Have you tried meditation but found it wasn’t for you? Perhaps you struggled to sit still, switch off your mind, and found the whole thing made you feel more agitated, not less?! Well, maybe the yoga nidra benefits I introduce in this article are just what you’ve been missing! I’ll share the top 7 reasons to practice yoga nidra and the scientific research around it.
Not only is yoga nidra effortless to do, but it benefits your body and mind in various ways. From stress relief to improved sleep to treating chronic pain, there are so many magnificent benefits of yoga nidra. What’s more, many of these benefits are backed by science!
If you’ve been struggling to relax, the ancient practice of yoga nidra may offer you a better way to experience deep relaxation.
Interested in incorporating yoga nidra into your self-care practice? Then read on. Be sure to read until the end, as I’ll also detail the eight stages of yogic sleep and share a script you can try yourself.
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7 incredible benefits of yoga nidra & top reasons to practice these breathing techniques
1.Yoga nidra reduces stress
Yoga nidra has an incredibly calming effect on the sympathetic nervous system, shifting you from the ‘fight-or-flight' mode to the relaxation response. This lowers elevated cortisol levels and promotes emotional self-regulation. As a result, we feel more in control of our thoughts and less reactive to the many stressors we encounter in daily life.
2. Yoga nidra lessens anxiety and PTSD
The nervous system's emotional relaxation response also helps reduce anxiety and emotional tension related to post-traumatic stress disorder. There have been clinical trials where people with PTSD have practiced yoga nidra, and the results were impressive – I'll share one later!
3. Yoga nidra improves sleep quality and combats insomnia
Yoga nidra induces a sleep-like state, stimulating the brain waves that occur during deep sleep. This makes nidra an excellent exercise for people experiencing sleep disorders and sleep
If you often have difficulty falling asleep or if you often wake up during the night, you'll surely notice a difference in your sleep quality once you start a regular yoga nidra practice.
4. Yoga nidra treats chronic pain
Because yoga nidra releases bodily stress and tension, many people with chronic pain notice their symptoms lessen after regular yoga nidra practice. As you enter a state of deep relaxation, you can fully relax your physical body, which breaks up energetic blockages, lowers inflammation, and stimulates the immune system.
5. Yoga nidra enhances cognitive function
Yoga nidra trains your brain to accept mental relaxation, which helps to prevent cognitive decline as you age.
The conscious relaxation that yogic sleep promotes creates space in your mind removing all the repetitive thoughts that create that familiar feeling of brain fog. With improved mental clarity, you'll experience greater concentration and memory.
6. Yoga nidra improves self-awareness and presence
Nidra helps to facilitate personal growth by allowing you to gain a deeper awareness of yourself. This occurs through the Sankalpa setting stage, where you reflect and set a specific intention for yourself. It also helps you connect more to the present moment, maintaining awareness of your body and the world around you.
7. Yoga nidra cleanses and balances the chakras
Nidra practice brings you into a theta state, which matches the frequency that the third eye and crown chakras operate on. Yogic sleep can stimulate and align all seven chakras but is particularly beneficial for awakening the upper chakras. Usually, the third eye and crown chakra are the most challenging energy centers to stimulate.
Yoga nidra scientific research
Various clinical studies have proven the benefits of yoga nidra. For example, one study followed a group of participants who did an 11-minute yoga nidra practice every day for 30 days. The results showed significant stress reduction, and the participants reported better sleep, fewer negative thoughts, improved self-esteem, and higher overall well-being.
Another study explored the effect of yoga nidra on people with PTSD over an 8-week program. All participants reported less emotional pain, reduced stress and anger, and increased feelings of relaxation and peace.
One fascinating thing about yoga nidra is the changes in the brain it causes, like taking your brainwaves from beta waves (the active waking state the brain is usually in) to delta and theta brainwaves, which are much calmer and more relaxed states.
Here the body's relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system) is triggered, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure and shifting you into deep rest.
Yoga nidra for beginners
Unlike other styles of yoga, yoga nidra is accessible to everyone, even beginners. Similar to Pranayama, nidra does not require you to move or perform any postures. As all you need to do is lay down, making it a practice that older people and those with physical limitations can also benefit from.
If you're new to yoga nidra, you're likely wondering how often to practice. At first, I recommend practicing yoga nidra once a week and then gradually increasing it to several times a week.
You can even practice yoga nidra daily if you like. In fact, the more you practice, the more you will notice the benefits of yoga nidra in your everyday life.
Yoga nidra steps – the 8 steps in a yoga nidra session
Here's a brief overview of the eight stages of nidra:
Settling into the practice by getting comfortable in savasana and turning your attention inwards.
Setting an intention for your practice. This can be a general quality you want to cultivate or a specific goal in any area of your life.
3. Rotation of consciousness
A guided body scan, moving your awareness from one body part to another.
4. Breath awareness
Counting your breath backward from a number like 15 or 12 to 1.
Visualizing and feeling opposite sensations in your body, like hot and cold and heavy and light.
Envisioning specific images or scenes. This can be shifting quickly from one object to another or visualizing one scenario in great detail.
7. Revisit sankalpa
Returning to your initial intention.
Slowly coming out of the practice by bringing awareness back to your breath, the body, external environment.
Yoga nidra script – a simple script example
Not all yoga nidra practices include all eight stages; only four are essential (internalization, rotation of consciousness, breath awareness, and externalization).
So you will find many shorter yoga nidra scripts only contain these four stages, whereas longer scripts may follow the entire method.
The best way to follow a nidra yoga script is to listen to it like a guided meditation. You will find many great nidra scripts online, including on Youtube and meditation apps like Insight Timer. Some have specific focuses and intentions like boosting confidence, preparing for sleep, or stimulating the chakras.
Ally Boothroyd as a great 30-minute guided yoga nidra on YouTube which is ideal for beginners, as it follows the traditional method detailed above.
Yoga nidra side effects
The only side effect of yoga nidra is that it might make you sleeply. So even though you can practice nidra any time of the day, be mindful that it might make you a little sleepy if you do it before work.
Many people prefer practicing yoga nidra in the evening to reduce stress after a busy day and prepare the body and mind for sleep.The only time you should not do a yoga nidra practice is right after eating, as it is not a good idea to lay down in the corpse pose while digesting.
Also, note that yoga nidra cannot replace sleep. While it may make you feel like you have just woken up from a blissful nap, you still need your usual eight hours of forty winks.
Yoga nidra vs meditation
Nidra is not a meditation but a unique deep relaxation practice. It is often described as a guided meditation. While it is more similar to meditation than yoga asana, it is not the same.
Meditation is a broad practice; there are many different techniques and ways to meditate. Yoga nidra, however, is very structured and follows eight specific steps.
Because of these eight steps, you need at least 15 minutes to complete a yoga nidra practice, whereas you can do a 5-minute or shorter meditation practice.
Another difference between nidra and meditation is that you can only practice yoga nidra lying down. On the contrary, you usually do traditional meditation seated.
Takeaway on yoga nidra benefits
Yoga Nidra is hands down, one of the easiest yoga practices and is more accessible than transitional seated meditation. So give it a go today and experience the many fantastic yoga nidra benefits for yourself!
FAQ about yoga nidra
What is the brain state of yoga nidra?
Yoga nidra takes your brain into an alpha state. This is the brain wave frequency that links conscious thought with the subconscious mind.
Is it OK to fall asleep during yoga nidra?
While many beginners may feel so relaxed in yoga nidra that they fall asleep, you will get the most benefits by staying awake during a yoga nidra session.
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