Yoga Nidra is a form of guided relaxation that can do amazing things for your health and happiness! Made popular by Swami Satyananda of the Bihar School of Yoga, it's an ancient practice for the mind and body that is as powerful as it is subtle.
While the word Nidra means sleep, the idea of Yoga Nidra is in fact actually not to drift off to sleep. Your body sleeps, yes, but your mind remains relaxed and alert so that transformation and rejuvenation can take place.
While the list could be 100 points long, here are 10 reasons to love this incredible practice.
1. It's ridiculously easy.
All you need to do is lie down on the floor or bed and close your eyes and listen to the voice guiding you. It's that simple.
2. Increase the quality of your sleep
Practicing a Yoga Nidra before you go to bed can help you sail off into the land of nod quite effortlessly. As someone who understands the frustrations and stress associated with insomnia, I find that the more regularly I practice Yoga Nidra, the more consistent my sleeping patterns become and the more refreshed I feel when I wake up.
3. Relax your body
As you go through the body rotations in Yoga Nidra, you get to systematically relax every single aspect of your physical self. For those of us who find it really really really hard to let go of physical tension, this part of the practice feels like a gift! It's also incidentally a simple and easy way to get back to sleep if you wake in the middle of the night.
4. Stress management
It's an incredibly effective stress management tool as it reminds your mind and body how to function in a relaxed and rested way. While other forms of relaxation are amazing, in Yoga Nidra you're not only releasing tension in the body, you're also releasing accumulated tensions in the mind, which is really where stress begins.
5. Rebalance your nervous system
The central nervous system has 2 aspects, sympathetic (gets us moving) and parasympathetic (helps us relax). Many of us spend way too much time in sympathetic nervous system mode which can create stress and anxiety and lead to exhaustion. On the level of the nervous system, it's super important to take time to relax and rebalance this fundamentally important aspect of our physiology. Yoga Nidra is kinda like a bubble bath for the nervous system.
6. It can help facilitate healing
Often used as a form of yoga therapy, deep rest and relaxation practices can help the body — and mind — heal and recover from injury and illness. And the fact that the practice is done lying down without any physical effort at all makes it accessible for pretty much anyone.
7. Intuitive guidance
When the body and mind are relaxed, the doorway to your intuition (aka hunches, instinct, or those strong gut feelings) can be opened. Messages from your intuition are strong and clear so they stand out from the constant chatter of a busy distracted mind. I find that my intuition is incredibly strong in the hours after a Yoga Nidra and the more regularly I practice, the more I feel myself being guided by my higher self and less driven by irrational thoughts and emotions.
8. Develop a personal intention (Sankalpa)
A fundamental aspect of the practice, Sankalpa (which means resolve or intention) gives you the chance to create change or manifest something positive in your life by planting a specific idea into the deeper mind. When you reinforce your personal intention at the end of the practice when the mind is relaxed, open and receptive, it's like planting a seed in a very rich and fertile soil. It can't help but grow and manifest.
9. Increase self esteem
I find that the more I practice Yoga Nidra, the better I feel about myself. Why? Because I'm consciously taking time out of my day to nurture my well-being on the inside and out. That sends a really strong and really positive message to my heart and mind that I care about myself and that I deserve to feel good. Which we all do.
10. Boost energy levels
Through targeted rest and relaxation we reduce stress and tension that can sap us of our vital energy. Combine this with the boost to your self esteem and all the sleep you'll be getting and you've got a recipe for feeling amazing!
Yoga Nidra can be practiced at the end of a yoga class in place of Savasana, though it can also be done separately as a stand alone relaxation practice. However, whenever and wherever you use it, Yoga Nidra will surely have a positive effect on your happiness and wellbeing!