Also known as dynamic sleep or yogic sleep, Yoga Nidra is a type of meditation that can provide many of the benefits of a good night’s sleep in much less time. Does it sound too good to be true? Meditation experts believe that just 30 minutes of Yoga Nidra can equate to the benefits of two hours of sleep. Much like the state between waking and sleeping, Yoga Nidra meditation balances your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
The first mention of Yoga Nidra was in the Upanishads between 800 and 500 BCE, and thanks to modern science and research, we now know what’s actually happening to your brain waves during practice. Your brain experiences different types of brain waves depending on the state that it’s in. When you are awake, your brain is experiencing beta waves which are active. As you start to relax and fall asleep, your brain experiences alpha waves, and then when you go into a deep sleep you are experiencing delta waves. What Yoga Nidra does is simply allows you to go into the hypnagogic state which is between alpha and theta waves.
Yoga Nidra is typically attained by following a guided meditation. Start out lying on your back in Savasana, also known as Corpse Pose. Alternatively, you can sit if you cannot lay down comfortably. This is a great advantage of Yoga Nidra because it is approachable. Children, seniors, and those new to yoga and meditation can easily try this out and experience its benefits.
You do not have to attend a Yoga Nidra class in order to practice. You can listen to an audio recording which will help put your body in a state of complete relaxation and will take you through the five layers of self.
Yoga Nidra is helpful with many issues. Some of them include alleviation of menstruation symptoms, anxiety and depression, and can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
In 2010, the Surgeon General of the US Army endorsed Yoga Nidra as a complementary alternative medicine for chronic pain, and the Army uses it to help soldiers recover from PTSD.
A great way to incorporate Yoga Nidra is right before bed. Once you are ready to lay down, you can play your Yoga Nidra script, and then drift off to sleep. It’s helpful for those who have trouble sleeping to be guided to a better state rather than staring at a phone or television screen.
Yoga Nidra is one of the most accessible forms of meditation. You can sit in any position, you’re not required to be an athlete or extremely fit to practice, and it’s so beneficial that everyone from children to seniors can practice. Yoga Nidra is always done through a guided meditation, so you aren’t faced with the challenge of meditating internally, alone. You can also choose how long you practice for. All of these aspects make Yoga Nidra a less daunting practice than most meditation.
If you practice Yoga Nidra on a regular basis, you will notice that you look forward to the practice and it will come easily to you.