Some call it the Yogic Sleep, while others may know it as a form of meditation. But both sides would agree that Yoga Nidra offers tons of benefits. Even from the very beginning, you’ll see how it affects you, both physically and mentally. In line with our vision in Yoga Matto, all 11 benefits of Yoga Nidra lead into one thing: your complete wellbeing. Let’s dig dipper into this simple method of yoga everyone can benefit from.
What is yoga nidra?
Even though it’s often considered as meditation, Yoga Nidra is something else. Yes, both do share the same goal. But they work in two distinctive ways. Meditation helps you channel all of your senses to focus on a certain thought, feeling, or state, depending on its aim. On the other hand, Yoga Nidra lets you withdraw from all of those senses to reach beyond your consciousness. That’s quite the opposite.
So how does this work? As you perform Savasana or the corpse pose, your body is guided to reach its most relaxed state. Unlike sleeping, you’re fully awake during Yoga Nidra, but all of your senses are resting. In other words, through Yoga Nidra, you’ll reach a certain state between being awake and sleeping. This state is called Samadhi. It’s Sanskrit for “a state of at which union with the divine is reached”. Indonesia has the term “Semedi”, which is the act of intense meditation. Getting to this ultimate state, there are steps your body will have to go through. These steps are called the Pancha Maya Kosha or The Five Layer of Self.
Yoga nidra is better than sleeping
First of all, don’t get us wrong. Yoga Nidra cannot replace our 5-12 hours of night’s sleep. It just has certain benefits that even the best night’s sleep cannot give. Sometimes, we have unpredicted dreams or nightmares on nights we’re sound asleep. Some people even have problems with sleep-talking, or worse: sleepwalking. These happen because we don’t have full control of our mind and body when we’re asleep. It’s as if we let our subconscious to take over the wheel.
Through Yoga Nidra, you’ll reach the same level of relaxation (or even better) as you’re sleeping. Yet, you’re still on the driver’s seat. You are in control. Instead of letting your mind wander off to unpleasant dreams, you guide it to the thoughts you desire.
Even though you’re fully awake, Yoga Nidra brings you to a more relaxed state compared to when you’re sleeping. To help you understand this better, let’s dig a little deeper into our states of mind below.
From beta to delta waves
This is our state of mind when we’re awake. Our brain fully functions with dozens of thoughts per second. Your brain can go from thinking about “What’s for lunch?” to recapping the last Netflix series you watched in just a matter of split seconds. In this state, we’re far from being relaxed.
Just like Beta, we’re fully awake on the Alpha wave. But here, we’re more relaxed. Your thoughts are more controlled, instead of jumping from food to TV series. Your train of thoughts is more organized, so to speak. And instead of dozens of things, your brain goes around 5-10 thoughts per second only.
Theta wave or deep alpha wave
This is the state we have during REM sleep. We’re completely relaxed, but still with thoughts in mind. However, our brain’s speed goes as low as 3 thoughts per second.
Also known as the restorative state, this is where your brain goes when you’re under anesthesia or in a coma. Usually, you would only have 1-2 thoughts per second. Sometimes, just one single thought the entire time. When our brain is on the Delta wave, our body takes time to heal and restore energy, hence the name restorative state. This is as relaxed as our sleep can take us. And believe it or not, Yoga Nidra takes you even deeper than this state. On that note, let’s get started on the benefits of Yoga Nidra.
From deep asleep to a better life: the benefits of yoga nidra
1. Better quality sleep
Let’s pick up where we left off earlier. Through Yoga Nidra, you’ll reach a state that is more relaxed than Delta. While Delta wave still leaves you with a thought or two, Yoga Nidra’s state of relaxing is thoughtless. This way, your brain can fully relaxed and restore, more than what sleep can do. In other words, not even your best regular sleep can take you to this level of relaxation. The more often you practice Yoga Nidra, the better you are at reaching that state. Combine your regular sleep with the Yogic sleep, and you’ll get better quality sleep.
2. Helps you fall asleep
Besides increasing your sleep quality, Yoga Nidra helps you fall asleep better. We’ve met a lot of yoga practitioners in our class who suffered from insomnia. So we recommend them trying Yoga Nidra. Through guided meditation at first, this problem went away gradually. Now, they’re in control of when they want to sleep and even how long they need to!
If you have a similar problem, Yoga Nidra is your answer. Bring Savasana into your bedtime routine and you’ll soon realize how easy it is to fall asleep. While the Yoga Nidra session itself can go from 30 minutes to 1 hour, you can adjust this to your routine. We recommend 15 minutes before bedtime. And if you’re new, you can follow a guided session first until you can surf the waves yourself.
3. Feeling well-rested when you wake up
Adapting Yoga Nidra into your bedtime routine doesn’t just help you fall asleep, but also energizes you more when you wake up. This is achieved through the previous two benefits of Yoga Nidra. As you fall asleep better, you spend no time staring blankly at the ceiling or counting sheep. And with better quality sleep, you don’t need to sleep 12 hours to finally feel well-rested. There’s nothing better than feeling fully refreshed in the morning. You’ll be up for whatever the day brings upon you!
4. Reduce stress
Once you reach the sense of wholeness, you're in full control of your thoughts. No more dwelling on the past or worrying too much about the future. You get to decide how long and how deep you can ponder without being carried away with your bad thoughts. And through breathing awareness, you can face your anxiety and fear on your term.
5. Increase dopamine
Yoga Nidra has been proven to increase the dopamine level in the human brain. Dopamine is a hormone your brain produces to help you relax. It’s what you need to face the day with optimism. This is your fuel of happiness. However, only certain things help trigger dopamine production. And as we get older (and perhaps more sour), we continue to lose grip on those particular things. Unfortunately, some people take a shortcut by taking active drugs. Yes, that “high” sensation is what dopamine is all about. And you can get that through Yoga Nidra.
6. Lower your blood pressure
Stress affects your health, not just mentally but also physically. When we’re stressed, our heart rates usually spike up. This results in tons of health issues, including high blood pressure. But as our body learns to cope better with stress, our blood pressure decreases gradually. In some cases, Yoga Nidra also helps reducing cholesterol levels!
7. Improve heart rate variability (HRV)
Some cases of a heart attack occur when the body suddenly has to endure a drastic change in heart rates, whether it’s increasingly high or dropping low. That’s why working out is important to let our hearts get used to these changes.
While going to the gym or cardio exercises may not be practical for you, Yoga Nidra can be a great alternative. Through some breathing techniques, you bring your heart rate as low as possible in the most relaxed state. Then, you bring it back up while regaining full consciousness of your surroundings. This simple practice helps your heart exercise and improves its HRV. As a result, you get a healthier heart without having to run for miles every day.
8. A good start of yoga
Yoga Nidra is as easy as breathing, figuratively, and literally. Besides a good alternative to cardio exercise, it's also a great way for you to start yoga. Anyone can do Yoga Nidra. Your kids and grandparents can join in too! Unlike the long holds of Asana or the intense flows of Vinyasa, Yoga Nidra is simple and easy.
9. Cope with stress
Reaching the ultimate state with a sense of wholeness means you have better control of yourself, especially your mental wellbeing. Even if you still cannot cope with it in the long term, during that 30 minutes or 1 hour Yoga Nidra, you gain full control. At least for that period, you are with yourself and able to overcome your anxieties.
If we have to choose one among all benefits of Yoga Nidra, this is probably the best and most important. This benefit has been tested by so many professionals, including the army. Yoga Nidra is used as a meditation technique to help soldiers cope with PTSD.
As human beings, we have suffered in the past. And some of us are still haunted by it. Let Yoga Nidra heal your psychological trauma. Breathe in all the sense of joy and breathe out all the negativity.
10. Learn more about yourself
Yoga Nidra takes you through The Five Layers of Self to regain control of your mind and body. As you peel layer by layer, you dig deeper, beyond your conscious. Through this journey, you get to know more about yourself. What your limit is. And what you can accomplish. On this journey, it’s just you and yourself, nothing else in between. Not even the swarming thoughts you could not shake off in the past. As you reach deeper, you explore more about yourself and your true potential.
11. Better health in general
All of these benefits to Yoga Nidra lead to one thing: better you. This includes better health and a better quality of life. As you find a way to be more relaxed, you’d feel so much better. And as you sleep better at night, you’ll be ready for whatever’s ahead of you.
Through practicing Yoga Nidra, your heart works better. Your blood pressure becomes normal. And your mind is free of nonsense thoughts. Who would’ve thought a simple breathing meditation can have so many important benefits?
Yoga nidra with eco-friendly yoga mat
From the ancient days of guru in India to modern practitioners worldwide nowadays, Yoga Nidra has taken over the world. Knowing these 11 benefits of Yoga Nidra, that should come as no surprise. Instead of putting aside or forgetting your problems, Yoga Nidra helps you face them without the negativity. Think of it as learning how to surf. But instead of the ocean, it's the wave of your anxiety.
Let’s help you surf the waves with the best yoga partner you can have. Choosing eco-friendly yoga mat doesn’t just help protect our earth, but also your health. Unfortunately, most yoga mats are made of PVC or plastic material. This is not just bad for the environment, but also affects your wellbeing greatly. We dig deeper into how PVC yoga mat affects your health in another article. What you need to know now is that using a PVC yoga mat may cancel all the benefits of Yoga Nidra. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you by choosing only the best eco-friendly yoga mat.
So, how should we begin your journey through the exciting yet relaxing Yoga Nidra world? It’s so simple and easy. Everyone in your household can join in! Perhaps you can start doing it as your cooling down session after a workout at home? Or how about including it as your hiking group activity? Grab a yoga mat and do Savasana out in the open, surrounded by trees and nature. Now that’s relaxing!