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Yoga Nidra | The healing power of Sleep Yoga

Yoga Nidra | The healing power of Sleep Yoga

By: Joanna-MariaComments: 0

Do you sleep poorly or do you want to improve your sleep quality? Do you want to live more in the now, enjoy the little things, have more peace during the day and find confidence in yourself? Welcome to Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra has become extremely popular lately and for good reason. As the calmest and most gentle form of yoga, it offers a unique way to experience deep relaxation and recovery. Yoga Nidra is good for everyone: even if you usually sleep well, this form of yoga can bring you a lot of good and be a valuable addition to the other yoga style or sport that you may already practice. 

In this blog we take a dive into what Yoga Nidra exactly is, how it works, the benefits, and answer the most frequently asked questions. Whether you are a seasoned yogi or just starting out, Yoga Nidra takes you to the deepest levels of relaxation, and that has special effects.  Let's start!

What is Yoga Nidra? 

What is Yoga Nidra? The literal translation of the word nidra means 'sleep'.  Yoga nidra therefore means sleep yoga, or 'the sleep of the yogi'. 

Yoga Nidra has its origins in the ancient yogic traditions of India. It was systematically developed and popularized in modern times by Swami Satyananda Saraswati in the 1960s, and from there spread to the West.

Yoga Nidra Yoga Class

During a yoga nidra class you lie on your back and are verbally guided to a state between waking and sleeping. A state that you normally only enter during your deep sleep.

Is a yoga nidra class equivalent to four hours of sleep as is often claimed? This is what it feels like when you wake up completely recharged and rested after a yoga nidra session. But a good night's sleep is always indispensable, and you cannot replace it with yoga nidra. Yoga Nidra does help you fall asleep more easily in the evening and sleep better.

So yes, Nidra certainly has to do with (the benefits of) sleep, but the starting point is not just taking a power nap for an hour.

Why is Yoga Nidra so popular?

We live in a time when we have to do a lot, expect a lot from ourselves and others, have many ambitions and the work and social pressure is high. We find it difficult to let go and relax due to the many external stimuli.

Don't you sometimes long for a moment of doing nothing at all? No phone, no pressure to perform, no worries about what it looks like. This is Yoga Nidra:

  • You only have to lie on your back under a blanket
  • You will be guided to maintain your focus
  • And this focus is completely inward

What is the difference between Yoga Nidra and regular sleep? And is Yoga Nidra something like Meditation or Yin Yoga? 

Yoga Nidra differs from regular sleep, meditation and yin yoga in several ways. While normal sleep is an unconscious state of rest, Yoga Nidra is a conscious, deep relaxation technique that keeps you in a borderline between waking and sleeping.

Unlike traditional meditation, which often requires active focus and concentration on an object or breath, Yoga Nidra invites you to consciously relax and take a guided journey through different layers of consciousness. This process helps release deep-rooted tensions and emotional blockages. Although the effects of Nidra have a great overlap with those of sitting meditation, the technique is slightly different.

Yin yoga is also a form of yoga aimed at deep relaxation, but is a physical style in which yoga postures are held for a long time to stretch and strengthen the connective tissue. Yoga Nidra requires no physical effort and focuses entirely on mental and emotional relaxation.

How does Yoga Nidra work? 

With yoga nidra you lie on your back for the duration of the class, preferably under a blanket, and you listen to the teacher who guides you with his or her voice. It resembles a guided meditation where visualization is central, but is even more directly aimed at achieving a deep layer of relaxation.

Through this deep relaxation you enter a state that is comparable to dreamless and deep sleep, while you maintain the connection with your consciousness and your environment. In this state, certain brain waves (theta and delta) are created that ensure that you process memories and experiences. This also ensures:

  • Decrease in muscle tension
  • Reduction of stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower heart rate

As you probably understand, Yoga Nidra is very healthy for both your body and your mind.

Yoga Nidra Meditation

The three main benefits of Yoga Nidra

We have already mentioned many benefits of Yoga Nidra above, but there are more. That is why we have listed the three biggest advantages for you again.

Sleep better

Because you consciously focus on relaxation during this yoga style and process a lot of what is on your mind, you fall asleep faster in the evening and your sleep quality is better. Various Nidra sessions can be followed online, for example via YouTube. You do these sessions in bed, before you go to sleep. From experience we can say that you not only fall asleep faster, but also wake up better rested.

Less stress

During Yoga Nidra you learn to relax, block out all external stimuli and focus on your inner world. Because you consciously do this, it also has a great advantage in your daily life. In stressful situations you are able to return to relaxation more quickly. To absorb moments of stress and not let them influence you too much. And if you are ever super stressed, your experience with Nidra will also give you the tools to calm down again.

More imagination and creativity

Because you are guided by a voice and often a visualization during Yoga Nidra, you open yourself up to imagination. You let yourself be carried away by the voice and provide images to the accompaniment from your own imagination. This will teach you to listen to yourself more, learn more about your own imagination and stimulate your creativity. Moreover, positive affirmations also have a much stronger effect just after a Yoga Nidra session.

Getting started with (online) Yoga Nidra is very easy 

Yoga Nidra is a form of yoga that you can practice very comfortably at home, in your own room. And if you search on YouTube you will find a whole host of free online exercises. If you choose an online Nidra exercise, pay particular attention to whether you like the voice and background music, and the length of the exercise. 

Can you go about your business undisturbed for so long? Fine. Choose what suits your schedule. A 10-minute yoga nidra session can be very effective, while you can also have sessions of 60 minutes or more, where you go even deeper into relaxation. 

It doesn't matter when you do yoga nidra, you can do it at any time of the day. Although some yoga nidra sessions are specially designed for the evening, to make it easier to fall asleep afterwards. 

Below you can find some YouTube channels which offer free Yoga Nidra lessons:

What do you need for Yoga Nidra?

But besides time and YouTube, what else do you need for Yoga Nidra? Actually not that much.

  1. Yoga mat. It is nice to lie on an extra thick yoga mat to support your spine. This often works better than in bed or on the couch, because you often fall asleep faster on a softer surface.
  2. Bolsters or cushions. You can also place a bolster under your knees and a pillow or blanket under your head. This provides optimal support for your body, so you can let go completely.
  3. Blanket. Also think of a lovely yoga blanket that you put over you for warmth and you are already there.

And? Are you going to try yoga nidra? 

Hopefully we have been able to convince you that Yoga Nidra is a very special yoga style that you should definitely try. It is a very powerful and accessible way to deeply relax and improve your well-being. Whether you want to sleep better, reduce stress, or boost your creativity, Yoga Nidra has something to offer for everyone, and you can easily do it at any time of the day.  Try it yourself and discover the healing power of sleep yoga.



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