After the birth of her child, Aarti suffered from Postpartum Depression. In her case, it was more of insomnia. For 20 days, she did not sleep. Her only savior was Yoga Nidra. She would practice Yoga Nidra 2-3 times a day and these sessions helped her to tide over total lack of sleep. On the 21st day, she went to an Ayurveda doctor who gave her herbal medicines and these medicines along with Yoga Nidra helped her to come out of insomnia and depression.

What is Yoga Nidra?

So what is Yoga Nidra and how did it help Aarti so much?

As the name suggests Yoga Nidra means sleeping yoga or meditation. It is the ultimate form of relaxation for your body, mind, and soul. In Yog Nidra, you can get the relaxation of a deep sleep while being aware at a deeper level of consciousness. During the practice, your thoughts slow down and the brain waves shifts from alpha to theta to delta frequencies and even below. You get in the state of thoughtlessness. In this state the body’s restorative and regenerative functions take over boosting your immune system, promoting healing and slowing aging.  

Yog Nidra finds mention in Yoga Sutra of Sage Patanjali as a part of the fifth limb of Ashtanga  Pratyahara (a stage in which you withdraw your senses inwards; the first 4 stages are Yama or right living, Niyam or discipline, Asanas or physical postures, and Pranayama or control of breath ), a prerequisite for achieving  Dharana (concentration),Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (transcendental consciousness).

Yog Nidra helps you to pierce through deeper layers of your psyche to awaken your consciousness.

Benefits of Yoga Nidra

A regular practice of Yog Nidra can bestow multiple benefits at physical, emotional,  and spiritual levels. Here we discuss top 3 benefits of Yoga Nidra.

Give you complete relaxation

A forty-five minutes practice of Yog Nidra is equivalent to 3 hours of deep sleep. This is not to say that Yog Nidra is a substitute for sleep but its regular practice will ensure that you are deeply refreshed and ready to face the day. Yog Nidra will keep you alert during the day and also increase your memory, cognitive skills, and creativity. Your ability to productively handle stress would increase.  

Students sitting for competitive exams can greatly benefit from Yog Nidra sessions. It would help them not only to remain up for long hours but also to increase their power of concentration and retention.

Improves your health

Yog Nidra helps to bring hormonal balance in the body. Its regular practice positively impacts pituitary, adrenal, and hypothalamus glands.

It can play a vital role in the management of many chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary vascular diseases, asthma, migraine, arthritis, and colitis. Yog Nidra is particularly useful in managing diseases that have strong psychosomatic component. Rehabilitative patients suffering from chronic pain, depression, and lack of motivation also benefit from the regular practice of Yoga Nidra.

Yog Nidra helps to keep inflammation under check. A 2014 meta-analysis of 34 studies showed a remarkable reduction in markers of inflammation in the people practicing yoga and meditation.

Balances the Central Nervous System

The Autonomic Nervous System has two parts -Sympathetic Nervous System and Parasympathetic Nervous System.

The Sympathetic Nervous System comes into action in a stress situation. It activates the fight or flight mechanism of the body. The heart pumps more blood into the limbs to prepare the body to fight while the normal functioning of the body takes a back seat.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System, on the other hand, relaxes the body and support the intestinal and endocrine systems. In the present stressful times, the sympathetic nervous system has taken on a dominant role resulting in many chronic conditions and diseases. 

A regular practice of Yog Nidra shifts the balance of the autonomic nervous system towards parasympathetic nervous system thereby keeping you healthy, relaxed and anxiety free. It also increases your ability to withstand stress. 

How to Practice Yoga Nidra

There are many Yoga Nidra CDs and Youtube Videos. We recommend you pick Swami Satyananda Saraswati Yoga Nidra methods. His Yog Nidra practices are very powerful and work at the subtle level of consciousness. Some of the Youtube links of his methods are given below: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8IWltctlbs&t=984s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uir-iOP8BrQ&t=21s

Preparation

Lie down on your back in savasana or corpse pose on a mat or thin mattress on the ground. Close your eyes. In the preparatory stage, you relax your body and mind by simply being aware of your body, posture and sounds around. Forget all your cares and worries and just concentrate on Yoga Nidra practice.  

Sankalpa or Resolve

Next, you take a Sankalpa or a resolve. During Yog Nidra, your mind is very receptive to ideas and suggestions. A seed sworn during this time can reap a rich harvest later on. Make sure your resolve is positive, crisp, clear and in present tense like I am healthy. Repeat your Sankalpa three times with full awareness and conviction. Choose your Sankalpa with care according to your needs and inclination.

Rotation of consciousness

In the next stage, you follow the instructions and rotate your consciousness around your body. Your instructor will systematically take you first around the right, left, front and back sides of your body.

Awareness of breath

Next, you become aware of your respiration. Awareness of breath not only promotes relaxation but also awakens higher energies and directs them to every cell in your body.

An evocation of  opposite feelings and emotions

Opposite feelings and sensations are evoked in the fifth stage. Usually, a person is asked to recall either physical or emotional sensations like heat and cold, lightness or heaviness or pain and pleasure. The practice of opposite feelings is done to harmonize the opposite hemisphere of the brain.

Guided Imagery or Visualization 

Visualization of certain objects in front of your closed eyes or chidakasha is done next. The guided imagery in Yoga Nidra is used to activate certain portions of your brain and bring the unconscious mind in the realm of consciousness.

Repetition of Sankalpa and conclusion

Before ending the practice, you repeat your Sankalpa three times as the mind is now more receptive to suggestions. The positive feedback loop that you create here would help you to realize your Sankalpa. The practice of Yoga Nidra is concluded by gradually bringing the mind from state of psychic sleep to the waking state.

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