Yoga Nidra, also commonly referred to as yogic sleep, is a form of meditation that teeters on the line between wakefulness and sleep. Typically prompted by a guided meditation, this state of consciousness is said to induce total relaxation of the body, mind, and soul; it’s even been reported that a half-hour session of Yoga Nidra can offer the same replenishment as a few hours of sleep. So what exactly is this meditative wizardry? Here, we’ll discuss the benefits of yogic sleep, and how exactly it works on its practitioners.
While Yoga Nidra and meditation share a few similarities — relaxing the body and mind, reducing stress, and quieting our internal noise — they are quite different in many ways, too. For example, while meditation is usually practiced in a seated lotus position, yogic sleep is usually conducted lying down. Blankets and blocks are sometimes encouraged as tools to help the body remain comfortable for a longer period of time. Another difference is the means by which the two practices are induced: during meditation, we are told to direct our attention to one focal point or anchor that the mind can return to when it begins to wander (e.g., a mantra, breathing patterns, an object, or a place), and this can usually be achieved through self-guidance.
Yoga Nidra, on the other hand, is usually practiced through verbal instruction by a meditation guide; we are guided to explore various layers of consciousness and Self. The most notable distinction is the elected state of consciousness. During meditation, we usually find ourselves remaining in a waking state of consciousness, though this may not always be the case. Through Yoga Nidra, the body moves into a state of deep sleep, but the mind is able to remain awake. As such, you essentially have one foot in a state of sleep and another in an awakened state of consciousness. This lucid state of mind combined with a sleeping body state can grant entry to our subconscious mind and memories. Yoga Nidra are often offered as part of Relaxation classes on MixPose live yoga streaming platform.
There are reports that Yoga Nidra’s dual state of consciousness may be an effective method of treatment for various conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, and even PTSD. It is also said that yogic sleep may promote energy boosts, heart function, and a healthy immune system, to list a few. Furthermore, this altered state of consciousness is said to unlock new patterns of thought and generate a deeper, more attuned sense of self that most of us are not able to access in our usual waking state.
The benefits of Yoga Nidra appear endless — whether you are looking to improve upon your physical well-being, discover more about yourself through varying states of consciousness, or relax your mind and body, there is something to be gained by all in taking a guided meditative journey.