Yoga Nidra is a beautiful practice for healing.
Let’s face it, many of us start yoga for that very reason (this was particularly true for me).
The familiar physical practice (i.e. the yoga poses) is where most of us start out. However, yoga offers an array of tools which go beyond the physical practice to help us with our health and wellbeing.
Yoga Nidra is one of them.
Yoga Nidra is a perfect antidote to our busy lives and in a world that is becoming ever more stressful, we need these tools to help bring us balance.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra (also called Yoga Sleep) is the perfect yoga practice for resting. It can last anything from 15 minutes to over an hour. Its purpose is to encourage the body and mind to move into a very deep state of relaxation.
It has been compared to the equivalent of a good night’s sleep.
When we sleep, our bodies have the chance to MOT themselves. Without adequate sleep, our health, over time can really suffer. Practising yoga Nidra can help make up for lost sleep so is a good friend to have in your back pocket.
How it works.
Yoga Nidra takes you on a journey through the brain waves.
We operate on different brain waves. These brain waves determine how active we are. We have brain waves which allow us to sleep and ones which enable us to stay awake.
For example, in Gamma mode, we are fully awake and generate the most brain waves (or activity) per second. In Delta mode, we are at our deepest resting state, including sleep. In this mode, we generate the least number of brain waves.
A Yoga Nidra practice takes you from fully awake to a deep resting state.
This process gives us the opportunity to heal and restore, whilst at the same time (as long as we don’t fall asleep which can happen when you first practice) enables us to connect to our inner self or deeper sub-consciousness.
Who Can Practice?
Absolutely anyone can practice yoga Nidra and it is particularly helpful for dealing with:
- Hormone issues – helps us get back into the rest and repair state.
- A super hectic lifestyle (pretty much all of us – I think)!
- An overactive or overthinking mind.
- Tiredness and/or chronic fatigue.
- Insomnia or broken sleep.
- A lack of direction or inner connection.
- Any life transition (i.e. motherhood or menopause, relationship or job change).
The Healing Benefits of Yoga Nidra
There are quite a few healing benefits of yoga Nidra but I will list the main ones below:
- Reduces the effects of stress by regulating the nervous system.
- Helps to rebalance hormones and get you feeling more calm and grounded.
- Enhances cognitive performance and memory.
- Improves self–esteem and confidence.
- Helps strengthen intuition and gut instinct.
- Improves our ability to be more present in life situations and less reactive (or emotional). Great for anyone who finds it hard to think before they speak.
- Induces better sleep and improves physical health.
- Can ease symptoms for people suffering from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Top Tips For Setting Up For Yoga Nidra
- Choose a time limit that works for you (15 minutes is fine – practice is better than no practice at the end of the day). Don’t judge yourself and above all don’t feel guilty.
- Find a comfortable place to practise where you will not be disturbed. This is really important otherwise you will not be able to let go and move into that state of deeper rest.
- Use props like pillows bolsters and blankets so that you can get really comfortable. Keep it simple though – straps for example are not needed here. You are resting after all.
- Know that you do not have to stay still for the duration. You can change position.
- Your breath is the focus that will help you move into stillness so in that respect it is as familiar as savasana. It just has some added elements to help you move into a deeper state of consciousness.
- Know that you can stop if it doesn’t feel right on any day. This is important. Your body and mind change day to day so if you find that it is not working out for you leave it and come back another time.
- Think about what you are going to do afterwards. For example, if you are using it as part of your bedtime routine you may want to practice in bed so that you have a nice transition into sleep.
What Makes Up a Typical Yoga Nidra Practice?
Yoga Nidra is made up of a sequence of different practices. We will go through each of them but do note that you do not need to include all of them every time you practice.
Settling in/preparation for practice ( includes breath awareness and becoming aware of your body )
Sankalpa – setting resolve or intention. Keep it positive and short (e.g. I am calm, I am enough, I am where I need to be, I am caring for my body and mind )
Rotation of consciousness (aims to distract the mind by giving it a focus). This stops you from thinking of everyday things.
Pairs of opposites (think of something light and then something heavy. This also stops the mind from thinking).
Counting (another way of keeping the mind focussed).
Visualisation (another way of keeping the mind focussed).
Sankalpa (repeat your sankalpa).
Return to waking (slow exit out of the deep relaxation state).
I hope this has made you excited about trying the healing benefits of yoga Nidra. Just for you, I have created this short FREE practice so that you can give it a go. I hope you enjoy it.