So you’re not into dripping and holding poses in a hot room? That’s all right. But don’t abandon yoga just yet. Did you guys know there’s a form of yoga where all you have to do is relax on a mat, rug, or even your bed? Are you interested right now? Keep reading.
It is said that this form of yoga is that a 45-minute session will leave you feeling as though you’ve taken a three-hour nap. Read on to learn how yoga Nidra could be the response if you’re looking for an easy, pose-free way to calm down and rebound from life’s stresses.
Yoga Nidra – Leading You To A Stress-free Life
Since yoga operates pragmatically based on our whole being, not just the physical body, it provides such a wide variety of healing benefits. Yoga Nidra, also known as yogic sleep, is a highly effective meditation technique that is also one of the most simple to learn and sustain.
Yoga allows the body and mind to relax deeply. It not only refreshes the mind but also energizes the body.
Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep, is a good way to end your everyday yoga practice. It is a simple relaxation technique that should be used at the end of every yoga pose series.
It helps the body to calm while yoga poses keep it warm. Yoga Nidra requires you to focus your attention on various parts of the body and relieve them.
Yoga Nidra is a type of meditation that can be practiced by anyone. It has enormous benefits for those who find it difficult to let go, as well as those who suffer from insomnia, depression, burnout, and anxiety. It’s also very helpful and has a lot of calming power for everyone who needs to feel more at ease and reconnect with themselves on a deeper level. Yoga Nidra practice brings one into a peaceful, restful state of being.
We can heal, recover and relax from this place. This sublime practice is gaining prominence around the world as more people become aware of its healing properties, and ongoing research continues to demonstrate its efficacy.
How Is Yoga Nidra Different From Yoga Meditation?
Slowing down and relaxing are key components of yoga Nidra. Meditation has the same impact. Although some people conflate the two, they are both two distinct behaviors.
Yoga Nidra is similar to meditation, but it is not the same. There are some similarities, but there are also some significant variations.
In Yoga Nidra, you lie down intending to move into a deep state of conscious concentration sleep, which is a more relaxed state of awareness. It is something between meditation and sleep. This condition entails transitioning from waking consciousness to dreaming, then to not-dreaming while still awake. This practice is directed in the same way as some meditation practices are, but it is much more organized.
It is a method of transferring consciousness from our outer environment to our unconscious mind in a methodical manner.
It induces a deep state of sleep in which our senses, intellect, body, and mind all relax. We are liberated from the constraints of responsibilities and logic. When this occurs, brain activity slows down and the body begins to recover. You remain at a waking level of awareness while focusing on the brain and allowing thoughts to come and go during meditation.
How Did The Concept Of Yoga Nidra Come Into Existence?
Yoga Nidra is a centuries-old Indian meditative tradition. Its origins can be traced back to Sankhya philosophy, which was first written down around 700 BC but has been taught orally since 1000 BC.
Through the non-dualist theory of Advaita Vedanta and the Tantric theories of Kashmir Shaivism, these early teachings were practiced and built upon over millennia.
As previously said, the philosophy that underpins Yoga Nidra is Sankhya philosophy, a dualist philosophy that teaches that the spectator (Purusha) and the being observed (Prakriti), such as feelings, objects, emotions, and other beings, are separate.
The path to happiness, according to Sankhya, was to become conscious of this dualism.
Centuries later, Advaita Vedanta philosophy and Kashmir Shaivism Tantric teachings established this to suggest that the “things” we encounter are not distinct, but rather a projection of our experience, and that we are bound to them.
Non-dualist ideologies allow us to feel this connectedness by examining artifacts in our consciousness.
Yoga Nidra Practice Today
Yoga Nidra is a form of mindfulness practice in which the practitioner’s body is totally relaxed while the instructor guides them verbally. A 30-45 minute session is normal, sometimes also done after a Yoga session. The student is usually taught while lying down and being guided by an instructor. The student will be led through many stages by the instructor.
It all begins with cultivating focus, asking oneself what we want out of life, and setting practice goals. Meditations on the body and breath assist in the development of an inner resource that promotes a sense of well-being.
The instructor then guides the student to concentrate their mind on their breath, body sensations, feelings, and perceptions, all while seeing and accepting what arises without being engrossed in the thoughts and sensations.
It’s a deceptively straightforward procedure. Yoga Nidra is attracting people who are overwhelmed by yoga postures or conventional seated meditation.
In less than 10 minutes, a simplified version of Yoga Nidra can be taught and practiced.
Yoga Nidra can also be used as a simple method of meditation for those looking for a way to relax daily.
The Five Koshas And Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep, is a relaxing activity centered on the five main bodies, or koshas, as described in the yoga doctrines.
The physical, energetic, mental/emotional, higher intellect, and bliss bodies are among the layers, which are also known as sheaths. Each layer emerges one at a time, as defined in yoga Nidra texts, and then adjusts into place, rendering the practitioner undisturbed during the meditation.
The koshas can be thought of in the same way as consecutive numbers: there is a lack of consistency if one of them is neglected or dissatisfied. make it a point to pay attention to each layer and experience so that when you wake up from yoga Nidra, you feel at one with yourself.
The word ‘Pancha means ‘five.’ Maya means curtain, covering, presence, creative force, mystical power, mystery, as well as to comprise or pervade.
‘Kosha’ is extracted from the root ‘kus,’ which implies ‘to enfold.’ It means sheath, shield, subtle body, wealth, lexicon.
The kosha’s “maya” is felt as both surreal and as an expression of universal unity.
The term “Maya kosha” refers to the layers of enclosing sheaths that surround and protect our True Self.
Coming Back To The Point – What Are The Five Koshas?
1. First Layer – Physical Layer:
The physical layer, or annamaya kosha, is the first therefore easiest to recognize. The annamaya kosha, which literally means “food body,” contains all of your organs, joints, ligaments, and connective tissue. This kosha is something you can personally observe. You can see and feel it because it’s your body.
This layer is addressed in a yoga Nidra practice with a physical sensation similar to a physical exam. You could hear things like, “Relax your head, arms, legs, upper torso, back muscles,” and so on. The body is specifically addressed and observed. When approaching the next kosha, our mind and body are relaxed, we activate our subconscious thinking.
2. Second Layer – The Energetic Layer:
The pranamaya kosha, or “energy body,” is the second level. This layer is discernible, but it is far more subtle than the annamaya kosha. Our prana, or energy, passes through inner channels called Nadis and travels on the breath, according to yogic theory.
While prana is often referred to as “breath,” it is not the same thing. It functions in conjunction with the breath, but it is more subtle. You may be requested to simply follow your inhalation and exhalation, or you may be asked to perform a practice such as Nadi shodhana (alternate-nostril breathing) without ever using your fingers.
“Breathe into your right nostril,” for example. Take a breather. Exhale slowly and deeply through your left nostril. The goal is for some of the energy constraints in your body to release as you concentrate on your breath. Then, just like the physical layer, this layer vanishes. Let’s explore the next one.
3. Third Layer – The Emotional Layer:
The next two stages of relaxation, pratyahara, and Dharana, which are directly related to the mind, are included in this level.
The manomaya kosha is one of the most intriguing layers since it is said that our feelings are stored here. When we are overcome by rage or terror, or when we are star-struck. The manomaya kosha reveals both voluntary and involuntary contact with ourselves and others in all circumstances.
We may try avoiding coping with this layer by forcing it down and ignoring it, but when our sentiments rise to the surface (and even beyond), we can reach a point in which we can no longer control our emotional and/or physical reactions. This is why yoga Nidra addresses this layer, allowing us to feel emotions without being controlled by them. In my Psychology degree, one of our Professors always told me that every emotion wants to be felt and for that reason I recommend it.
In Yoga Nidra, this is accomplished by a method known as consciousness rotation. This is basically a body scan in which you switch rapidly from one body part to the next while remaining conscious and detached. This helps to prepare the mind for the next step, which is to concentrate.
4. The Fourth Layer – Intelligence Layer:
The vijnanamaya kosha, also known as the “wisdom body,” is the smarter, more intuitive relative of the manomaya kosha. “Where did that come from?” you may wonder when something suddenly informative comes out of your mouth. Your vijnanamaya kosha is showing itself in this way. Your gut reaction is another example.
The boundary between subject and object starts to transcend at this stage, and duality begins to dissolve. A deeper understanding emerges as a result of the heavy focus.
It’s you who is watching yourself. Isn’t it a little strange? You can imagine yourself wandering through wetlands, witnessing large leaves with pale yellow flowers that become greater and greater until their yellow centers beam light across your entire body, from a heightened place of being where you and I are not different and not distinct. This describes the spiritual aspect of Yoga. And, like the others, this layer disappears completely.
5. The Fifth Layer – The Bliss Layer:
You eventually achieve samadhi as you begin to ascend the ladder towards realization. The anandamaya kosha, also known as the bliss body, is associated with this level. This inherent bliss exists at the heart of any being. It’s both total bliss and utterly indescribable. You are absolutely at one with everything at this point since you have fused with the source. The fusion of the Atman and the Brahman is this.
With just a sliver of distinction between you and what is sacred, this is the slightest tinge of the five koshas. In Yoga Nidra, the student must stay awake for this to happen. This is the real trick because when the brain is in the delta wave state, it is used to resting! It takes a lot of time and effort to train your consciousness in this way. However, as in any yoga practice, it takes time and commitment to see results. With each practice, this will get better.
‘Awareness cures,’ according to yoga. You might realize that you are so much more than your external (your aching head or sickness, for example), your energy (fatigue, for instance), or your emotions and opinions until you realize that you are made up of several layers and that you visit these levels many times per day (regrets and fears for the future, for example).
You can recognize that you have the opportunity to witness all of who you really are, as well as the world surrounding you, with respect. You may come into contact with your everlasting bliss and completeness.
How Does Yoga Nidra Benefit You?
This exercise entails a gradual shift in your consciousness as you scan various parts of your body. You will most definitely feel and foster a sense of physical, psychological, and cognitive relaxation when you do this.
Yoga Nidra relaxes both the mind and the body at the same time, and it aids in clearing the nerve pathways to the brain.
In this section, we are going to elaborate on studies and articles we have found about its benefits. We wanted to make sure that Yoga Nidra is supportive in dealing with mental issues, but it is no substitute for therapy.
Following Are Some Benefits Of Yoga Nidra:
- The body is rejuvenated
The body enters a deep state of relaxation during Yoga Nidra. Regular practice allows the body to enter deeper regeneration and rejuvenation phases. The body functions become limited, the metabolism slows, and the hormonal function increases during this exercise. As a result, the body has the opportunity to start the healing process and remove the toxins from the system.
As a result, the body begins to conserve resources. This procedure relieves exhaustion and revitalizes the mind. You will feel refreshed and energized after the session.
- Stress is lessened
Stress has become an unavoidable part of our lives. Some tension is good for you, and others aren’t. When unhealthy stress isn’t managed, it leads to physical and mental illnesses. Psychosomatic disorders could be the result of these conditions.
Stress puts us in a soothing activity zone, draining our energy and depriving the brain and organs of the resources they need. As a result, our capacity to think is greatly diminished in stressful circumstances, and we feel exhausted and lazy. As a result, we are unable to adequately interpret information and become confused about what is important and what is not. We gradually became aware of our subconscious as we practiced Nidra daily.
Yoga Nidra Has Some Scientific Benefits Too:
- Improves ANS response:
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls many bodily functions, including metabolism, healing, and development. This device operates without the user’s consent. It is not possible to activate or disable it. The sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system are two subsystems of the autonomic nervous system.
Our muscles and heart receive energy and resources from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). It becomes active as a result of physical or mental stress. This subsystem’s primary goal is to assist us in dealing with tension.
The brain and internal organs such as the liver, kidney, and intestines receive energy and resources from the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). It’s turned on when there’s a sense of calm and quiet. This subsystem’s job is to provide the body with the resources it needs to heal, develop, and digest.
However, in most people, the SNS remains active for much longer due to excessive stress and suppressed psychosomatic stress. And when we need to rest and recover, it remains involved. This obstructs the body’s ability to heal and repair itself, resulting in illness.
The parasympathetic nervous system is activated during Yoga Nidra practice. We teach our subconscious mind to let go of tension and remain calm and aware. As a result, Yoga Nidra aids in the rejuvenation of the body. You will boost the overall ANS control and reaction by practicing Yoga Nidra regularly.
Yoga Nidra Might Be Supportive in Curing PTSD
Check out this article from the Washington Post, which talks about the benefits soldiers had after from Yoga Nidra.
Oddly enough, the road to taking yoga Nidra to a broader audience led through the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a military rehab facility located in Washington, D.C. at the time. Christine Goertz, an academic scientist at the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit research organization, teamed up with Robin Carnes, a yoga instructor who had taught yoga Nidra as part of a cardiac treatment program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in 2004.
Miller’s method was used as the foundation for a pilot study by her and Goertz to see if it could support soldiers struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The findings of a small survey performed with active-duty service members indicated that yoga Nidra may be beneficial in the treatment of PTSD in veterans.
According to Mona Bingham, a retired colonel who is studying yoga nidra at Brooke Army Medical Center, tools like yoga nidra can be vital resources for soldiers adapting to life after battle. She claims that “a lot of soldiers are returning [from combat] with physical, psychological, and moral wounds. “It’s not something that can be treated with medication.” She’s researching the impact of iRest on military spouses dealing with the tension that sometimes follows a deployment’s end.
A randomized, controlled trial with 150 participants was conducted at the Veterans Affairs (VA) facility in Miami from 2009 to 2010 as a follow-up. Another research will start this winter at Chicago’s Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center. The army is now providing Miller’s iRest yoga nidra practice to wounded veterans at Walter Reed, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas; Camp Lejeune, a massive Marine Corps base in North Carolina; and VA facilities in Miami, Chicago, and Washington, DC, based on the findings of the pilot report.
Soldiers also confirmed that some of their most alarming PTSD symptoms, such as hyperalertness, distress, and sleep disruptions, have improved as a result of these continuing lessons. Think about what it could do to you because you haven’t seen war.
Yoga Nidra Can Aid in Emotional Healing And Addiction
As you start to relax in Miller’s yoga Nidra class, you’ll be asked to conjure up your own unique Inner Resource, a perception of and feeling about a peaceful and secure environment. You should return to your Inner Resource to take a break if extreme feelings arise during yoga Nidra or at any other time. You could describe it as an inner safe place.
Charles, one of the men at Henry Ohlhoff North, is a frequent user of the technique. He was a former head chef who retired due to chronic back pain caused by a back injury. He became addicted to drugs and painkillers, and after three drug convictions, he decided to go to rehab rather than prison. Yoga Nidra has helped him reconnect with a part of himself that was previously untouched by addiction and chronic pain.
A friend delighted Charles with a birthday celebration that included alcohol when he was given his first weekend pass two months into his six-month recovery stay. Charles became agitated. He says, “I went out to my vehicle, put my head back on the headboard, and drove into [the practice].” “My breathing slowed down, and I was able to concentrate better.”
Leslie Temme, a researcher in Western Carolina University’s social work department, showed that respondents who practiced yoga Nidra had less depressive moods and a lower risk of relapsing into drug addiction in a study of 93 people at a chemical dependency recovery center. Yoga Nidra seems to help recovering addicts feel more at ease in their own bodies, deal better with stressful feelings, and make better decisions due to its focus on self-awareness.
Yoga Nidra May Lead To Positive Mental Health
Ferreira-Vorkapic and coworkers enlisted healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either practice Yoga Nidra meditation once a week for 45 minutes for 3 months or to a wait-list control group. Anxiety, depressive symptoms, fear, and psychological distress were all measured pre and post-training.
They discovered that participants who practiced either Yoga Nidra or meditation had substantial drops in anxiety, depressive symptoms, fear, and perceived stress when compared to baseline and the wait-list control group. On any of the psychological health measures, there were no substantial differences between the contemplative techniques.
To read the full study check out this research paper
Yoga Nidra Could Help With PMS (Premenstrual syndrome) And PMS Depression
Women’s issues are generally overlooked in our society, particularly gynecological issues such as menstrual disorders such as excessive or scanty flow. Menstruation dysfunction is a common issue among women in their reproductive years. Amenorrhea (9%) and menstrual imperfection (33%) are common among incarcerated women; psychological factors, stress, and impoverishment have all been linked to menstrual irregularities.
The data indicated that learning and using a Yogic intervention program for patients with monthly irregularities who had psychological difficulties reduced their wellbeing, fear, and anxiety significantly.
Yoga Nidra For Adolescents
In the twenty-first century, adolescent well-being is a top priority for healthcare initiatives. A quantitative study was conducted on adolescent students aged 13 to 15, with the goal of determining the impact of Yoga-Nidra on several aspects of well-being.
Thirty-six pupils were given 30-minute Yoga-Nidra sessions three times a week for a month.
Satisfaction, psychological distress, overall quality of life, and emotional general well-being were the primary end measures. Before and after the intervention, these and other experiential characteristics of well-being, such as enthusiasm, attentiveness, quietude, clarity of mind, control over anger, self-confidence, and self-awareness, were assessed.
Yoga Nidra Can Be Supportive In Diminishing Anxiety
The purpose of this study is to see how Yoga Nidra affects stress and anxiety in college students. The research was carried out at Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya’s Yoga clinic. The practice time was 30 minutes, and it lasted 6 months.
The results revealed a considerable difference in the practice group, with Yoga Nidra significantly lowering the stress levels of both male and female participants. Several more studies show that Yoga Nidra has a considerable impact on both male and female subjects’ anxiety levels.
Yoga Nidra Could Increase Mental Health Of Professors And Teachers
In this article, sixty college professors, both men, and women, ranging in age from 30 to 55, were assigned to one of three experimental and control groups: Yoga Nidra, sitting meditation, or the comparison group.
Professors were evaluated twice over the course of the three-month study. Both yoga Nidra therapies appear to be a successful therapeutic technique for lowering anxiety and stress levels, according to pre-post outcomes.
However, there was a trend towards the Yoga Nidra intervention being more helpful for anxiety, suggesting that it could be a useful strategy for lowering both cognitive and physiological symptoms of worry.
Yoga Nidra Might Help To Control Sugar
Diabetes is a metabolic illness that has become a major public health issue around the world. The participants in this study were 41 type-2 diabetic patients in their forties who were taking oral hypoglycemics.
These participants were divided into two groups: (a) oral hypoglycemic plus yoga-Nidra (20 patients) and (b) oral hypoglycemic alone (21 patients). Yoga-Nidra was practiced for 30 minutes every day for 90 days, with parameters being recorded on the 30th day.
Subjects on a Yoga-Nidra with medication regimen had better control of their fluctuating blood glucose and diabetic symptoms than those on oral hypoglycemics alone, according to the findings of this study.
What Yoga Nidra Is Not?
- It isn’t just a form of relaxation: The word “Yoga Nidra” has become widely used to refer to any type of stress relief. Yoga Nidra is not just a relaxation form, even though it offers deep relaxation. Yoga Nidra is an altered state of consciousness. It’s a dreamless, deep sleep that you’re aware of.
- It’s not just visualization: Even though directed visualization is often used in the practice of Yoga Nidra, the aim is to transfer focus from the external to the internal environment. Guided visualizations primarily aid in the activation and perception of our senses, as well as the movement of awareness externally.
- It’s not just proclamations or autosuggestions: Although affirmations and autosuggestions may be used in Yoga Nidra to positively influence the conscious mind, it’s far more than that.
- It’s not just reverie: It is the fun state of being lost in dreamy thoughts. Yoga Nidra may have a similar impact at first, but it is intended to take the mind into a much deeper domain.
- It’s not just a dreaming state: At first, it’s possible to have a lot of complex dreams when practicing. Yoga Nidra, on the other hand, isn’t a lucid dreaming state. The senses and the cognitive processes are still completely present when dreaming. The thought patterns of Yoga Nidra come to a halt, our senses relax, and the mind remains clear and calm.
How To Practice Yoga Nidra What Are The Steps?
You cannot practice yoga Nidra by reading the steps, maybe you can but it won’t be as effective as conventional yoga Nidra guided practice. Follow a guided voice, use resources such as youtube if you cannot go to a yoga studio during these tough pandemic times. Checkout Yoga Nidra guided Meditation on YouTube
What To Remember Before Practicing Yoga Nidra:
Yoga Nidra is about ‘conscious relaxation,’ not ‘conscious effort.’
You don’t have to ‘concentrate’ or ‘focus’ on a leg or even touch your nose. You also don’t have to constantly move these body pieces. All you have to do now is focus your mind on them while breathing deeply. The key to Yoga Nidra is to relax with mindfulness, stay effortless, and relax the body and brain consciously.
During Yoga Nidra, it’s normal to be distracted by random thoughts. Do not attempt to restrain them. If you fall asleep on your own, don’t feel bad about it when you wake up. As a result, Yoga Nidra is a relaxing and enjoyable way to finish your yoga practice. Allow yourself to let go, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Many of us find it difficult to slow it down, rest, log off, and rest in an ever-expanding thrilling environment of endless knowledge and events at our fingertips.
The changing of awareness via your body is the distinction between Yoga Nidra and Meditation. It is usually not done in meditation, especially in guided meditation.
Yoga Nidra combines the benefits of relaxing profoundly while still engaging in contemplative inquiry. The act of lying on the floor for meditation purposes feels nurturing and refreshing. It can even sound like you’re cheating on the power of asanas.! Don’t underestimate the strength of letting go.
A new way of emerging from the emphasis on welcoming and listening. We experience a profound sense of authenticity; we learn to fully trust ourselves, and as we grow to be good friends to ourselves, we improve our ability to listen to others.
We eventually begin to ‘fall in love with ourselves again,’ as Derek Walcott puts it in his poem ‘Love After Love.’ This is a soothing, kind, and beautiful exercise.
Dr. Rai and Sumeet