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What Is Yoga Nidra and Why You Should Include It in Your Practice

The first written acknowledgment of Yoga Nidra dates back as early as 700 BC. The practice, originating in India, was historically used by ancient sages to consciously observe and purify their samskaras or the impression of the mind.

Since then, this powerful meditation technique has been used to ease the effects of insomnia, decrease the grip of anxiety, and even reduce everyday stress. Of course, the real benefits of Yoga Nidra meditation go far beyond what happens on your mat.

So what is Yoga Nidra and how does it work? Follow along to discover the true impact of this beautiful guided meditation and how incorporating it into your yoga practice can transform your life.

What Is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra is Sanskrit for yogic sleep. However,  this doesn’t mean you’ll be booking in a time slot for your much-deserved nap.

The deep meditation technique sends your awareness inward through a guided withdrawal of the senses known as Pratyahara. The teacher will lead you through Pancha Maya Kosha (the 5 layers of self) to rest peacefully in a state between sleep and waking.

By shifting focus to the third eye, a Yoga Nidra practice will bring you to a deeper state of meditation that is said to be equivalent to around 5 hours of sleep. On top of this, this state stimulates the pineal gland to release a hormone in the brain called melatonin.

This hormone, although known best for its contribution to a good night’s sleep, can influence your stress levels and boost your immune system (hello Covid-19).

What Happens At a Yoga Nidra Meditation?

Unlike other meditations, you’ll practise this technique the same way you end a yoga class. In the nurturing posture of Savasana. There’s no need to worry about sitting straight up and still for an hour as your practice will be cushioned and cozy for ultimate relaxation.

Here at Prana Yoga and Wellness, our lovely teacher Dianne will help you shift your awareness inward by incorporating Pranayama (breathing techniques) and Dharana (concentration) throughout the Yoga Nidra meditation.

With the gentle guidance of your teacher’s voice, you’ll slip into a deep state of mental, physical, and emotional relaxation. Among the many benefits of Yoga Nidra, regular practice will aid in harmonizing the brain hemispheres, allowing you to experience better mental performance in your everyday life.

The Benefits of Yoga Nidra Meditation

If you already practice yoga regularly, you may be wondering how a still class can elevate your practice. The answer to this lies in your ‘off the mat’ experience just as much if not more than your ‘on the mat’ practice.

Just like your favourite Hatha or Yin class, Yoga Nidra assists you to take your practice beyond a physical movement, tapping into the 8 limbs of yoga and incorporating the lessons into your overall life.

Yoga Nidra benefits include profound results like:

  • Relief from insomnia
  • Lowered anxiety
  • Less stress
  • Assistance with chronic pain or the effects of PTSD
  • Heightened awareness and focus
  • Transformation of negative behaviours and mindset
  • Feelings of balance, clarity, peacefulness, and calm.

So how does this look in your life?

Detach From Your Thoughts

The monkey mind is always on the move. While this is a perfectly natural and normal thing, life can become quite dramatic and stressful when we let our minds take over.

Through yoga and meditation, we put in the work to bring the mind into the present, letting to-do lists and worries of the day fall to the wayside, if only for an hour’s practice. With Yoga Nidra, you’ll experience a deeper state of detachment that may even become more sustainable with regular practice.

You’ll learn valuable techniques and receive guidance to allow your monkey mind to rest, allowing you to get the most out of your relaxed state. You may even notice your mind drifting less in your other classes.

Reduce Stress In the Mind and Body

Tension, aches and pains, and even emotional stress can feel like a massive burden. Fortunately, Yoga Nidra can ease the intensity and frequency of these situations by nurturing the body, mind, and soul.

It can be difficult to set time out for ourselves to be indulgent and focus on self-care. Many times we even rationalize this time by combining it with other ‘useful’ tasks. This can lead us to believe that yoga is only ‘worth it’ when exercise is involved.

Of course, this is not the case, and practising a still mind and body can do wonders for your stress levels, pain in your body and emotions, and even soothe that tense state so many of us live in.

Connect With Yourself

In the deep meditative state of Yoga Nidra, you may find yourself realizing elements you weren’t consciously aware of before.

Not only will you become aware of your body, but also your emotional response, your values, and even your deepest desires. Allowing yourself to slip into this place between waking and sleeping can allow you to discover your true self and bring that version of you out from within.

Practice Awareness in Everyday Settings

As you learn yourself and bring your beautiful presence to the surface, you’ll notice a shift in the way you respond, think, and even feel about everyday things.

From things like letting your coworker’s unthoughtful words slide off your back to noticing the emotions and physical responses that occur in various situations, the development of your awareness is infinite and profoundly powerful.

How To Incorporate Yoga Nidra in Your Practice

One of our favourite things about Yoga Nidra is that anyone can do it. Whether you are brand new to yoga or have been practising for years, Yoga Nidra meditation can benefit every individual and is easily accessible.

In fact, there’s no such thing as ‘doing it wrong’. Whether you slip into a restful state with ease or have some obstacles getting there, the practice allows everyone to experience their unique journey and reap the benefits.

Not only can everyone participate, but you can dive into a Yoga Nidra guided meditation at any time of the day. The only thing you want to avoid is coming to class with a full belly as this could send you off to dreamland instead of the beautiful in-between state.

Experience the Yoga Nidra Benefits

From ultimate relaxation to improved awareness in your daily activities, Yoga Nidra is the cherry on top of your yoga practice that you’ve been waiting for. From your 1st meditation to your 500th, there’s something in this guided practise for everyone.

Ready to experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra for yourself? Book your class today and surrender to relaxation in a comfortable and nurturing space.

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