Science and Health Benefits of Yoga Nidra 

Yoga nidra or Yogic sleep is a meditation technique and a yogic practice in which the practitioner rests in savasana (corpse pose) and traverses through the 5 layers of self (or panchamaya kosha). Yoga nidra gives you a sense of wholeness; and anyone irrespective of their age or gender, can practice this beautiful combination of yoga and meditation.

Yoga nidra lets you reflect on yourself, relieves stress, and eventually leads to self-realization. It can easily be included in your daily routine. So, ‘what is yoga nidra?’ or ‘what happens during yoga nidra?’ if you ask, the answer is that you move into a deep state of conscious sleep, which means you are in a deep state of relaxation while also being aware. It is a powerful yoga and meditation technique since it leads to deep rest and relaxation, in turn reducing stress, calming the nervous system, and promoting overall health.

Science Behind Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra helps awaken the eyebrow centre (or agna chakra), which is believed to govern the pituitary gland function. Proper functioning of the pituitary gland is instrumental in the overall working of the mind and body. Since the practice of yoga nidra has a positive effect on the pituitary gland, it can boost wellness.

Yoga nidra is a powerful means to correct your mental impressions. During yoga nidra, you reach a borderline state between sleep and wakefulness, during which messages reaching you directly affect your subconscious. Thus, yoga nidra can be used to remove negativity, bad behaviour, wrong habits and even disease. This can be accomplished in a visualization stage where you resolve something and then listen to positive messages that can change your attitude and behaviour.

Yoga nidra helps maximize the receptivity of your subconscious mind while also establishing a state of awareness. This way, it has a positive impact on the brain’s ability to absorb information and its capacity to recall stored information. These form the two aspects of memory, which are positively affected by yoga nidra.

Yoga nidra balances the brain hemispheres as it employs the conscious as well the subconscious faculties of the brain. During the practice of yoga nidra, messages are received by the subconscious and reorganized in such a way that the whole mind receives them. So, almost the total brain is a part of the learning experience.

A daily practice of yoga nidra leads to an increased self-awareness, greater autonomic stability, better emotional control and enhanced consciousness.

What is the theory behind yoga nidra? Is yoga nidra scientifically proven? As per research, the practice of yoga nidra leads to decreased sympathetic nervous activity and increased parasympathetic activity, which means reduced excitation and enhanced relaxation. Clinical studies have revealed that yoga nidra practice results in improved blood counts, better regulation of blood sugar levels and proper secretion of hormones.

Stages of Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra consists of eight stages, which include the following:

Stage 1: Settling

At this stage you start withdrawing inwards. All the tension is released and you focus on your breath.

Stage 2: Intention

At this stage, you have to create a short statement or resolution based on what you aim for or what you wish to achieve. This resolution or sankalpa has to be repeated a few times to train the mind.

Stage 3: Rotation of Consciousness

At this stage, your consciousness is rotated through all parts of the body, and all parts that were previously tensed are released, thus leading to the relaxation of the whole body.

Stage 4: Breath and Energy Awareness

During this stage, you draw attention to your breath and your energy centres. Higher energies are awakened at this stage and you go into a state of deeper relaxation.

Stage 5: Sense Perception

Here the two brain hemispheres are activated, and you train yourself to experience opposite emotions without judging or reacting emotionally.

Stage 6: Visualization

Here you are instructed into visualizing positive images, which in turn helps you relax and feel positive.

Stage 7: Sankalpa

During this stage, the resolution created initially, is reinforced, whereby the resolve is internalized and the subconscious mind now has the responsibility of encouraging you towards attaining the set goal.

Stage 8: Externalization

During this stage, you are guided into gradually coming out of the meditative state, where you are gently awakened from the state between sleep and wakefulness which was achieved during yoga nidra.

How to Practice Yoga Nidra

  • Lie down in a comfortable position, so that your spine is straight and your head, neck and shoulders are relaxed.
  • Close your eyes and take some deep breaths.
  • Focus on your breath and let go of all distractions. Release all your stress and tension.
  • Once relaxed, focus on each part of your body, starting from your feet working your way up to the head.
  • Imagine yourself in a peaceful and beautiful place like a beach or garden. Experience the calmness and positive vibe of that place.
  • Gently move your toes and fingers and gradually awaken yourself. Then slowly open your eyes.

Benefits of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra Benefits

  • It provides relief from depression and anxiety.
  • It reduces stress levels.
  • It releases tension from the mind and body.
  • It is a good way to get a sound sleep.
  • Yoga nidra is known to regulate heartbeats, reduce blood pressure, and thus improve heart health.
  • It increases receptivity of the mind, whereby you are more prepared to learn and absorb new things.
  • It increases mental focus and concentration.
  • Since yoga nidra reduces stress and enhances overall well-being, it can help reduce cravings for unhealthy foods.
  • Yoga nidra includes visualization wherein, the practitioner is guided into imagining him/herself in a certain environment. This results in greater appreciation of beauty and enhancement of positive feelings.
  • Practicing yoga nidra daily leads to greater awareness of the self.
  • Yoga nidra allows you to access delta brainwaves, which are instrumental in healing and restoration. The activation of delta waves also lets you rest even while you are awake.
  • As yoga nidra induces deep relaxation and reduces stress and anxiety, it is effective in uplifting the mood and promoting a sense of well-being.

A daily practice of yoga nidra can be a life-changing experience. It helps you realize your life’s goals, it trains the mind to achieve what you intend to, it keeps you relaxed and calm, it enhances positive feelings and by having a positive effect on your heart rate, hormone function, and brain activity, yoga nidra has the power to boost your overall health.

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