WHAT IS YOGA NIDRA?

Yoga nidra is a form of guided meditation, also known as ‘yogic sleep’, which helps to create a deep sense of relaxation for your body and mind. There are plenty of benefits when practicing yoga nidra, and we believe it’s the perfect style of yoga when you are tired and don’t feel like a vinyasa flow.

During yoga nidra, all you have to do is lie down and listen to the guided meditation. No movement, no posture holding, just you resting in Savasana. Sounds perfect, right!?

Yoga nidra has plenty of benefits and we offer this deeply relaxing experience at our yoga retreats in Victoria. We hope this guided meditation script will help you to restore balance in your body and mind in between our retreats. But first, let’s dive a little deeper into the ancient practice of yoga nidra.

BENEFITS OF YOGA NIDRA

When you practice yoga nidra, your body has the opportunity to heal. We personally feel that a 20 minutes nidra sesh makes us feel like we’ve had a decent 8 hours of sleep. True story!

Yoga nidra influences your autonomic nervous system. Whereas we often ‘hang out’ in our Sympathetic Nervous System – our Fight and Flight response – experiencing yoga nidra helps activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System – our Rest and Digest response.

When you allow your body, and therefore your mind, to deeply relax, it will reduce levels of stress and anxiety. Yoga nidra is a movement-free way of allowing yourself to fully unwind.

Yoga nidra can help with mental clarity and stress reduction

More Benefits of Yoga Nidra:

  • reduces stress
  • improves sleep
  • enhances physical and mental wellbeing
  • boosts memory
  • improves body awareness
  • improves thought patterns
  • can help with anxiety and – to a degree – depression
  • boosts creativity
  • balances your nervous system

It can also help with:

  • swelling of the joints
  • stiffness and tension in the body
  • muscle fatigue
  • back pain
  • menstrual pain
  • rheumatoid arthritis

IS YOGA NIDRA THE SAME AS SLEEPING?

Another bonus of the practice – especially when done right before bed – is that it can help to improve the quality of your sleep. Although it’s often referred to as ‘Yogic Sleep’, yoga nidra is not the same as sleeping.

When you sleep you lose awareness of what’s going on around you. When you practice yoga nidra, you consciously want to try and keep your mind active and aware. Even though yoga nidra helps you to reach a deep state of relaxation – similar to a good night’s rest – your aim is to stay alert and awake.

Yoga nidra is also called ‘yogic sleep’

There is no wrong way to practice yoga nidra. If you drift off and fall asleep, that’s OK. It just means your body really needed the rest. However, try to remain awake as best as you can by listening to the guided meditation.

IS YOGA NIDRA THE SAME AS YIN YOGA?

No. Whereas both mindfulness practices can be deeply relaxing and restorative, yoga nidra is not the same as yin. During a yin yoga session you will move through a variety of yoga postures to help stretch your muscles and fascia (connective tissue). It can alleviate tension and tightness in your physical body, but more importantly, it can be really soothing for the mind. As a rough guide, postures are held between 3 to 5 minutes but this can be shorter or longer depending on your body and your teacher. 

Yoga nidra is not the same as yin yoga

Yin becomes a meditative practice when you allow yourself to let go of external distractions, and practice the art of re-directing your attention from your to-do list to sensations in your body, your breath or any other single-pointed focus of choice. We always like to emphasise that it is important to make any yoga practice your own. Listening to your body, making small adjustments to your posture, or creating slow movements are encouraged during the yin classes that take place at our Yoga Retreats.

During yoga nidra you don’t move through postures. You (usually) lie flat on your back in a comfortable position for the duration of the session. Of course, moving is encouraged IF you feel your position is uncomfortable to the extent that it takes away from your nidra experience. However, it is recommended that you stay as still as possible. 

A studio yin class is usually 60 or 90 mins, whereas a yoga nidra guided meditation can be anything between 15 and 30 minutes. Unless you do a yin session at home, in both a nidra and a yin class, you will listen to the guidance of your teacher.

WHO IS IT FOR?

Honestly, anyone can practice yoga nidra. Even if you have never done yoga or have never meditated before, you will find that 20 minutes of ‘Yogic Sleep’ can be quite rejuvenating.

We find that yoga nidra especially benefits ‘high-performers’ and anyone who struggles with anxiety or stress. It’s also extremely valuable for people who have trouble sleeping, and those who simply want to ‘take a break’ from the busyness of daily life.

If you feel you have an overactive mind and you tend to jump from thought to thought, yoga nidra allows you to let go and rest. It can help with mental clarity and some of our retreat guests have reported feeling a ‘boost of creativity’ afterwards.

Yoga nidra helps to boost your creative juices!

THE STAGES OF YOGA NIDRA

There are many different types of yoga nidra scripts. Whereas they all vary to some degree, most scripts follow similar steps. The script that we use for our nidra meditation, follows the below 8 steps:

STEP 1: INTRODUCTION

A short and sweet introduction in which we ask you to lie down and get comfortable, and tell you some of the ‘best practices’ for yoga nidra. Remember, there is no wrong way to experience the guided meditation. Always listen to your body, and if you fall asleep, that’s ok.

We also highly recommend wearing super comfy clothes, and socks – if your feet get cold easily. You can cover yourself with a blanket as long as you don’t feel ‘restricted’ by its weight.

STEP 2: RELAXATION

This is the first step to getting your body and mind as relaxed as possible. We use sound awareness and visualisation techniques to help you ‘settle in’. Don’t worry if you don’t absorb all the words from the guided meditation. Your mind will inevitably wander (it’s designed to do that!). As soon as you notice your thoughts drifting, come back to the voice of the meditation guide.

Step 2 yoga nidra: relaxation techniques

STEP 3: INTENTION SETTING

You will be asked to set an intention – also known as Sankalpa – for your practice. Your Sankalpa is a short and positive statement and can be related to the desired outcome of the practice, for example: I am deeply relaxed. Your Sankalpa could also be something that you wish to manifest in your daily life, and it can be as simple as ‘I am happy and healthy’.

STEP 4: BREATH AWARENESS

The next step focuses on your breath, encouraging you to let go of any further external distractions. Concentrating on your breath will allow an even deeper state of relaxation as you notice the breath flowing in and out of your body.

There is no need to alter your breath in any way. All you need to do is breathe, and notice any sensations in your body.

STEP 5: BODY SCAN

The body scan part is also called ‘rotation of consciousness’. It’s a systematic journey of sensory awareness throughout your body, where you rotate your awareness to various parts of your body. The body scan encourages you to draw your attention inwards, away from external sensations.

Your meditation guide will name certain parts of your body, whilst you bring your awareness to that body part. It can also be helpful to mentally repeat the body part to yourself as soon as you hear it named.

STEP 6: OPPOSITE SENSATIONS

In this step you are asked to move your awareness to various opposing sensations in your body, for example – light and heavy. Imagining these opposite feelings in your body will stimulate different parts of your brain, and thus creating new neural pathways.

STEP 7 : IMAGE VISUALISATION

One of our favourite parts, this rapid image visualisation will ask you to ‘jump’ from image to image in your mind. The idea is to visualise a number of different objects and situations as an image in your mind on the level of emotion and memory that works for you.

Step 7 yoga nidra: image visualisation

STEP 8 : RETURN

You will be asked to come back to the intention you set at the start of the yoga nidra practice. Once this is done, we’ll slowly guide you out of your meditation by refocussing on the connection with your body and the floor, and the connection with your body and your breath.

YOGA NIDRA GUIDED MEDITATION VIDEO

Keen to give yoga nidra a go? We have created a guided meditation that is easy to follow. Make sure that you are warm enough and cover yourself with a blanket if that feels good. Find a position that will be comfortable for the duration of the practice.

Yoga Nidra | Deep Relaxation Guided Meditation

We hope you enjoyed the practice and that you will reap the benefits of yoga nidra. More guided meditations are in the making. Feel free to subscribe below to stay in the loop.


About the author: Sab is the founder of Retreat Here and Sabijn Linssen Yoga. She plans and facilitates our Yoga Retreats and helps to connect likeminded women in real life. As a fully certified Yoga & Pilates Teacher she also offers private and corporate classes in Melbourne.



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