You are floating in a blissful bubble of deep relaxation, held between consciousness and sleep, you feel your whole body relax and your mind begin to drift towards the dream state. A feeling of ease washes over your entire body and mind.
This is yoga nidra, a practice that elevates and restores you.
Yoga nidra, otherwise known as yogic sleep, is a guided meditative practice that activates the parasympathetic nervous system and allows you to enter a deep healing state. It has immense benefits for anyone suffering from anxiety, depression, or sleep deprivation and can help regulate your stress response. Yoga nidra is the perfect practice for those who find seated meditation uncomfortable, or who have problems with wandering thoughts and a busy mind during a meditation practice.
We live in a world where endless information is at our fingertips, where it’s easy to exist in an endless loop of negative news. Our nervous systems have been assaulted in every which way this year due to the pandemic. I first discovered yoga nidra during a particularly stressful period of my life and I’ve returned to it again and again in 2020 to find balance during this time of great upheaval.
Because of the pandemic, we are collectively living in our Fight or Flight response and this puts great pressure on the body, mind, and spirit. What most of us need is to simply rest.
7 benefits of yoga nidra and how it can help you thrive during these uncertain times
1. Yoga nidra can help decrease stress and anxiety.
Studies have shown the positive impact of yoga nidra on people suffering from anxiety and PTSD. The act of lying down to meditate is exceptionally nourishing and you are more likely to feel safe and access a deep healing state.
2. Yoga nidra can be used as part of your self-care routine.
If you have a busy job, full of deadlines, or children that constantly need your attention; then yoga nidra is the perfect antidote and a time for you to put your own needs first.
3. A regular yoga nidra practice can be used as a reset button for when you are feeling overwhelmed, especially in these unsettling times.
If you’ve found yourself down a social media rabbit hole or have been consuming far too much news than is good for you, it’s wonderful to take a much-needed break from your screen with a relaxing yoga nidra practice. It can help you transition from a stressful morning into a more peaceful and productive afternoon.
4. Yoga nidra can help you catch up on missed sleep.
If you have been up all night plagued by worries, then yoga nidra is a great tool for you. It has been said that 1 hour of yoga nidra is the equivalent to 4 hours sleep. It’s a wonderful way to give your mind and body the rest it needs in a short space of time.
5. Yoga nidra centers and grounds you in the present moment so you can move more mindfully throughout your day.
If your mind is whirring and you find it impossible to switch off your thoughts, then yoga nidra will help you connect to your inner world and feel more grounded in the present moment, something we all need in these times of uncertainty. We can’t control what happens around us, but we can control our reaction to it.
6. A regular yoga nidra practice can help increase your productivity levels.
If you approach your work from a more rested, peaceful place then you are more likely to be able to concentrate, create work of lasting value and meet your deadlines.
7. Yoga nidra can help boost your immune system.
The more rested and calm you feel the less stress you are putting on your body, which means your immune system will be under less strain and can function optimally.
How to practice yoga nidra:
Set aside 30 minutes of your day to dedicate to this beautiful practice. I recommend practicing yoga nidra as a midday refresh, or as an evening relaxation to divide the day between work and leisure time in the evening. Yoga nidra is also the perfect transition into sleep, so you can practice it right before sleeping to ensure a restful night.
You can find many recordings of yoga nidra online, I love to use the Yoga Glo app, which you can try free for 1 week, you can also find yoga nidra practices on YouTube. Find one that suits your time frame and get ready to hit play.
But before you do, I suggest making yourself really comfortable to practice yoga nidra, view this as a self-care practice for yourself. Lie down on a soft surface; a yoga mat, your bed or a comfy rug and making sure you are warm by covering yourself with a cozy blanket and creating a safe haven for your practice. If you have an eye pillow or favorite essential oil, you can also add these to the practice to elevate your feeling of ease.
Yoga nidra traditionally begins by noticing the breath and then completing a body scan of the entire body. By bringing your awareness to each body part you move from living in your head to an embodied state, your breathing deepens, and you shine awareness into each of your body parts in turn. As your body becomes more relaxed you drop into a state suspended between sleep and wakefulness, and here you will rest for the remaining time of your yoga nidra practice.
When it’s time to return to your day you will do so with a refreshed body and mind.
Incorporating yoga nidra into your weekly or daily routine can make the world of difference to your mental wellbeing and you will move through life with a greater sense of calm and inner peace.
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Photo: Alex Blajan via Unsplash