Yoga Nidra For Deep Relaxation and Restoration

I had always known of Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) but had never really practiced it until few months ago and I have to say that I found it to be a deeply relaxing practice; the subtle benefits of which I noticed immediately after my first session.

Cumulative Benefits of Yoga Nidra

  • Healing at a cellular level
  • Greatly reduces stress and induces deep relaxation (One hour of yoga nidra is equivalent to 2-4 hours of sleep)
  • Restful undisturbed sleep

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra means yogic sleep.  It is the practice of entering a state of extremely deep relaxation without actually falling asleep.

What happens during yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra induces deep mental and physical relaxation.  Brain waves go systematically from high activity beta to meditative theta state.  Yoga Nidra can take one to a delta wave state that is even beyond the theta brain waves, which is why it is very important to completely surrender physically and mentally when practicing Yoga Nidra.  There should be no distractions. In this state the stress hormone cortisol is reduced, and the body gets a chance to repair and restore.    The best time for me is at bedtime before falling asleep.  Occasionally I may do this in the afternoon as well.   In this deeply relaxed and thoughtless state, life force or prana get an opportunity to flow freely to every cell of your being.  Accumulated tension, the invisible baggage we subconsciously carry around with us all day long starts to melt away.  When prana flows freely, the body heals at a very deep level.

The Technique

The technique guides you to move your awareness inwards. It starts out with a Sankalpa or resolution made at the beginning and end of yoga nidra for how you would like to see yourself (as healthy, free of all illnesses, successful, in healthy relationships, overcoming bad habits or patterns).  Next you are guided to bring your awareness to different parts of your body in a systematic manner.  As each body part is named, consciously relax it completely.  By the end you would have consciously relaxed every body part.  There are slightly different versions, but the core essence is the same.

  • Lie down in corpse pose/shavasan
  • Legs apart being slightly wider than shoulder width and completely relaxed.
  • Arms slightly away from the body with palms facing upwards and completely relaxed
  • Make sure you use a light blanket so you don’t get cold during the process
  • Completely relax your entire body
  • Make your resolution
  • Imagine your body getting very heavy and sinking into the mat (like it sinks into a hammock). Completely surrender all muscles.
  • Then visualize yourself as light as a feather.
  • Focus your attention to distant sounds followed by sounds in the room.

Bring your mental awareness to each of the body parts in the sequence listed below, moving fast so you’re not lingering more than few seconds on each body part.

  1. Start with bringing your awareness to your right side of the body beginning with the right thumb, index finger, middle finger, fourth finger and little finger, palm, the back side/dorsal part of the palm, wrist, forearm arm, upper arm, shoulder, armpit, right side of the waist, right hip, right thigh, knee cap, calf muscle, ankle, heel, sole, top /dorsal part of the foot, right toes in a sequential manner until you  bring your awareness to the little toe.
  1. Next follow the same sequence for the left side of the body. Bring your awareness to your left side of the body beginning with the left thumb, index finger, middle finger, fourth finger and little finger, left palm, the back side/dorsal part of the palm, wrist, forearm arm,  upper arm, shoulder, armpit, left-side of the waist, left hip, left thigh, knee cap, calf muscle, ankle, heel, sole, top /dorsal part of the foot, left toes in a sequential manner until you  bring your awareness to the little toe.
  1. Now do the reverse of Step 1 starting with the right large toe and moving in sequential order to the little toe, followed by right dorsal/top or front part of the foot, sole, heal, ankle, calf muscle, knee cap, thigh, hip, waist, armpit, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm/lower arm, wrist, back/dorsal part of palm, palm, right thumb, index, middle, ring and little finger.
  1. Do the reverse of Step 2 starting with the left large toe and moving in sequential order to the little toe, followed by left dorsal/top or front part of the foot, sole, heal, ankle, calf muscle, knee cap, thigh, hip, waist, armpit, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm/lower arm, wrist, back/dorsal part of palm, palm, left thumb, index, middle, ring and little finger.
  1. Now bring your awareness to the dorsal/back side of the body starting with the back of the head, right shoulder blade, left shoulder blade, entire length of the spine, right hip, left hip, right buttock, left buttock, dorsal side /back side of the right thigh, left thigh, right calf muscle, left calf muscle, right ankle, left ankle, right heel, left heel.
  1. Repeat this sequence in opposite direction moving upwards the dorsal side of the body.
  1. Now the same with the ventral/front facing parts of the body- Start out with bringing your awareness to the crown of the head, forehead, right eyebrow, left eyebrow, right eyelid, left eyelid, right eye, left eye right ear, ;eft ear, right nostril, left nostril, right cheek, left cheek, upper lip, lower lip, chin, jaw, throat, right collar bone, left collar bone right part of chest, left part of chest, upper abdomen, navel, lower abdomen, groin, right thigh, left thigh, right knee, left knee, right leg, left leg, right toes, left toes. (you can also focus on the internal organs, lungs, diaphragm, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, liver etc.
  1. Now do the reverse of step 8 moving up the body.
  1. Lastly bring your awareness to the head, trunk, right arm, left arm, both arms, right leg, left leg, both legs together, entire body.

Bring your attention to your breath.  Start counting backward with every exhalation (from 30, 50, 100 any number of your choosing).

There are numerous videos on you tube.  Some of these guided Yoga Nidra videos will continue to remind you to not fall asleep during the practice.  If you are a narcoleptic then these videos are perfect for you, but if you suffer from insomnia then it is best to avoid such videos and go for one that does not restrict you from falling asleep.  This is based on my experience.  My recommendation would be go with what works best for you and is aligned with your goals and expectations from this practice.

My favorite guided practice is the one by Baba Ramdev in Hindi. I find it to be very soothing and hypnotic.

A good one in English is the Yoga Nidra Meditation Video: 21 Minutes to Dynamic Sleep on you tube by Bulletproof.

Below is the link to a wonderful resource with detailed information on Yoga Nidra.

Resources: Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

https://archive.org/details/YogaNidra_201610/page/n7

 

 

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mukul Tyagi
    Mar 19, 2019 @ 07:27:36

    Very nice. I have been doing it ofte without knowing much detail. Helps me stay in bed calmly through night even when I can not sleep.

    Love mummy

    Reply

  2. Ramani Nk
    Mar 19, 2019 @ 07:27:54

    Yachnaji

    Thank you very much for mailing on Yoga Nidra and its benefit.

    For the last few days I am also practicing Yoga Nidra before going to the bed as well as in the morning (some days). It has given immense benefits. I follow Swami Niranjanada Saraswati of Bihar Yoga Kendra (Munger). I still need to perfect it for full concentration of Yoga Nidra while doing the YN sometime I miss the intermittent link.

    Thanks and regard,

    Ramani NK S

    Reply

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