What is Yoga Nidra and how can it Help Your Wellbeing?
- Yoga nidra is the practice of deep relaxation whilst remaining conscious.
- Studies have shown that yoga nidra can improve sleep, anxiety symptoms and chronic pain.
- Women suffering from some menstrual disorders have benefited from yoga nidra.
If you practice mindfulness or meditation, you may have heard of yoga nidra. Unlike active yoga such as hatha yoga or kundalini yoga which involves movement and exercise, yoga nidra is all about stopping and allowing your body to relax, deeply. For many people, achieving deep relaxation is a goal that is hard to achieve. Particularly those who have busy schedules with full family lives or are coping with health concerns. Quieting your mind and becoming deeply relaxed offers many physical, mental and emotional benefits and yoga nidra, known as yogic sleep, is considered by some as a powerful way to control the body’s relaxation response.
What happens in yoga nidra?
In yoga nidra, participants lie down for around 45 minutes. The aim is to achieve a deep state of awareness-led sleep, remaining conscious all the time. During this time you are guided through focusing on specific goals. You will work on visualising your lifelong goal and feel the joy that comes with accomplishing it. You will focus on why you are doing yoga nidra and what you want to achieve, finding your own internal safe space to go to during the session. You will focus on your breath, helping you slow down and you will become aware of your feelings. You will turn negative thoughts into positives and may even experience joy.
What is the difference between yoga nidra and meditation?
Both meditation and yoga nidra help activate the relaxation response and support the functioning of your nervous system and endocrine system, which affects your hormones. Both encourage cells to regenerate and repair, tackle anxiety and improve your mood. Meditation and yoga nidra are similar but they are two different practices. Meditation traditionally is focused on being aware of one thing. Yoga Nidra guides you through various steps to go deeper into your inner-self and this depth is not achieved in meditation’s waking state.
What is yoga nidra good for?
The main benefit of yoga nidra is considered improved mindfulness. In addition, studies have uncovered positive effects on sleep, chronic pain, depression and anxiety.
Yoga nidra interacts with the autonomic nervous system by producing positive changes in heart rate variability measures. All the processes that your body does without a conscious effort (heartbeat, breathing, digestion and blood flow) are managed by the autonomic nervous system.
By improving sleep through training your mind and body to relax deeper, people who practice yoga nidra report enjoying improved quality of life and well-being.
Is yoga nidra good for depression?
Yogic relaxation therapy through yoga nidra leads to conscious and subconscious recognition of underlying psychological factors and helps release repressed conflicts. Research has also linked yoga nidra to improved self-esteem in burn patients as well as several areas of well-being in teenagers. Another research study has shown yoga nidra seemed to be more effective than hatha yoga in reducing anxiety. This study also suggested that cognitive and physiological symptoms of anxiety can be reduced by yoga nidra practice. There is, however, no significant improvement in the patients with severe anxiety and depressive symptoms
Can yoga nidra help psychological difficulties associated with menstrual disorders?
There have been studies that assess the effect of yoga nidra on psychological problems in patients with menstrual disorders including irregular cycles, lack of ovulation and heavy periods. The researchers found the participants who practiced yoga nidra were able to overcome the anxiety and depression associated with the menstrual disorder. This has led to practitioners recommending yoga nidra as an adjunct to conventional drug therapy for menstrual dysfunction.
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Camila Ferreira-Vorkapic,The Impact of Yoga Nidra and Seated Meditation on the Mental Health of College Professors Int J Yoga. 2018 Sep-Dec; 11(3): 215–223. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276934/
Yoga Nidra as a complementary treatment of anxiety and depressive symptoms in patients with menstrual disorder https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4794540/
Markil, N. Yoga Nidra relaxation increases heart rate variability and is unaffected by a prior bout of Hatha yoga, Journal of Altern Complement Med, Oct 2012, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22866996/
Ozdemir A, “Effect of yoga nidra on the self-esteem and body image of burn patients “https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330850725_Effect_of_yoga_nidra_on_the_self-esteem_and_body_image_of_burn_patients February 2019 Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 35
Vaishnav, BS. Effect of Yoga-nidra on Adolescents Well-being: A Mixed Method Study, Int J Yoga. 2018 Sep-Dec; 11(3): 245–248. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134739/