as well as reduce stress. We have covered some of benefits from Yoga Nidra as well as ten tips for enjoying deep relaxation with this technique. Give Yoga Nidra a try and see how it works for you.
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