Yoga Nidra, also known as yogic relaxation therapy, is a practical health approach to treat or manage various psychosomatic disorders, such as peptic ulcers, colitis, bronchial asthma, menstrual irregularities, and cancer.
Yoga Nidra is a method of Pratyahara and a form of guided meditation that enables you to focus on your mind in a state of relaxed consciousness. In simple words, it is yogic sleep, allowing you to control your body’s relaxation response.
Unlike the standard meditation technique, Yoga Nidra focuses on deep sleep to calm your nervous system, relieving stress and anxiety symptoms.
A 2011 study concludes that women with menstrual irregularities can practice Yoga Nidra to reduce symptoms of major depressive disorders, such as stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia.
Here are seven things you need to know about Yoga Nidra.
1. Yoga Nidra is Simple
Yoga Nidra is one of the easiest yogic practices because you don’t need to perform turns, headstands, twists, and other physical postures. Unlike standard yoga practices that can last between 15 and 60 minutes, Yoga Nidra can span a few hours.
You can do this type of yoga at any time, except after consuming meals. The ideal time to perform Yoga Nidra is in the morning, after meditation or asana, or before you go to sleep. Although you don’t lose consciousness, your body and brain rest through deep relaxation.
2. Yoga Nidra Helps Treat Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a common health condition characterized by stress, sleep problems, and pain in different body areas. Yoga Nidra is an effective treatment option for fibromyalgia because it soothes your muscles and relieves chronic fatigue, insomnia, and pain.
A 2019 research study concludes that combining Yoga Nidra into your daily or weekly yoga program improves mood, decreases stress, increases self-confidence, soothes muscles, and reduces negative emotions associated with fibromyalgia.
3. Regulate Interoceptive Awareness
Practicing Yoga Nidra counteracts hyperactivity in your brain, especially in the frontal cortex, to regulate interoceptive awareness. It supports a restorative state of your brain and balances your body and mind.
When you practice Yoga Nidra, your brain transitions from an active state of beta waves into alpha waves, relaxing your subconscious mind and releasing chemicals like serotonin to soothe your brain.
Serotonin releasing in the alpha phase moves your body into a deeply relaxed state, leading to tranquility. When you enter into a deeper conscious sleep, the brain emits delta waves, causing restful sleep and improving your overall health and wellbeing.
One study highlights that Yoga Nidra meditation increases dopamine levels in the ventral striatum and helps calm people with social anxiety. Researchers provide evidence that Yoga Nidra triggers the brain’s pineal gland to release melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.
4. Yoga Nidra Starts with Savasana
You start Yoga Nidra by placing your body in Savasana. A qualified guru teaches his students to move and rotate their consciousness or awareness through different body parts, relaxing each part while staying still.
Putting your body in Savasana helps integrate your muscle memory and nervous system. It enables your blood pressure and heart rate to return to their baselines. When your body achieves the baseline thresholds, it slowly transitions to a relaxed state, allowing you to reflect on your feelings.
Starting Yoga Nidra in Savasana recalibrates your body and mind to reboot your day, primarily if you practice it in the mid-afternoon. Experiencing Yoga Nidra in the Savasana posture helps you remain conscious and alert.
5. Yoga Nidra Originates From Tantra
Tantra focuses on your body’s subtle energies to enhance your physical health and spiritual wellbeing. It helps you explore your body energies and their connection to the spiritual dimensions, allowing you to align your breath, emotions, feelings, and Prana (subtle energy).
When you enter into a relaxed state of Yoga Nidra, your body works with Pranamaya kosha to purify your chakras and activate kundalini energy, awakening your divine purpose and cleansing your energy systems, such as meridians and chakras. A 2008 study shows that Yoga Nidra is a sophisticated meditation tool to streamline your kundalini energy.
6. Improves Sex Life
A growing body of research evidence highlights that some types of sexual dysfunctions can be managed by treating mental health conditions. Yoga Nidra increases your brain and body awareness, increasing blood flow to different body organs, including your genital area. It helps eliminate toxins and improves overall sexual performance.
A recent study performed by Anjali Mangesh Joshi and fellow researchers found that Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation technique to reduce stress and depression. The study concludes that combining Yoga Nidra with meditation, tantra yoga, kundalini yoga, and Bindu Samrakshana can regulate hormones, strengthen pelvic muscles, and manage risks associated with sexual dysfunction.
7. Yoga Nidra has Eight Stages
The eight stages of Yoga Nidra are internalization, Sankalpa, consciousness rotation, breathing awareness, the manifestation of opposites, creative visualization, repeated Sankalpa, and externalization. During the internalization stage, your awareness transitions inwards from the physical body.
When you enter Sankalpa, you set a specific intention to achieve a higher level of consciousness. Your body guides you to rotate your consciousness and visualize your body part by repeating its name. You focus on your breathing and explore opposite emotions to create simple visualizations based on various topics in your mind.
Repeated Sankalpa is the next stage in which you repeat the original intention and make it penetrate deep inside your body and mind. Bringing sensations back to your body is the final stage of Yoga Nidra, known as externalization.
How to Deepen Your Understanding of Yoga Nidra
Begin your Yoga Nidra practice by utilizing tools and resources available to you like guided meditations, or work with a certified yoga instructor and meditation guide to walk you through the required steps. Once you can practice Yoga Nidra on your own, begin to incorporate it into your daily rituals. If you are interested in furthering your practice or learning more about Yoga Nidra, consider getting certified.
Arhanta Yoga provides a 50-hour yoga teacher training course online, where you receive comprehensive training and can study at your own pace. During the course, you learn everything from how to practice Yoga Nidra correctly, to how to develop the right voice and script.