In the search for inner tranquility and spiritual awakening, Yoga Nidra emerges as a beacon of holistic well-being. This blissful practice offers a serene counterpoint to the frenetic pace of modern life, inviting us into a profound state of conscious relaxation.
Unlike traditional seated meditation techniques or physically demanding yoga styles, yoga nidra opens a unique pathway to the inner realms of the mind, body, and spirit. As you’ll discover, its benefits are multifaceted, ranging from stress relief and improved sleep quality to enhanced creativity and emotional healing.
Most significantly, yoga nidra holds the transformative power to elevate us toward higher states of consciousness and spiritual awakening. An adapted form of yoga nidra developed by psychologist Richard Miller called iRest is even endorsed by the American military to help veterans better manage symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
How does yoga nidra work? And what other benefits does it have to offer? Dive into the depths of this enriching practice and explore the myriad reasons why it deserves a spot in your spiritual journey. Keep reading to discover 8 reasons why you should start practicing yoga nidra!
What is Yoga Nidra?
Also known as yogic sleep, yoga nidra is a technique designed to relax the body and mind. Unlike most forms of meditation, this technique is not practiced seated.
While you rest comfortably in savasana, a reclined resting position, this systematic practice takes you on a journey through your body, breath, and mind. Because yoga nidra has specific steps, practitioners usually follow the instructions of a teacher or recording.
As you are guided through the practice, the body and mind progressively release tension. You may feel very relaxed and still. Although practitioners look like they are sleeping, they actually rest between waking and sleep. In this state of deep conscious relaxation, we can heal, restore, and awaken to our true potential.
Like other yogic practices, yoga nidra is originally meant for spiritual purposes, such as raising our consciousness and reaching enlightenment. Nevertheless, it can also be used for therapeutic purposes. Therefore, anybody can benefit from this calming practice!
Still wondering why you should start practicing it? Read below to lay all doubts to rest (pun intended!). And, if you need guidance on how to practice it, nothing better than our post Yoga Nidra: A Step-by-Step Guide to Yogic Sleep for Top Relaxation.
1. Anyone Can Practice Yoga Nidra
Advanced postures and sweaty vinyasa flows are not for everyone. Yoga nidra, on the other hand, is accessible to everybody regardless of age, experience level, and physical abilities. There is no movement involved – your body remains completely still throughout the entire practice.
Thus, all you need is a comfortable, supported position in which you can fully relax. Most practitioners choose to lie on their yoga mat in savasana, with the option of supporting the body with extra pillows, bolsters, and a blanket.
If you can’t lie down on the floor, you can still do yoga nidra seated. You can even practice in bed! All you need to do is follow the voice of the instructor. As your consciousness drifts between waking and sleep, it’s possible that you will remember some parts of the practice and not others.
Every session will be a different experience – sometimes you will be very focused, while other times you will be easily distracted or lost in thoughts. Falling asleep is okay too, though it’s not the primary goal. You will still receive some benefits while the subconscious mind absorbs the practice.
2. Yoga Nidra Releases Stress
Nowadays, many people suffer from chronic stress. Due to financial problems, pressure at work, and relationship struggles, they live in a constant state of “fight or flight”. In this state, the body prepares for action by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, accelerating the heart rate, and increasing muscle tension.
Unlike our ancestors, however, we cannot fight or outrun our problems. Therefore, we never actually release the energy that the body has generated – and the stress is stored in the body. Eventually, it leads to physical symptoms, such as palpitations, diarrhea, and headaches, as well as feelings of anger and frustration.
In the long run, stress is the root cause of countless diseases, including digestive issues, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. However, there is a simple way to counteract the damaging effects of stress – yogic sleep!
During the practice, you enter a state of deep relaxation. Your heart rate slows down, the blood flow returns to the limbs, and circulation improves. In short, yoga nidra activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is also known as the state of “rest and digest”.
This is why yoga nidra is great for people who suffer from chronic stress.
3. Yoga Nidra Improves Sleep
As the name yogic sleep suggests, yoga nidra can greatly improve your sleep. By soothing the nervous system, it can help you fall asleep faster and lead to a better quality of sleep. Recent studies even suggest that yoga nidra may be beneficial in the management of sleep disorders, such as insomnia.
In addition, you can practice it to compensate for lack of sleep after a sleepless night. Although not the same as sleep, the rest experienced during yogic sleep can restore your energy levels. In fact, some yogic texts state that one hour of yoga nidra is equivalent to four hours of sleep!
Looking for a minimal session just before sleeping? Check out 15-Min Yoga Nidra Body Scan on Online Studio, a short guided practice to use any time you need to unplug and relax. You can also integrate other practices into your bedtime routine: read our post about Sleep Yoga to discover them!
4. Yoga Nidra Trains Your Mind
During yogic sleep, the mind is open and highly receptive. This gives you the opportunity to train your mind. For example, you can use this practice as a way to release old tendencies and establish more beneficial habits.
The most powerful tool for training the mind is the Sankalpa, meaning resolve or resolution. This resolve is repeated at the beginning and end of every session, while the mind is open and quiet. It should be stated as a simple phrase, with positive language, and in the present tense.
By repeating your sankalpa time and time again, you plant the seed of intention in the subconscious mind. Eventually, it becomes strong enough to affect positive changes in your daily habits. Yogis firmly believe that your sankalpa is bound to come true in your life.
Learn more about Sankalpas and how to create one in our post Positivity Affirmations To Awaken & Evolve.
5. Yoga Nidra Increases Awareness
While yogic sleep offers many tangible benefits, it is ultimately a spiritual practice. Thus, you can consider it a pathway toward samadhi. This Sanskrit term translates as liberation or enlightenment, and it describes the ultimate state of yoga.
While not everybody who does yoga nidra aims to attain enlightenment, it is important to remember and honor the deeper purpose behind the practice. On a more practical level, regular practice of yoga nidra leads to heightened levels of awareness, paired with less emotional reactivity.
Therefore, you may find that you become less stressed, less reactive, and more peaceful. Situations and people that would have upset you earlier, will no longer have a strong impact on your emotional state.
Imagine staying calm, centered, and even content in traffic jams, while having a difficult conversation with your boss, and during other stressful moments. Yoga nidra can help you get there!
Swami Satyananda emphasizes that yoga nidra “is not only a way of coping with stress; it provides a means of transforming and positively utilizing tension as a stepping stone to greater awareness, efficiency, and achievement in life”.
6. Yoga Nidra Enhances Emotional Healing
One of the less-talked-about yet profound benefits of yoga nidra is its capacity to support emotional healing. In our fast-paced lives, we often suppress our feelings to “stay strong” or to just keep going. Yogic sleep provides a safe space for you to get in touch with your emotional realm.
The practice takes you on a deep inner journey that transcends the mind-body connection, touching the core of your emotional state. When you practice yoga nidra, you’re in a conscious state of relaxation that enables you to experience and accept your emotions fully.
Whether it’s past traumas, anxieties about the future, or any form of emotional pain, yoga nidra helps you go through these emotions rather than around them. By providing a healing ground for your emotional body, it assists in releasing long-held traumas and fears, facilitating a profound inner transformation.
In doing so, the practice supports not only your emotional well-being but also contributes to your overall spiritual growth. It’s like cleansing the emotional dust from the soul, offering clarity and inner peace.
7. Yoga Nidra Elevates Creativity
Creativity is often likened to a well that can run dry during stressful times or when the mind is cluttered. Yoga nidra offers a refreshing respite from this state, creating an environment where your creativity can flourish.
In the profoundly relaxed state induced by yoga nidra, the boundaries of the logical mind are softened, granting easier access to the subconscious. This is the realm where creative ideas often stem from, seemingly out of nowhere.
In a state of complete relaxation, your brain can make new connections and birth ideas that may not arise during the typical, waking state preoccupied with problem-solving or mundane tasks. Whether you’re an artist, a writer, or anyone looking to think outside the box, yoga nidra can serve as a fertile ground for imaginative thoughts and groundbreaking ideas.
Essentially, this practice doesn’t just relax you. It opens up whole new vistas of what’s possible, providing a direct conduit to your innate creativity, a crucial element for both personal and spiritual growth.
8. Yoga Nidra Aids in Self-Discovery and Spiritual Awakening
As we have seen earlier, while yogic sleep can have numerous physical and mental health benefits, its quintessence lies in its potential for self-discovery and spiritual awakening. It serves as an accessible entry point to higher states of consciousness.
In the deeply relaxed state between wakefulness and sleep, practitioners often report experiencing moments of profound insight, a sense of unity, and even fleeting tastes of transcendental consciousness.
Through a dedicated yoga nidra practice, you gradually peel back the layers of your “lower self,” characterized by ego-driven thoughts and actions, thus revealing the “higher self” that is full of wisdom and unbounded by time or space.
By repeatedly encountering this more expansive sense of self, you start to integrate these experiences into your everyday life, catalyzing a transformation that’s aligned with your true essence. This self-revelatory facet of yoga nidra makes it an indispensable tool on the journey toward self-realization.
As we’ve explored, the benefits of yoga nidra extend beyond relaxation or stress relief, although those are significant advantages in their own right. The practice serves as a holistic tool that works on multiple facets of human existence: physical, mental, emotional, and most importantly, spiritual.
Yoga nidra is not just an “add-on” to your existing wellness routine but can be a cornerstone practice for anyone looking to deepen their inner journey towards self-awareness, inner peace, and spiritual awakening.
It’s like a nurturing soil that enriches the roots of your consciousness, enabling you to blossom into a more awakened and peaceful being. Whether you’re aiming to navigate emotional landscapes, release accumulated stress, improve your sleep quality, or embark on a path of spiritual awakening, yoga nidra provides a versatile and accessible method.
It opens up a sacred space within you where transformation isn’t just possible; it’s inevitable. So, why not make this potent practice a regular part of your life? The depths of peace, clarity, and connection you’ll discover could well be transformative.