It is interesting to see how yoga nidra, where we literally do ‘nothing’, can do wonders for the body and mind. I find yoga nidra as restorative as sleep, or even better than sleep. It offers benefits that go deep down to the subtle levels of our being.
Beyond just sleeping
Yoga nidra – my first understanding of this word was ‘sleep during yoga’. It was only after an Sri Sri Yoga teacher, Dinesh Kashikar explained yoga nidra that I discovered it wasn't yoga sleep. He said when you work with awareness (mind not wandering elsewhere), the work gets done better and faster. He went on to explain that nidra means a relaxed state of mind but when we add awareness to it, it becomes yoga nidra.
As we become aware of the different parts of the body, relaxation is much more natural and effective. But when we sleep, everything shuts down, including the awareness, and so relaxation remains incomplete somewhere. I reflected upon how I would hit the bed every time I felt tired and worn out and still feel lethargic and tired in the morning as though I hadn’t slept at all. When I started doing yoga nidra meditation after my morning yoga postures, I felt relaxed like never before. My daily dose of yoga nidra not only charges my body, but also calms my mind. I work better with a clear and focused mind.
Often emotional and mental patterns would continue from the previous day. But as I experienced yoga nidra, these patterns erased after such a session. It is as if someone pressed the refresh button. Following yoga nidra instructions, you can experience a state of absolute bliss too.
Vinitha Nishit, a participant from one of Art of Living’s graduate programs, echoes my thoughts when she shares, “On days I feel low and my mind is clouded with unnecessary negative thoughts, I lie down for a short yoga nidra and the change is very evident. I feel a lot lighter; my cluttered mind clears up. I think positively and the energy to work is tremendous.”
Yoga nidra benefits
Apart from its benefits off the yoga mat, yoga nidra works wonders on the mat too. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “It’s very important to include yoga nidra at the end of any asana sequence as the body and mind need the time to assimilate the effects of the asanas.” Additionally, lying down in yoga nidra helps cool the body and restores it to normal temperature.
To summarize, the benefits of yoga nidra include:
Deep rest in few minutes, similar to rest after overnight sleep
Rejuvenation at physical and mental level
Relax & rejuvenate through yoga nidra
As I follow up my yoga posture practice with pranayama and meditation, I realize the important role yoga nidra can play in preparing the body and mind to enter a meditative state. I remember struggling to meditate when I initially started, but yoga nidra made it easier; another benefit of yoga nidra.
As we take our attention to various parts of the body, we activate the nervous system which helps increase relaxation and enhances the meditation process.
The more you practice yoga nidra, the better it gets. You can also enhance your experience with simple yoga nidra tips.
Yoga nidra for me is like a ‘super nap’ that recharges me in no time. It is a complete rejuvenation package – a must to relieve ourselves of daily stress in today’s busy world.
~ Written by Pritika Nair, a passionate writer, a regular meditator and a doting mother of two.