Lying in bed or on a mat on the floor, yoga nidra is a state of total relaxation practiced in full consciousness. The effects are really powerful, allow you to let go and sleep better.
We are constantly stimulated in our daily lives. Our bodies and minds need to take breaks to reduce the stress of our fast-paced lives. Having trouble sleeping or relaxing are small ailments that can be alleviated through yoga nidra.
What Is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra plunges the mind into a semi-awakening state and induces absolute relaxation.
It is an effective way to learn to relax, to know oneself, to learn to reconcile with oneself, to take care of your own needs, all this in order to go towards better well-being.
This practice has its origins in Tantrism, a current of Hinduism that seeks to reach the state of absolute consciousness. It was developed in India in the 1950s by the yogi Swami Satyananda Saraswati, then spread to Europe in the late 1960s.
In Sanskrit, "nidra" means "sleep", but not just any sleep: a lucid and meditative sleep that relaxes the body but above all awakens the mind.
Yoga Nidra allows one to consciously approach sleep while remaining awake. During the practice, the mind sinks little by little into a state between wakefulness and sleep conducive to letting go, to meditation, which ultimately improves the quality of sleep and many other disorders.
How Does a Session Work?
A classical yoga nidra session starts with some gentle postures to prepare the body for relaxation.
We then move to a lying position on a yoga mat on the floor.
Yoga Nidra is not practiced alone. With eyes closed, the student is guided by his/her teacher’s voice, who proposes to him to express mentally his Sankalpa: a personal resolution in the form of an affirmative sentence.
It is important to know that Yoga Nidra allows to explore one's unconscious mind in a conscious way, kind of like hypnosis. It is more a contemplation of the mind than simple relaxation. By having access to one's unconscious, one can actively work on one's aspirations, define one's intentions.
In a third step, we carry out a rotation of consciousness: the teacher mentions each part of the body so that the student becomes progressively aware of it, and so that he/she is concentrated on his/her sensations.
We then work on the opposites, such as hot and cold, heavy and light.
Then, we are led to focus our attention on the movement of our breathing, counting our inhalations and exhalations.
To finish, the teacher will suggest a series of visualizations with strong and simple connotations, such as a sunset, a Buddha statue, etc. before waking up gently.
It is of course also possible to practice yoga nidra alone in bed by following a guided meditation in the headphones.
By the way, I have also written an article dedicated to bed meditation, if you are interested in the topic.
What Are the Effects of Yoga Nidra?
This very complete approach (from which sophrology was inspired) allows us to experience moments of great tranquility, joy, and well-being.
One session of Yoga Nidra is equivalent to 4 hours of sleep.
After the practice one feels really regenerated, generally fresher, available, radiant, more positive, and dynamic!
The Benefits of Regular Practice Are Numerous:
Better and deeper sleep, easier to fall asleep
feeling of relaxation
better creativity and sharpened intuition: a session generates alpha and theta waves in us, allowing us to access dreams and connect to ourselves
fights against anxiety, depression, burn-out
helps to better manage stress and emotions
regenerates the physical body and the mind
strengthens the immune system
helps to free oneself from deep-rooted feelings or wounds
also helps to fight hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
By practicing this relaxation, we discover that sleep can also be the occasion for a resolutely tasty yoga, which changes not only our sleep, but also every moment of our days.
When to Practice Yoga Nidra?
This technique is usually practiced after a Hatha Yoga session.
But practicing in the middle of the day, or at the end of the afternoon, will allow you to regenerate physically and mentally. This way, you can avoid a late afternoon slump!
Who Can Practice Yoga Nidra?
It is a simple practice, within the reach of everyone: children, teenagers, adults, men and women, seniors, athletes ... very effective for people with sleep disorders or suffering from stress. Yoga Nidra will do the most good to hypersensitive people for example.