A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga Nidra
The Space Between Asleep and Awake
The purpose of yoga nidra is to arrive at deep relaxation, in the space between awake and asleep. The practice is so effective that it is often prescribed by GP's worldwide as a way to treat anxiety, depression and PTSD.
Yoga nidra slows the wavelengths in our minds as we enter a sleep like state, with the experience often starting by sensing the body and mindfully breathing to trigger a relaxation response, leading to a deep relaxation of the mind and body.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is also known as "yogic sleep" and dates back to the earliest written yogic texts and is beneficial for both the body and the mind.
It has been show to increase focus and attention, alleviate sleep issues, tension, anxiety, stress, chronic pain and more.
What is the difference between yoga nidra and meditation?
Guided meditation may be done in a seated or lotus position, and the goal is to build mindfulness and awareness. Yoga nidra is also a guided practice, but it's typically done in the savasana pose, with a goal of deep relaxation and finding the middle ground between sleep and consciousness.
What to expect
In a guided class your teacher will take you through various story-telling, breathing instructions and visual imagery which are all designed to facilitate deep healing, knowledge, growth and offer a window into exploring the true Self.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra,
- Yoga nidra counteracts stress and is prescribed by GPs in many countries
- Provides effective relief for depression and long standing anxiety
- It is an efficient way to obtain sleep
- Clears the mind for learning and absorbing new material
- Releases tension for body and mind
- Relaxes the mind
- Helps with creativity
- Hormonal re-balance
- Offers the opportunity to learn about ourselves intimately
"Some people crave the profound relaxation that this practice instills, while other practitioners use the non-judgmental and secure atmosphere that yoga nidra provides as a window into themselves. Yoga nidra offers a space to explore what you need in the moment, as well as an opportunity to work on releasing long-held emotions" ~ Allison Ray Jeraci.
Along with spending time outdoors in nature and consuming nutritious foods, Yoga nidra is one of the best, natural and free medicines we can take for optimal health. Stress reduction, improved sleep, boosted immunity and healing and slowed premature ageing are some of its continued benefits.
In deep relaxation we activate our parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ nervous system which helps to rebalance hormones, dampen inflammation, repair damaged cells and quells the amygdala (our danger alarm bell in the brain) and thus our anxiety.
Forty-five minutes of yoga nidra is said to be equal to up to 3 hours of sleep!!! This is due to the changes in brain-waves that take place during the practice.
Delta & Theta Waves
There are five brain waves (Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta and Gamma), which we all experience. Each comes with its own characteristics that dominate a specific state of consciousness and brain activity.
In Yoga Nidra, the Theta and Delta waves dominate. Yoga nidra guides us into the deepest state of sleep where the brain produces theta (4-7 hertz) and delta waves (1-3 hertz), but we remain conscious throughout.
At optimal Theta frequency, we are our most creative, inspired, insightful, spiritually connected, deeply relaxed, yet still conscious of our surroundings. Delta waves are the slowest recorded brain waves in humans and associated with the deepest levels of relaxation and healing. They are the gateway to the universal unconscious mind where information received is otherwise unavailable at the conscious level. Below Delta, your brain is thoughtless and this state of lost consciousness where you remain awake is the ultimate point you are trying to touch into with Nidra. This state trains the body and mind to enter into deep relaxation and therefore achieve good quality deep sleep.
Yoga nidra can be used to heal from trauma. According to an article in the Boston Globe, “In 2006, the Department of Defence conducted research at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre on the efficacy of yoga nidra on soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. This led to the incorporation of yoga nidra into weekly treatment programs for soldiers in several VA facilities across the country.”
Reduces Chronic Pain
The practice of yogic sleep gives the body time to rest, recover and restore, which thereby brings down inflammation and improves the function of the immune system.
Reduces PMS Symptoms
According to a recent study, “… patients with menstrual irregularities having psychological problems improved significantly in the areas of their wellbeing, anxiety and depression by learning and applying a programme based on Yogic intervention (Yoga Nidra).”
Improves Sleep and Reduces Insomnia
Yoga nidra improves sleep and reduces insomnia. Insomnia and sleep deprivation contribute to mental disorders, stress management (or lack there of), and immune suppression. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults and young adults get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Yoga nidra trains the mind and body to relax and move more easily into the deeper states of sleep. Forty-five minutes of yoga nidra is equal to up to 3 hours of sleep!
Plants The Seeds of Future Growth
The work done in yoga nidra with a sankalpa (an intention or positive affirmation) can facilitate life altering changes in our thought patterns, relationships and achievements.
This Yoga Nidra Video Will Help You Fall Asleep in 5 Minutes or Less Tonight
If you’re feeling stressed and short on time, making it to your favourite yoga class may be out of the question (even through it’s exactly what you need). This guided Yoga Nidra sequence is the next best thing. You’ll spend 10 minutes in Savasana (Corpse Pose) as Rosie Acosta guides you through a brief body scan and deep breathing exercises that will have you feeling more relaxed than you have in a long time. https://bit.ly/2Sf9U0f