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6 Benefits of Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep)

Yoga Nidra

Could you use more energy, focus, and durable happiness, all coupled with a satisfying, meaningful life? Yoga Nidra may be exactly what you're looking for.

Yoga nidra is "yogic sleep." It is a profoundly healing and empowering meditation that starts with deeply restorative rest and relaxation. Done lying down or in a comfortable chair, it involves practicing six levels of relaxed awareness for a joyful meditative experience and discovery of one's true Self. The goal is for the bodymind to be asleep while remaining alert and aware. Based on yoga teachings and backed by modern science, it uncovers intuitive awareness, puts you in touch with feelings of unconditional peace and joy, and reveals your true nature. Yoga nidra is as uplifting as it is comforting and inspirational. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, you will be able to recharge your batteries, manage tension, and maximize your energy and health. It's gratifying and exhilarating.

What's wonderful is that yoga nidra follows a sequential process that is dependable. It takes you through progressive levels of relaxation. Beta, alpha, theta, and delta brain waves are commonly experienced, but in a condensed way. Stages include physical relaxation for the body, energetic relaxation to harmonize your chakras and improve your energetic lifeforce (prana), and techniques for mental and emotional healing and balancing. As all these bodymind dimensions come to ease, mental clarity, intuition, and profound peace and joy naturally happen. It's blissful. (Read my blog post, Enjoy 6 Levels of Relaxation for Energy Enrichment with Yoga Nidra," for details.)

Yoga Nidra always adapts to your personal needs, helping you where it is most needed. This means that benefits can range from helping regulate blood pressure to minimizing physical or emotional pain. Here are some evidence-based benefits of practicing yoga nidra as described and documented in my book, Yoga Nidra Meditations: 24 Scripts for True Relaxation.

  1. Yoga Nidra is easy, accessible, and effortless. No yoga or meditation experience is needed. No equipment is needed, except for a place to lay down or an easy chair. You simply cannot go wrong when practicing Yoga Nidra. All that is needed is to listen, participate, and stay alert. Going through the process takes 15 – 30 minutes, on average. With practice, the Yoga Nidra experience itself can happen very quickly. Whatever is experienced is welcomed, explored, and accepted with impartial curiosity. It augments your yoga and meditation practice if you have one.
  2. Stress and tension melt away. Both interfere with your health and well-being in countless ways. Using yoga nidra can improve your health by turning off the stress reaction of fight-flight-freeze and turning on the relaxation response. Among other things, this happens by recalibrating and balancing your nervous system (ANS).
  3. Overall health and well-being improve. Lifeforce energy (prana) that has been tied up by physical tension, worry, or emotional turmoil is freed. This precious energy is no longer wasted. Instead, it is put to good use so it can help improve heart health, glucose regulation, and provide pain relief. The immune system improves its ability to fight germs, viruses, and infection. Inflammation decreases. Cellular rejuvenation and repair occur. The endocrine system, composed of glands and hormones, improves. The relaxation response activates, and the stress response deactivates, thus improving the entire autonomic nervous system (ANS).
  4. Energy is replenished. Restful sleep is effortless. Yoga nidra can help address sleep deprivation and renew your energy. Experiencing all the brain waves associated with sleep during yoga nidra is why an hour of practice is approximate to four hours of typical sleep. Practicing during the day is replenishing. Practicing at bedtime brings on sound sleep by putting physical, mental, and emotional tension to rest so it does not interfere with dozing off or staying asleep. Keep in mind, yoga nidra is not intended to be a substitute for sleep.
  5. Memory, concentration, intuition, and problem-solving ability increase. Self-awareness, intuition, creativity, and the ability to experience witness consciousness is enhanced. The benefits of meditation are gained. The brain's prefrontal cortex is thickened for improving memory, focus, problem-solving, and emotional stability. Beta-amyloid, a sticky plaque between neurons that accumulates daily in the brain, is cleared and its production is stopped during one of the stages of yoga nidra. This toxin is a characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.
  6. Lifepath and Personal Enrichment. It is completely possible to clear out useless habits, bring about durable changes to your lifestyle, and make positive personality changes. The yoga nidra process produces fertile brainwave states that are receptive to making these changes a reality. This is accomplished by using a sankalpa. A sankalpa is a special, self-selected, personal resolve. It is used at the start and the end of the practice and is kept from practice to practice until it takes shape in your life. It is a quality that you choose yourself in support of your highest good, perhaps a quality that helps you become or do something worthwhile with your life. Sample sankalpas are, "I am confident, more and more," or, "I have trust." Likewise, it can reflect your true Self, such as, "My true nature is peaceful." Courage, abundance, patience, or acceptance are other possibilities. Just one sankalpa is needed. Other positive qualities will naturally develop from it. Using kindness as an example, qualities such as compassion, understanding, patience, and helpfulness will naturally increase.

Like most worthwhile things, regular practice yields the best results. Benefits are cumulative. Yoga Nidra Meditations: 24 Scripts for True Relaxation gives you specialized methods to use from the experts. Some scripts in the book include:

  • Calm Frazzled Nerves and Ease Exhaustion, by Rose Kress
  • Lift Depression and Energy, Amy Weintraub
  • Sleep Well, by Julie Lusk
  • Pain Relief, by Stephanie Lopez
  • Health and Healing, by Kamini Desai
  • Plus, nidra meditations for kids, teens, women, men, military members, and more.

In summary, when all the stages are practiced in sequence and regularly, health improves, clear thinking can replace confusion, intuition is developed, and creativity surges. Mood swings and emotional upsets are balanced out with greater emotional understanding and stability. Self-awareness and witness consciousness are enhanced. Best of all, it's a glorious feeling.

About Julie Lusk

Julie Lusk, MEd, E-RYT-500, NCC, has specialized in yoga, relaxation training, guided imagery, and meditation for decades. An international writer, recording artist, and workshop leader, Julie is talented in bringing the ...

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