Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep), Practice, Stages, and Benefits

Yoga Nidra for better health
Yogic Sleep

Today, the way of life has significantly changed, bringing about a dispersion of human energies at all levels.

The mind of man has lost the point of balance and harmony in every sphere of existence.

But we can bring harmony and balance to our lives through Yoga Nidra.

We could be active throughout the day but rarely experience a blissful relaxation.

First, we all know that we need 6 to 8 hours of sleep to make us fresh and ready for the following day’s activity.

But what is Sleep?

As per modern science, sleep is a sedentary state of mind and body. It is characterized by altered consciousness with relatively inhibited sensory activity, reduced muscle activity, and reduced interactions with surroundings.

So, it is a state in which an individual is less reactive to stimuli than wakefulness but more reactive than Coma.

As per Patanjali Yoga, deep sleep is also a mental modification of the mind where there is an absence of awareness or the cessation of bodily experience.

Although we are not aware of anything in a deep sleep, there is still the knowledge of not knowing anything (It’s just like saying yesterday I had a sound sleep).

So, senses remain temporarily suspended.

What is Yog Nidra (Yogic Sleep)?

Yoga Nidra is derived from two Sanskrit words: Yog (union or one-pointed awareness); Nidra means sleep.

Yoga Nidra originates from the Tantras (method) and is a powerful technique in which you learn to relax consciously.

In Yoga, sleep is not regarded as relaxation.

People feel they are relaxing on their couch with coffee, watching TV, reading a book, etc.

But these are only sensory diversions. True relaxation is an experience far beyond all this.

For absolute relaxation, you must be separated from external awareness and sleep.

So, to reach this state of relaxation, it’s essential to turn external awareness into internal awareness.

In the Ashtanga yoga of Patanjali, there is a state called Pratyahara where the mind and mental awareness are dissociated from the sensory channels.

Yoga Nidra is one aspect of Pratyahara that leads to higher states of concentration and samadhi.

How does Yoga Nidra work?

The answer is when relaxation is complete, the receptivity of the mind is more excellent.

The receptivity is less when the consciousness is connected to all the senses.

This is the secret of Yoga Nidra.

There are distinct levels of mind; some are like hard soil, and some are like tender soil.

The conscious mind is like hard soil, with logic and intellect in continuous operation. Intellect analyzes things, so it does not accept things as they are. It rejects as well.

But deeper consciousness is not like that. Whatever impression is planted within the subconscious mind will grow, and the fruits will enrich every aspect of your life.

So, this planting of seed into the subconscious mind is called Sankalpa.

For Example:

  1. You play a Tape but go to sleep and hear nothing. Then, replay the Tape in the morning when you are awake. Listen to that Tape with direct attention. This will create communication between the conscious and unconscious mind. This is how languages are learned. You can learn anything like this.    
  2. If you have certain habits you want to overcome, the suitable seeds or Sankalpa should be sown into the unconscious, and then you must listen to them during consciousness. This is very important for self-transformation.

That is why it is said Not to sleep during Yoga Nidra. Otherwise, the communication between the conscious and unconscious is lost.

Stages of Yoga Nidra

  • Internalization
  • Sankalpa or resolve
  • Rotation of our consciousness on different parts of the body
  • Breath awareness
  • Visualization
  • Externalization

Benefits of Yoga Nidra

Yogic Sleep improves concentration, develops willpower, increases knowledge, and heals oneself (by reducing stress.

It helps keep oneself emotionally stable, releasing tension from the Body and Mind.

It also helps with insomnia, develops memory and creativity, or transforms one’s nature.

By directing the mind, Yoga Nidra can be used to accomplish anything. This is the secret of the extraordinary accomplishments of the great Yogis.

Who can practice Yoga Nidra?

People of all age groups (even children above four years and older adults),

Special groups ( Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers,

People with anxiety and depression or any mental illness

When we are completely exhausted, tired, or stressed out.

How to practice yogic sleep

On average, the typical duration of this sleep lasts 30 to 40 minutes.

Preparatory Practices: Take a hot or cold shower before the practice, Practice Tratak (gazing at the Lamp), and Practice Shirasasana.

Position: It can be practiced by lying down on the mat with feet uncovered

Special Note: Yogic Sleep should be practiced under trained Yoga professionals.

Most People sleep without resolving their tensions,

But in Yoga Nidra, all the burdens are thrown off; it is a blissful, higher-quality practice altogether.

Here, awareness is separate and distinct from thoughts. The waking, dreams and deep sleep pass like clouds, yet awareness of the self (soul or Atma) remains.

This is the experience of total relaxation and experiences blissful happiness.

Regular sleep gives only relaxation, but this bliss relaxes the soul too.

This form of sleep is a Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is the doorway to the state of Equanimity of mind (Samadhi)

                               Thank You for reading.

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