For many of us, the daily stressors we have in our lives mean that falling asleep can be relatively difficult. Outside of trying all the more basic relaxation techniques, such as taking a long bath, winding down in the evening, and switching off your phone an hour before you go to bed, even counting sheep, sometimes sleep still does not come easily. In comes practices such as Yoga Nidra, designed to help your brain fully relax and quieten any racing thoughts you may be having. In this article, we will be looking at what this practice consists of, the effects it can have on your day-to-day sleeping schedule, and how to get started.
What is Yoga Nidra?
For those yogis that aren’t familiar with Yoga Nidra, it’s a form of guided meditation known as ‘yogic sleep’ or ‘effortless relaxation' that many will practice in order to get a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Typically, Yoga Nidra will take place whilst a teacher is guiding them and the yogi is lying down, on their mat. This routine is great for those looking to draw attention inwards and go between the states of both wakefulness and sleep. Our bodies find an equilibrium in this state, and it allows for our breath to become quiet and slow, making us fall into a feeling of unawareness.
The Effects of Yoga On Our Sleeping Patterns
Yoga is known already to have a positive effect on our sleeping patterns, benefiting how well we rest at night, for how long, and the overall quality of our sleep. One of the best possible reasons behind this is that yoga involves a lot of stretching and relaxing of the muscles, which of course, can cause significant physical exertion. This can in turn mean that they are able to fall into a deeper sleep, with less regular disturbances.
Whilst Yoga Nidra doesn’t exactly sound like it would have you up and moving, in comparison to a regular yoga routine, it is extremely relaxing and beneficial for those looking to work on their sleeping schedule. Yoga Nidra allows you to feel centered and relaxed enough to drift between the land of sleep and being awake, resulting in a more blissful and fulfilling night’s rest for most.
How Do You Practise Yoga Nidra?
One of the key benefits of practicing this form of yoga is that it’s extremely accessible and open to all yogis - no matter the skill level or knowledge beforehand. It is also widely practiced, which means that many yoga instructors know what Yoga Nidra is, how best to perform it, and therefore, how to make it a more enjoyable experience for their class.
Simply pick up your yoga mat, roll it out, and lay down on it with your eyes closed. Your yoga instructor will guide you from there, telling you what to do. Typically, these sessions can last around 35 to 40 minutes, which is just enough time for you to breathe, relax and spend some time exploring your mind. A good thing to do before you get started though is to think of the intention behind your session.
When it comes to yoga, you are typically set on more physical goals, such as getting more advanced at certain stretches or focusing on your breathing, however, with Yoga Nidra, you are looking at more mental ones. For example, why are you doing this? And, what are you looking to find with yourself by completing this practice?
Some of the notable benefits of incorporating Yoga Nidra into your weekly yoga routine are that it can improve your thought patterns, whilst also reducing stress. You may also feel a heightened sense of self-esteem and confidence, which will be followed by improved waking mindfulness. In addition, this type of yoga is highly recommended for anyone who suffers from symptoms of anxiety, depression, and even, post-traumatic stress disorder.