Yoga Nidra for meditation is unique in its approach. It combines guided mental imagery with a specific yoga posture known as Shavasana, or “corpse pose.” Unlike sleep, Yoga Nidra promotes a profound state of relaxation while maintaining awareness of one’s surroundings. Yoga Nidra for meditation works by tapping into your autonomic nervous system, which is the system in charge of what your body does automatically, like maintaining your heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature, digestion, and metabolism. In this blog post, we will examine yoga Nidra and its benefits, watch a video and explore the research findings surrounding this ancient practice.

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra for mediation  is an ancient yogic practice that is becoming increasingly popular as a form of meditation and mind-body therapy for mental health

Yoga Nidra is an ancient yogic practice that is becoming increasingly popular as a form of meditation and mind-body therapy for mental health. It is a systematic form of guided relaxation typically practised for 35 to 40 minutes. This practice aims to promote a profound state of relaxation, which differs from sleep since one is still aware of one’s surroundings.

While several components of the practice have been known since ancient times, Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s writings in the 1960s introduced a modern and systematised practice system to the public. Unlike other schools of yoga, which emphasise concentration or contemplation, yoga Nidra’s goal is complete relaxation. Yoga Nidra Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s Writings text explains the theory of Yoga Nidra in both yogic and scientific terms and includes class transcriptions of the practice. It allows for a versatile technique, which has been used for deep relaxation, stress management and therapy, to enhance the learning process in education, to harmonise the deeper unconscious and awaken inner potential, and as a meditative technique, with 1,305 ratings and a 4.7-star rating on Amazon.

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Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s ‘Yoga Nidra’ is a transformative gem that introduces readers to the art of conscious relaxation. This book not only demystifies the practice but also delves deep into its profound benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. The author’s clear instructions and insightful explanations make the practice of Yoga Nidra accessible to both beginners and experienced practitioners. I found the step-by-step guidance and various techniques to be incredibly helpful in achieving a state of deep relaxation and heightened awareness. Whether you’re seeking stress relief, better sleep, or a path to self-discovery, this book offers an invaluable resource to unlock the power of conscious rest and inner exploration.

Are you seeking to manage stress, achieve deep relaxation, or enhance your learning process? Discover the transformative practice of Yoga Nidra, a profound technique adapted from traditional tantric practice by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. It is a versatile tool that can profoundly impact various aspects of your life. This technique offers benefits beyond mere relaxation from its roots in yogic and scientific realms. Whether you’re looking to harmonize your unconscious mind, awaken your inner potential, or find a meditative escape, Yoga Nidra provides a structured approach to achieving these goals. You can purchase your copy today and embark on a beautiful journey of Yoga Nidra, paving the way to a balanced and enlightened lifestyle. Click on the link – Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s writings

Individuals claim that Yoga Nidra induces calm inner stillness, is an effective stress management tool, and is a means for greater receptivity to personal resolutions. These resolutions can range from achieving self-transformation to enhancing creativity or improving one’s learning ability.

What’s the Research? Yoga Nidra for Meditation

Yoga Nidra for Mediation - Since the 1960s, the various claims and reported benefits of yoga nidra have been the subject of many scientific studies.

Since the 1960s, the various claims and reported benefits of Yoga Nidra have been the subject of many scientific studies. These have investigated the practice’s effects on numerous neurological, neurocognitive, and psychological disorders, as well as its systemic physical effects. The latter have included pain responses, cardiovascular effects, inflammatory conditions, immune system effects, diabetes, and long-term degenerative diseases.

Clinical studies have shown that yoga nidra meditation is associated with positive physiological changes, including improvements in several haematological variables, red blood cell counts, blood glucose levels, and hormonal status. Two neuroimaging studies have shown that yoga nidra produces changes in endogenous dopamine release and cerebral blood flow, a further confirmation that its effects on the CNS are objectively measurable. The practice has also been shown to reduce psychometrically measured indices of mild depression and anxiety.

What happens to your brain when practising Yoga Nidra?

Studies have found that yoga nidra practice reflects an integrated response by the hypothalamus, resulting in decreased sympathetic (excitation) nervous activity and increased parasympathetic (relaxation) function.

In PET scans, those in Yoga Nidra have been shown to have virtual symmetry in brain functioning, whereas in hypnosis, certain parts of the brain are suppressed or uncoupled to gain access to others. It is very much a meditation that shows similar brain activity.

This ancient practice appears to play a crucial role in the healing and restoration processes in your body during deep sleep. By activating these brainwaves during yoga nidra, your mind and body can rest even while awake. Yoga Nidra also stimulates the pineal gland, enhancing its therapeutic effects. This practice offers a reassuring retreat from the demands of daily life, allowing for deep relaxation and rejuvenation.

What is the best time for Yoga Nidra?

The supposedly best time for Yoga Nidra is Brahma Muhurtha, “the creator’s time”. You can look at it this way: it is when you can create yourself. You become the Brahman in the morning, making yourself the way you want. Usually, a time window begins at 03:40 and ends at 04:28. If it is practical for you to practice, it could give you some advantages.

What are the steps in Yoga Nidra for Meditation?

Yoga Nidra involves five stages of guided meditation: relaxation, intention setting, visualisation, self-awareness, and integration. Each stage helps you deepen your relaxation and connect with your inner consciousness.

Yoga Nidra practice involves a specific set of steps, initially quite deliberate, but becoming more natural and automatic with time and experience. These steps involve preparation for the practice, then the presentation of one’s self of a personal resolution or commitment to later action (Sankalpa). Sankalpa is the Sanskrit word for intention. San means “to become one with”, and Kalpa means “time” and “subconscious mind.” A Sankalpa to set an intention, to connect with your heart’s deepest desire.

Stage 1 Setting your scene:

The Yoga Nidra position is called the Shavasana, or “corpse pose.” This posture, one of the most important in yoga practice, includes turning the palms upward and preventing contact between the body’s limbs. This minimises the sensation of touch and is considered a critical preparatory stage for relaxing the body and inducing quiescence in the mind. It also helps the body breathe deeply and think about your Sankalpa!

Stage 2 – What is an example of a Sankalpa?

The next stage of the yoga Nidra technique is for the practitioner to mentally affirm to themselves a personal resolution or affirmation (Sankalpa). This should be short, clear, and positive (i.e., usually dedicated to some goal of self-realisation or improvement). The goal could be profound or as fundamental as overcoming a personal habit. Under these conditions, the auto-suggested resolution is absorbed more quickly into the unconscious.

Samples of Sankalpa may include –  “I am courageous,” “I have confidence,” or “My life is worthwhile.” A Sankalpa is a quality that helps you become or do something worthwhile with your life. So, how does Yoga Nidra help you make behaviour changes and enable you to develop positive personal qualities?  

You can place the index finger of your right or left hand on the space between your eyebrows and repeat to yourself, “I am….”  “I am a wonderful person”, “I am happy”, “I am good”, “I am living a life of abundance.” Placing your index finger on this spot makes you think consciously of the space behind the forehead. This space is the seat of visualisation that links us with our conscious, subconscious, and superconscious minds. The dark space in front of closed eyes is referred to in yogic terminology as Chidākāsha

What is Chitakasa?

Chidākāsha also means the space of consciousness and the space behind the forehead. This space is the seat of visualisation that links man with the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious and is also the object of meditation. Concentrating on this inner space and observing whatever visions present themselves forms greater awareness and understanding of the present moment.

Stage 3 Rotation of Consciousness in Yoga Nidra for Meditation

In this stage, mental visualisation is shifted among different body locations systematically and organised. The sequencing of this mental awareness proceeds in defined steps: The practitioner starts with the right side of the body, with awareness first being directed at the right-hand thumb and then ending with the little toe of the right foot; awareness is then directed at the left side of the body, and the sequence is repeated, i.e., from the digits of the left hand to the digits of the left foot;

Next, awareness is directed toward the back of the body, progressing from the heels to the back of the head. Finally, the sequence is repeated for the front of the body, from the forehead and individual facial features to the legs. It has been suggested that this overall exercise might effectively establish relevant motor skill learning. This further enhances the value of the process as the student of yoga Nidra advances to the later and deeper stages of practice.

Stage 4 Breath Awareness

In the breath awareness stage, several techniques are employed simultaneously to enable you to focus on the natural breathing process without attempting to induce any changes in its flow. You visualise the breath flowing in and out of the nostrils, the chest, and the abdomen, as well as between the navel and the throat. There are many ways to practice this breathing pattern; some are confusing. However, finding the best breathing pattern that works for you is a must.  Here is a good example – (the double inhale, long exhale  – Andrew Huberman practice). Take a long breath through your nose, followed by a second short breath and then breathe out through your mouth with a long sigh.  Ally Boothroyd can best explain this. You can watch the video below.

Learn to master this breathing technique, which resets the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body’s rest and digestion response when the body is relaxed, resting, or feeding. It undoes the work of sympathetic division after a stressful situation. The parasympathetic nervous system decreases respiration and heart rate and increases digestion.

What is the difference between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic system?

While your sympathetic nervous system controls your body’s “fight or flight” response, when it is not reset to your parasympathetic nervous system, your body will no doubt become stressed and overstimulated, causing many issues and problems within the central nervous system. Your parasympathetic nervous system helps control your body’s response during rest.

Stage 5 Integration of Yoga Nidra

In Yoga Nidra, you learn to integrate the body’s energies to enter a state of calmness and balance, leading to deep rest and healing. By utilising systematic relaxation and focused awareness, the body and mind can settle into a space of well-being and calmness.

In this profound state of relaxation, the individual may experience an increased awareness of the inner self, fostering a deeper connection with their thoughts and emotions. This heightened awareness can lead to significant insights and a better understanding of personal desires and needs.

Integration in Yoga Nidra also promotes the resolution of inner conflicts. Harmoniously aligning the conscious and subconscious layers of the mind achieves a more unified sense of self and authenticity. This alignment reduces stress, alleviates anxiety, and enhances mental clarity and emotional resilience.

As your practice deepens, the boundaries between waking and sleeping states blur, allowing access to a transformative threshold where profound healing and creativity can occur. Regular practice of Yoga Nidra not only cultivates a greater sense of peace and stability but also empowers individuals to bring these qualities into their daily lives, enhancing relationships, productivity, and personal fulfilment.

Ending the Practice Session

Before terminating the Yoga Nidra session, the mental focus is slowly directed toward external sounds, objects, and persons. You become aware of your body and surroundings, turning to your right side but remaining lying for a few more minutes. Each body part is slowly moved, and the body is stretched. Gradually, you sit up and slowly open his eyes whenever he feels comfortable. Don’t forget to Journal your practice and then begin your day.

The magic of Yoga Nidra lies in its simplicity and accessibility. You don’t need any special equipment—just a quiet space and a few moments of your time. Following a guided meditation of Yoga Nidra, you gradually transition from the external world into deep relaxation and heightened awareness. The guide’s voice is your compass, leading you through breathing exercises and gentle visualisations, each step taking you deeper into relaxation.

Yoga Nidra is more than just a relaxation technique; it’s a comprehensive method that enhances our mental, emotional, and physiological health. This practice provides a pathway to profound relaxation and mindfulness that can be integrated into our daily routine, offering benefits anytime and anywhere.

The beauty of Yoga Nidra lies in its adaptability. While practising in the early morning may have advantages, the key is consistency and finding a time that fits seamlessly into your schedule—making the practice a regular part of your life, whether morning or evening, is essential. Unlike the active movements you might find in other types of yoga, yoga nidra invites you to deep relaxation while remaining fully conscious. It’s a technique that nurtures the body and soul, offering a retreat from daily life.

This practice helps us relax and empowers us to handle the stresses of everyday life with greater ease and resilience.  Remember, a peaceful state of mind is just a few deep breaths away, and Yoga Nidra is here to help you achieve the best possible you.

“Kindness begins within; by embracing the calm of Yoga Nidra, we awaken our capacity to extend a gentle hand to ourselves and others.” Molly

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