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

Yoga Nidra for better health
Yogic Sleep

Yoga nidra is a yoga technique that mimics natural sleep.

We all need 6 to 8 hours of sleep every day to keep us fresh and ready for the next day.

If we do not sleep or have insomnia, we experience stress, tiredness, and lethargy.

In such a case,, yoga nidra can play a vital role. It brings in a near-sleep experience, and 10 minutes of this practice is said to be equal to a few hours of sleep.

So, this yogic sleep is good for those who wish to get the benefits of sleep. Besides, it brings harmony and balance to our lives, and one can experience blissful relaxation.

What is Yog Nidra (Yogic Sleep)?

It is a guided sleep process where a person relaxes consciously. He will conciously be in sleep with all of the body and mind at rest without any thoughts.

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

In general,, we tend to watch movies or play games to relax. These are only sensory diversions.

But 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. This is done through yogic sleep.

As per Ashtanga yoga (by Patanjali), one can experience a state called ‘Pratyahara’ where mind and mental awareness are dissociated from sensory channels.

Yoga nidra leads to this higher state of concentration and samadhi (rest).

How to practice yoga nidra?

One should practice yoga nidra under the guidance of others.

On average, yogic sleep lasts for 30 to 40 minutes.

For best results, follow a guided video like the one posted above or seek the help of trained yoga professionals.

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.

In regular sleep, most people go to 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 an experience of total relaxation and blissful happiness.

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

Stages of Yoga Nidra

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

How does Yoga Nidra work?

In yoga nidra, we imagine the body to be at rest and sleeping. This leads to complete relaxation.

During this relaxation, the receptivity of the mind is high, as consciousness is not connected to other senses.

Receptivity is lower when consciousness is connected to all the senses.

This is the secret of Yoga Nidra.

Sankalpa

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 minds. 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.

7 Benefits of Yoga Nidra

1. Yogic Sleep improves concentration

    2. Develops willpower

    3. It helps keep oneself emotionally stable

    4. Heal by reducing stress.

    5. It releases tensions from the body and mind, making you calm.

    6. It helps with insomnia

    7. Improves memory, creativity, increases knowledge and 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, including children older than four and older than adults, can practice it when they are completely exhausted, tired, or stressed out.

    Even special groups like pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and people with anxiety, depression, or any mental illness benefit from it.

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

    But what is normal 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.

    Frequently asked questions and answers

    1. Should one fall asleep during yogic sleep?

    No one should not fall asleep during yoga nidra. Because, with sleep, the communication between the conscious and unconscious is lost.

    2. Does yoga nidra really work?

    It works in that you feel relaxed and relieved of a sleep lag due to a lack of sleep at night.

    Leave a Comment