Yoga Nidra is one of the coolest ways to relax your body whilst you’re still awake, (that is if you can stay awake!).
This Yoga Nidra for Sleep article will give you everything you need to understand the principles of the practice and to prepare you for the experience. We will cover:
- What is Yoga Nidra?
- Why is it good for sleep?
- What is the difference between meditation and Yoga Nidra?
- The 6 steps of a Yoga Nidra for sleep.
- And the benefits of Yoga Nidra for sleep.
When I studied to become a yoga teacher, Yoga Nidra became my preferred meditation technique. It sent me into the deepest relaxation and at the end of it, I always felt energized and refreshed.
As a yoga teacher, I have always loved giving Yoga Nidra classes to my students, allowing them to reach that same state of relaxed peacefulness.
What is Yoga Nidra?
The Yoga Nidra Meditation is both a meditative technique and a meditative state.
It is a session that is always guided by a teacher and it takes you into a very specific journey aimed to give you the deepest state of relaxation while being fully awake.
The technique is practical and easily accessible, It offers a peaceful practice while creating deep relaxation for health, mental peace, and higher awareness. Thus making it an excellent Yoga Nidra for sleep.
The Yoga Nidra has its roots in ancient India but was developed for modern practice by Swami Satyananda, the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga in northern India.
The Hindi translation of Yoga Nidra is “yogic sleep”, which refers to the deep state of relaxation while being fully awake.
It is an effortless form of meditation that is accessible to all partly because it is done laying down in Savasana and partly because you don’t need to do anything but listen to the guidance from a teacher.
You are guided through the layers of consciousness into a dream-like state, but at the same time fully conscious.
The structure of a Yoga Nidra
The structure of a Yoga Nidra for sleep is a series of sections (layers) each with various intentions to guide you into a deep state of awakened relaxation and the state of Alpha or Theta brain waves.
There are three key facets of Yoga Nidra: Meditation, Relaxation, and Intention
The meditation calms the mind, the relaxation causes the body to release tension, and the intention (Sankalpa) can help to change unhealthy or unproductive patterns and can be a tool to keep you on track in your daily life when you are physically or emotionally challenged.
Why is Yoga Nidra good for sleep?
In the modern world, many people deal with sleeping disorders due to stress-related issues. Having a mind that keeps running when you want to go to bed and have a good night’s sleep can be very disturbing and affect your nervous system.
It can become a vicious circle. The more you want it to go away, the more it prevails and it can end up as a huge disturbance to your wellbeing and health.
The Yoga Nidra for sleep offers excellent support for a peaceful mind – that’s why the technique has become so popular in these modern times, even though it’s an ancient practice.
A scientific study done at the University of Minnesota shows that the practitioner of a Yoga Nidra demonstrates all the symptoms of a deep non-Rem sleep, including the deepest delta brain waves, all whilst simultaneously remaining fully awake and conscious.
It is like resting at the edge of sleep without falling asleep.
Continued practice of Yoga Nidra has been known to improve your nightly sleep routines, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep, enjoying a full night of deep rest.
What is the difference between meditation and Yoga Nidra for sleep?
Meditation and Yoga Nidra are two very distinct techniques of calming the mind and of self-awareness.
Yoga Nidra is delivered in the opposite way to meditation.
While traditional meditation puts all awareness on a single focus, Yoga Nidra guides you through entire layers of your consciousness and of your Self.
These are the 3 main differences between Yoga Nidra for sleep and meditation:
1. Yoga Nidra is practiced laying down.
Traditionally meditation is done in a seated position, in Yoga Nidra, you lay down in Savasana so that you are able to relax fully during the entire practice.
2. It is a fully guided practice.
Much of the meditation practice is self-guided. For the full length of Yoga Nidra practice, you are guided by the voice, either of your teacher during a class, or by a recorded session in your own home.
3. It is an exploration of the layers of self.
While traditional meditation requires a withdrawal of the senses and all your awareness on a single focus, Yoga Nidra guides you through entire layers to reach full relaxation and self-awareness.
More benefits of Yoga Nidra for sleep
There are several positive benefits of practicing a Yoga Nidra for sleep.
Some people find it difficult to sit up straight in meditation for an extended period of time, therefore practicing Yoga Nidra laying down makes it effortless and accessible to all.
Besides improving your sleep other benefits are:
- An increase in energy levels.
- Improved creativity.
- A more flexible nervous system.
- Relief of emotional tension.
- A detoxified body.
- A clearer subconscious.
Ultimately, the benefits of Yoga Nidra are extensive. It has been found to improve long-term sleep patterns, enhance physical and mental health, and boost overall resiliency and emotional balance.
All the reasons to bring it into your weekly practice, or maybe even daily if you feel an acute need for restitution and sleep.
Yoga Nidra for sleep Step-by-Step Guide
You will be guided through all 6 layers by your teacher, live in a class, or through a recording. Your job is to relax and listen to the guidance.
#1 Layer: The relaxation of the body
Yoga Nidra for sleep starts with you lying down comfortably on your mat. It is important to make the appropriate adjustments to allow your body to be still for the full length of the session.
You are instructed to stay awake, but dozing in and out of consciousness is normal. Even though your body is almost asleep, your brain is awake during Yoga Nidra for sleep.
#2 Layer: The intention.
After the relaxation of the body, the next step is to set a positive intention for the session, known as a Sankalpa. A Sankalpa is a short phrase or sentence, clearly and concisely expressed. It is meant to bring about a positive change in your life.
A Sankalpa could be something your wish for to happen in your life, or something that you want to let go of to be able to have more freedom, or it can be a question about you living your life.
#3 Layer: Body scan
In this step, you will be engaged in paying attention to specific parts of your body. The teacher will point to a specific part and your job is to follow the mentioned parts of your body with your focused attention.
This moving your awareness has a specific physiological meaning and purpose. It stimulates the brain and relaxes the mind and draws your attention within.
#4 Layer: The Opposites
The next layer is the mental experience of opposites, such as lightness and heaviness, hot and cold.
This helps the conscious mind determine what your body feels, instead of always just responding to, and relying on, sensations from the outside world.
#5 Layer: The Visualization
The purpose of this layer is to bring up what is stored in the subconscious mind. It is guided imagery, using symbols as symbols are understood as the language of the subconscious.
It can balance the mind and help bring hidden thoughts and emotions to the surface.
#6 Layer: Repetition of the Sankalpa
Finally, you will be guided to end the session with a repetition of the Sankalpa formulated at the beginning of the session.
In this way, you are ending the Yoga Nidra for sleep with a positive resolution. The reason is that at this point your mind is very receptive to suggestions and positive thoughts.
Your subconscious is very open and this openness will strengthen the resolution.
Then it is time to end the Yoga Nidra and you will be guided back to an awakened state of mind. It is important to take your time to come slowly out and spend a few moments integrating the session by taking some deep breaths and stretching your body.
5 Facts About Yoga Nidra
|1. A full Yoga Nidra lasts approximately 35-40 minutes.|
|2. Yoga Nidra begins and ends with a positive intention.|
|3. Yoga Nidra is practiced laying down in Savasana.|
|4. Yoga Nidra is guided by a teacher.|
|5. Yoga Nidra offers a deep yogic sleep while being fully awake.|
Are you keen to try a Yoga Nidra for sleep?
Try practicing Yoga Nidra for sleep to experience nights of deep, restful sleep.
Book a class at your local studio or tune in to the following video by Chalotte Fruergaard; spiritual mentor, meditation and yoga teacher, and author of this article!