As hard and strenuous as some of its poses may be, yoga is still an exercise that has deep roots in relaxation. The apex of yoga's relaxation exercises is yoga nidra, a kind of yogic sleep-like meditative state. It's not just any kind of sleep, though. Practitioners enter into a deep sleep but remain conscious, letting them achieve heightened levels of relaxation and allowing for much deeper meditation.
How Yoga Nidra Helps
The ability of yoga masters to freely move through the many stages of sleep while remaining conscious has already been scientifically proven and recognized for the past few decades. Similarly, the physical and mental benefits of yoga nidra have been observed in a scientific setting. Yogic sleep is a very useful exercise for those suffering from sleep disorders. It has been found to decrease the time it takes for a person to fall asleep so insomniacs can finally get the sleep they so desperately crave. It also helps release negative feelings such as stress, tension, and anxiety as well as the physical maladies that they lead to like stomach pains and high blood pressure. It is so effective, in fact, that it is used to help soldiers cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Achieving Yoga Nidra
There are many methods through which a yoga practitioner can enter the state of yoga nidra. All of them are based on complete mastery of the basics of yoga such as conscious breathing and learning to let your whole body relax. This means that beginners will likely have a hard time reaching such a deep level of relaxation at first. A solid grasp of the basics will make things much easier. Having a professional guide you through the process is the best way to achieve it but as long as you know what you're doing, it's very possible to reach it on your own. The first step is usually complete relaxation, although more advanced practitioners can jump straight into a 61-points exercise which focuses attention on each of your body's parts one by one and move on to yogic sleep.
Achieving yoga nidra is a worthwhile goal to aim for whether you're a beginner or an advanced yoga student. It might take some time to finally reach that goal, but when you do you'll quickly find it to be a very satisfying journey. Thanks to the relaxation and clarity of thought that it brings about, it's a great way to both start and end the day.