5 Reasons Why You Should Practice Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra or what is termed a 'Yogic Sleep' is a profound form of guided relaxation. It is the ideal antidote to our modern over stimulated lives, it is perfect if you have trouble sleeping, or if you are really run-down.

For so many of us, particularly those with busy lives, or do a lot of fast sports like running and cycling, being quiet and still can be very hard. This practice aims to provide you with the space and time to do this, without feeling guilty. 

You know that Savasana pose (the one where you lie on your back and take lots of deep breaths) that serves as the finale of most yoga classes? If that's your favourite part of doing yoga, then you're going to love Yoga Nidra. 

I came to fall in love with the practice of Yoga Nidra in India, as it was practised everyday as an element of Yoga Teacher training. When I first entered the room and was asked to lie in Savasana, my first thought was oooh nice, a quick snooze. I soon realised that this the opposite of what I was meant to be doing. Yoga Nidra may look like a nap, but it's actually a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake, yet completely relaxed.

Click here to download Ahimsa Yoga and Wellness' introductory and first step, level 1 podcast. But first why not take a look at the Top 5 Benefits you will get from this practice.

Reduces Stress & Improves Sleep 

Yoga Nidra, in a sense, is the closest we get to sleep without actually falling asleep, like the transition from being awake to being asleep. More than forcing yourself to concentrate, you should simply be aware and see where the Yoga Nidra leads your mind.

Several studies down over the last two decades show that Yoga Nidra can have different positive effects and those who practice it regularly. Kamakhya Kumar, the department head of Yogic Science at Uttarakhand Sanskrit University in India, has done several studies observing the results of Yoga Nidra practice. These studies results include:

  • Reduction of stress and anxiety in higher class students over six months.
  • Helps reduce blood pressure. 
  • Increases in the level of haemoglobin and TLC level, helping, in the long-term with the immune system issues. 
  • Equal amount of reduction in stress levels among male and female subjects who partook in Yoga Nidra practice in 2008.

Practising 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.

Re-balance 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 re balance this fundamentally important aspect of our physiology. Yoga Nidra is kinda like a bubble bath for the nervous system.

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.

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!

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.

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!

Click here to download Ahimsa Yoga and Wellness' introductory and first step, level 1 podcast.

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Clare McGill