Yogic Sleep, Yoga Nidra | Guided Meditation
The Sanskrit word Yoga Nidra translates to Yogic Sleep. Yoga is not only about the postures, but we also can learn the art of sleeping from the Yogis. It is the deep state of relaxation between sleep and awake state. Several Yogis claim that an hour of yogic sleep equals four hours of regular night sleep. But let’s not get confused and try skipping sleep for Yoga Nidra. It can be incorporated into a daily routine to reduce stress and attain a calmer state of mind.
No, Yoga Nidra is not a nap. It’s a form of meditation. The mention of Yoga Nidra dates back to Upanishads and Mahabharata. This Yogic Sleep is also associated with Lord Krishna.
It is an ancient meditation technique. Sleep is the state wherein one is at complete rest and no awareness but Yogic Sleep is the state wherein there is both rest and awareness. Hence, it aids for complete relaxation of mind and body.
For thousands of years, it has been used to unfold impressions from unconscious inner layers.
Table of Contents
The Process of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is practised in Corpse Pose (Savasana.) It is even better if we lie down symmetrically. Also, Yogic Sleep can lower down the body temperature. Hence, it is an elite choice to put a blanket or shawl along. The entire session of Yoga Nidra is practised in the same position so we need to make sure that we are in a comfortable position. It is necessary to close the eyes. A session of Yogic Sleep is as small as 20 min and as big as 1 hour.
Yoga Nidra is normally practised under the guidance of Yoga teacher or tape recordings. But we can also do it on our own.
Getting ready for Yoga Nidra: Yoga Nidra is done on an empty or light stomach. As it involves long deep breaths, it is not recommended to do it immediately after meals.
Step by Step Guide
- Get ready in Shavashana by Lying down straight on the back. Close the eyes and start taking gentle and long breaths. Practice normal breaths and not Ujyai breaths.
- The practice starts by taking gentle attention to the right foot. Keeping attention there for good five to ten seconds and feeling sensations around the right foot, we gently move attention up to the right knee, right thighs, and the hip. After that, we relax, repose and become aware of the whole right leg.
- Repeat the same process for the left leg. Also, if there is any kind of pain or a strong feeling, we gently surrender.
- Slowly and gradually, we take attention to every part of the body: genital area, stomach, navel region, chest.
- Now, turn for hands. Take attention to the right shoulder and right arm, palms and fingers, and repeat the same for the left hand.
- Take attention to the throat, back of the neck, face, and top of the head.
- With deep inhalations and exhalations, we feel sensations around the body and relax for a few more minutes.
- Being aware of the body and surrounding, it’s time to open the eyes.
Benefits of Yogic Sleep
Treats chronic insomnia
The lack of sleep invites a whole lot of problems like stresses, burnout, depression, and a weak immune system. A night of good night sleep is a must for a healthy and happy life. A case report on Yoga Nidra revealed that it can be used as an important adjunct in the management of chronic insomnia patients. It prepares our body and mind for relaxation and hence induces the deeper state of sleep.
Calms the nervous system
The simple guided meditation of Yoga Nidra relaxes the nervous system. It balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and then regulates the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
It is really simple
Yogic sleep is the simplest form of meditation or yoga whatever we may call it. It does not require proper yoga costumes and comparatively larger space. All we need is a comfortable sleeping position and then listen to the guided instructions. And there’s nothing like doing it the right way or wrong way. While the most form of meditations can be task-oriented and specific, Yogic sleep is all about deep breaths and attention along with the body parts. Even if we feel asleep in between the session, it’s perfectly okay. Because it’s believed that our subconscious can still benefit even if we get into sleep.
Releases tension and pain
Yoga Nidra works excellently for someone suffering from pain like back pain, even if it is chronic. What is pain actually? It’s the unpleasant vibrations in our body. With regular practice of Yoga Nidra, we become aware of the sensations happening in the body and as we become more aware of the tensions, the pains are easily released.
Aids as an instant Energy Booster
Whenever we feel sleepy or low, it is a good idea to swap afternoon nap with a Yogic Sleep. It immediately takes away the laziness and brings up much-needed alertness and activeness. It might even replace the afternoon coffees.
Assimilate the Effects of the Yoga Postures
It is also a good practise to lie down for 5 to 10 min Yoga Nidra session after performing asanas. The body and mind need the time to assimilate the effects of asanas. Also, during Yoga our body temperature increases. Thus, it helps to cool down the body and restores to the normal temperature.
Activates Chakras in Our Body
Though it is not chakra meditation, just look how Yoga Nidra guides us to take attention to each chakra position: starting from genitals to the top of the head. This sequential pattern helps in opening up the chakras in our body and also stimulates the gland associated with each Chakra.
It’s not only about mental health, the benefits are immense. Yoga Nidra also enhances our overall health. A 2013 study found that practising Yoga Nidra reduced anxiety, depression, and general well-being for women experiencing menstrual irregularities and psychological problems.