What is Yoga Nidra- Let us understand by definition
The modern world has led to a lot of advancements & excessive usage of gadgets, technologies, and bots have replaced most of the manual labour. Although this was intended to lessen the burdens, it is causing adverse effects on humans leading to Chronic stress and Anxiety. This is when we can reap the benefits of Yoga Nidra – A powerful ancient technique that has beguiling benefits.
Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice from the Tantras, originating in India. The two words Yoga and Nidra mean ‘Yogic sleep.’ Its roots trace back to Sankhya philosophy dating back to 1000 B.C (source- www.ekhartyoga.com). Swami Satyananda is said to be the pioneer of Yoga Nidra, a powerful relaxation and rejuvenation technique.
It is a lesser-known fact that the practice brings the practitioner to a fine state of consciousness between sleep and wakefulness. Yoga Nidra is entirely different from meditation; meditation puts all our awareness in one point of focus whereas Yoga Nidra guides us through entire layers to reach and attain our true selves.
This is a natural state which we are in before falling asleep at night and the state after we wake up in the morning. The former state is widely termed as the Hypnagogic state as per modern science.
In this state, we get to experience;
- Increase in our creativity flow.
In modern days, our minds are a slave to our senses; the sense of sight, sound, smell, and taste. The practice of Yoga Nidra helps in pulling that focus back into our inner selves and hence it helps in healing multiple ailments including physical, spiritual, and mental blockages.
Yog Nidra Benefits
A Case Study- Does Yoga Nidra play a key role in one’s stress levels:
In a study conducted on 40 university students, 20 were assigned to a Yoga group and 20 students were assigned to a control group. The Yoga group participated in bi-weekly,1-hour sessions of Yoga Nidra for 8 consecutive weeks. Life stress level and self-esteem were tested and the Yoga group students demonstrated significantly decreased Life stress intensity levels compared to the other group. The self-esteem score was measured by Rosenberg’s self-esteem scale.
In conclusion, these findings imply that Yoga Nidra can alleviate Life stress intensity and increase self-esteem. It is also known to increase cultivated body awareness in practitioners.
There are multiple benefits of Yoga Nidra as listed below;
- Treats chronic pain.
- Improved thought patterns.
- Treats Insomnia, Psychosomatic disorders.
- Ensures optimal functioning of the endocrine system.
- Leads to improved and heightened senses.
- Results in increased energy levels.
- Enhances cognitive performance.
To summarise, Yoga Nidra is a yogic practice, moreover, it is both a meditative technique and a meditative state. The literal Hindi translation of the term is ‘Yogic sleep’, the practice aims to keep the practitioners fully awake although they are close to approaching the sleep state. This can be achieved by a certified instructor guiding the practitioner via the prescribed steps of achieving Yoga Nidra.
How to practice Yog Nidra?
You can practice Yoga Nidra under the guidance of a Yoga Teacher or you can practice on your own as well.
To practice Yog Nidra on your own you can take help of the online videos or just follow the instructions mentioned below, these instructions were taught to me by my teacher and I have been using them in my class in every Yog Nidra session:-
1. Choose a quiet place to lie down comfortably on your yoga mat. Take any accessories that can help you lie comfortably like bolsters etc.
2. Lie down with your feet stretched to yoga mat width and keep your hands slightly away from your body with your palms facing up. Let your fingers curl do not try to control your posture. The idea is to lie down in relaxed position.
3. Bring your awareness to your life and health goals, visualize them, imagine as if you have already achieved them and enjoy that feeling.
4. Now think about your reason to practice Yog Nidra. Self care, staying centered, connecting with yourself, whatever the reason is, keep that in your mind.
5. Bring your awareness to the surface you are lying on, feel your body in contact with the surface.
5. Now start observing the sounds coming from your surroundings, observe the different sounds, shift your awareness from one sound to the other sound.
6. Run your awareness through out your body. Take your awareness to the left side of your body, you can start from your left thumb, fingers, palm, wrist, lower arm, shoulder, chest, belly, waist, left thigh, knee, lower leg, foot, toes, sole, heel, calf muscles, hamstrings. lower back, mid back and upper back and then move to the right side and repeat the same sequence.
This process helps you keep your mind from wandering here and there and makes you more aware about yourself.
7. Relax and count your breath from 9 to 0, with every breath relax your mind and your body. If you forget the count, start from 9 again. (some people may fall asleep by the time they reach at this stage, however try to stay awake). Stay in this relaxed state for a while.
8. Now it’s time to come out of Yog Nidra, we come out of it in the same way we went into it, start bringing your awareness back to the surface you are lying on, then take your awareness to the sounds coming from the sources close to you and then to the sources far from you, shift your awareness from one sound to the other.
Bring your awareness back to your body, move your toes, fingers and get a nice stretch (stretch your body from your head to toes).
Roll over to your right or left hand side and relax for a moment. Come to a comfortable sitting position with your eyes closed. Thank the Universe for all the things you are grateful for and observe how you felt.
Share your experience or questions in the comments section below.