Practices of Yoga Nidra for Sleep
Stress and anxiety are part of your everyday life, ensuring that you cannot escape this feeling no matter what you do. What is the solution to this? The only way to be stress-free and less anxious is to manage such issues effectively and healthily. Yoga Nidra, a form of guided meditation, is gaining global popularity for its plethora of physical and mental benefits. This article explores how yoga Nidra for sleep works and the benefits of practising it regularly.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Also known as yogic sleep or conscious relaxation, yoga Nidra focuses on moving away from the outer world into the inner world of the self. Under the guidance of a certified professional, one is taken through the five koshas or sheaths of self to help gain freedom from their self-limiting beliefs. Yoga Nidra sleep became famous by Swami Satyananda in the early 1960s. But this unique yoga was practised in Indian Subcontinent for more than a thousand years by Yogic and Saints, primarily famous in Gurukuls.
How does Yoga Nidra work for sleep?
Practitioners of this technique believe that one hour of yoga Nidra is equivalent to a few hours of sleep, making one feel energised and rejuvenated. The first few steps of yoga Nidra helps you understand your body and the functions of various organs within, which helps focus on your breathing to achieve a relaxed state of mind. This step helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
After a while, once the parasympathetic nervous system gets activated, the brainwaves shift from beta waves (The brain waves you emit when active) to alpha waves (waves that you emit as a relaxed state of mind).
At this stage, your brain releases serotonin which calms your mind plays a vital role in regulating your sleep cycle and further helps in body rejuvenation. The next step involves going from alpha to theta wave, where the body goes into a dream-like state. In this stage, your brain actively participates in deep reflection and learns new ways to remove self-limiting beliefs. Lastly, it switches from theta to delta waves, seen as the stage where the body restores itself before being taken back to the waking state. This entire cycle of yoga Nidra mimics that of a normal sleep cycle and brings strength and peace back with the practitioner.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra for sleep
Practising yoga Nidra regularly can benefit one in the following ways:
- It tackles insomnia and promotes regular sleep.
- It reduces anxiety, depression, and stress, responsible for lack of sleep.
- It relaxes your mind and body.
- Yoga Nidra improves control over moods and emotions.
- Significantly decreases the tension and pain in the body.
- Many yogic practitioners use this technique to do Shadow Work by reflecting on who they are.
The practices of Yoga Nidra for sleep
One session of yoga Nidra lasts for 30 to 45 minutes. Practise it under the guidance of a trained professional. Before you perform Yoga Nidra, you must consider a few tips. First, begin with making the room dim-lit with a cool temperature than usual. It helps to relax. Ideally, you need to be on an empty stomach and lie down comfortably to achieve Yoga Nidra. Now, follow the steps to go through the following steps:
- The first step involves visualising a Sankalpa or a lifelong goal and the joy one feels in achieving it.
- The next step requires understanding the intention or reason behind yoga Nidra. Be it relaxing your mind and body from a stressful day or addressing a deeply emotional issue, knowing one’s meaning allows it into one’s whole being.
- We bring awareness and tap into the inner resource present in our bodies. This safe and secure place allows us to feel comfortable and at peace. It can be a person, a place in your home, or a specific activity from which you draw the feeling of security.
- This step involves focus and attention to your body. Pay attention to every part of your body and understand how it feels to reduce tension in your body.
- Focus your attention on the air that flows in and out of your body. Become aware of how the air enters your nose, throat, ribcage and feel your stomach rise with the fuelling life force.
- Embrace the emotions you are feeling, positive or negative, with open arms. Don’t block these feelings and witness them with love and compassion without fear of judgment or criticism.
- Like the previous step, you observe your thoughts and the mental images it conjures without any judgment or criticism and allows them to pass like clouds on a beautiful sky.
- Feel and welcome the complete joy and bliss into your entire being with a feeling of peace and contentment.
- Experience an indescribable peace with everything and sleep into a deeper state of bliss and coming in contact with your deeper self.
- Slowly go from a deep state of bliss to wakefulness. Once you are awake, reflect on the feelings and thoughts you feel during yoga Nidra and how you can bring the same feeling of absolute joy into your daily life. Be grateful and start your day with a positive sense of being.
Upsides of the practices of Yoga Nidra for sleep
Practising yoga Nidra every day benefits your body and mind in various ways, allowing you to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain and go into a relaxed state of mind. It induces sleep and rejuvenates your body with energy.
Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice of moving away from the state of awareness to a relaxed and blissful state of mind. Practised for thousands of years, proponents of the method believe it allows you to journey through different layers of the self and let go of self-limiting thoughts. Regularly practising yogic sleep releases tension and stress from your body, keeps your anxiety and stress under control, and induces sleep in people who have insomnia. Ideally done on an empty stomach and in a dimly-lit, cool room, an hour of yoga Nidra can restore and rejuvenate your body to tackle the daily stresses of life.