Yoga Nidra – What? How it works and Benefits

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra or yogic sleep is a powerful technique of relaxing the mind by relaxing the body promoting deep rest and relaxation that isn’t found in our everyday sleep. It is an amalgamation of visualisation and self-healing leading to stress reduction, better health and tons of other benefits. It can be used as a powerful self-development tool that heals the body and mind

How Yoga Nidra Works???

Yoga Nidra is an empowering meditation that starts with relaxation. It systematically fluctuates brain wave states, lowering beta and increasing alpha, theta and delta, which are known to have healing/ soothing effects. Let’s see how it actually works. 

First, let’s understand what these waves are and how they affect the state of our brain.

Beta, 13-40 waves/sec., normal, active

Alpha, 8-13 waves /sec., relaxed

Theta, 4-8 waves /sec., dream, sleep

Delta, 1-4 waves /sec., deep sleep

Yoga Nidra starts with you becoming aware of your breath and body, this not only relaxes your body but also brings balance to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Further, this shifts your brain from beta (a state with a lot of brain activity) to alpha (a relatively relaxed state). Beta state is known to be the reason for anxiety and restlessness. 

From alpha, your brain is slowly driven to theta (even lesser thoughts than alpha). Theta is the state where we get to learn/unlearn things quickly and we start accessing long-held emotions. Artists and kinds enjoy this state more often than others.

Followed by theta is the delta state (similar to when we are put under anaesthesia), which gives our bodies a chance to restore.

After you touch into the fourth state of consciousness, you are guided back to a waking state. This repeated to and fro from wakeful state to delta, gives a chance to rewire our thoughts and emotions because our subconscious mind in this fourth state is fertile, more open to intentions and affirmations, bringing us more peace and relaxation.

Benefits of Yoga Nidra

1. Releases stress and anxiety

Stress can be physical, emotional or mental and Yoga Nidra has proved to be useful in all of these

Causes of stress:

Physical: Nervous and endocrine imbalances, which manifests in the form of stiffness in the physical body

Emotional: Repression of emotions, over a period of time

Mental: Excessive activity of mind due to workload, study etc

In the practice of Yoga Nidra, awareness is rotated on different parts of the body, progressively relaxing each one of them. The step of Visualization induces relaxation on the mental plane. The images described by the instructor have a universal significance and powerful association which when visualized, relieves the mind. These steps result in  

  • Releasing the gathered muscular/physical stress.The practitioner is made aware of his breath, which stimulates muscular relaxation directed to every cell of the body.
  • Helping the practitioner recognise and release the emotional tensions or stress and the repressed emotions making the practitioner calm and serene.
  • Bringing hidden content of the unconscious mind to the conscious mind, relieving mental stress

2. Learn more about yourself

For some Yoga Nidra is a relaxation technique while for others, it’s a window to peep 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.

Since our childhood days, we carry a lot on emotions in our subconscious mind

which can cause negative reactions that take away our mental peace and harmony. These emotions in the form of impressions stay embedded in us. During Yoga Nidra, we get to experience these emotions and a pathway to freedom is created. Using this pathway, we get to acknowledge these emotions by confronting them, without being overwhelmed by them.

Accessing these deep impressions, again and again, releases them into the ocean of consciousness. At that point, these impressions lose their existence from our subconscious mind and we are liberated from them.

3. Help you identify our real goal

Generally, we are just a part of the rat race, where we are flowing with the flow. We hardly have time for ourselves and in all this hustle, we never get to realise what we really want. Yoga Nidra gives us that mental space where we can access our inner self and our goal (can short term or long term) appears to us with clarity.

4. Magnify your creative side

When the mind is relaxed only then a person can be creative. As already mentioned that Yoga Nidra helps melt away the stressful thoughts. This open state of mind-broadening creative expression and an open mind is much more conducive to clear, creative thoughts and problem-solving. Studies have proven that practising Yoga Nidra can rewire your brain for innovative thinking

So if you are creativity seeking person, Yoga Nidra is your answer.

5. It’s for everybody

It is rightly said that yoga is for everyone and for everybody. Although there are some practices like vinyasa or holding an asana for a long time which people may take time to achieve. Yoga Nidra on the other hand is a practice that everyone, from children to seniors, can do. It’s easy to follow at any age. All that your body needs to do is lie down or just sit(in case lying down is not possible)

My first Yoga Nidra experience

I still remember that Yoganidra experience!!

During yoga Nidra, we access that part of our brain which is generally inaccessible while we are awake. At times we get to experience emotions/memories etc.

It was my yoga teacher training course, after an intense yoga practice, we were made to do yoga Nidra. I clearly remember, somehow that day I was extremely flexible in my yoga practice so flexible that my body could take Pindasana for the very first time.

My teacher started Yoga Nidra, I told myself that I am going to stay awake throughout the practice as per the instructions of my teacher. I still remember that I could hardly scan the right side of the body and then I lost the incoming voice. Another journey of flashbacks started in my mind seeing myself as a baby. I could visualize my birth based on the facts given to me by my relatives/parents. I could visualize even the minute details, after that there were flashes of my childhood days.

I experienced the transition where I was strong, confident, fun-loving, having amazing bonds with everyone to a  state where I became a bit introvert and timid.

I remember visualising the baby version of me holding my grandfather’s finger on the day I was born. I could feel the resistance in leaving his finger and then I saw myself transitioning into an adult but what remained constant was that resistance to leaving his finger and then came the time when I had to leave his finger. I visualised a state of helplessness, tears bursting and rolling down my cheeks. I couldn’t stop them even after the yoga Nidra session was over I was still in tears, but somewhere deep inside I felt relieved.

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