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How Does Yoga Nidra Work?

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Yoga nidra or yogic sleep focuses on experiencing complete relaxation and a deeply meditative state. A yoga practice that emphasizes physical postures and breath-work is never complete without it. Follow the 7 stages of yoga nidra and get uplifted consciousness. You will feel restored, relaxed, and your energy will be replenished, even exhilarated. One hour of yoga nidra practice can help you get calm mind and healthy body.

“I’d rather be in yoga nidra! It’s my favorite part of a yoga practice,” can often be heard from people with a yoga practice that focuses on physical postures and breath-work. In fact, a yoga practice is never complete without it since it’s how the body, mind and spirit integrate and absorb all that has taken place.

What’s Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra (pronounced nih-drah) means “yogic sleep.” It’s a comprehensive meditative practice for going far beyond deep relaxation that reliably uncovers and awakens an inner oasis of peacefulness, intuitive understanding, and unconditional joy. Valuable skills are developed for handling stress and tension in the short term and for the long run. It’s based on time-honored yoga principles and practices and backed by contemporary science.

Yoga nidra is usually practiced at the end of a yoga session and never seems to last long enough. It is done in a posture nearly everyone can do called shavasana where you lie on your back with your arms and legs out to your sides. It’s deeply relaxing and restorative.

When all the stages are practiced in sequence and regularly, worries are often replaced with clear thinking, intuition is developed and creativity surges. Mood swings and emotional upsets are balanced out with greater emotional understanding and stability. Self-awareness and witness consciousness are enhanced.

Well, there’s good news. Yoga nidra can be done as a complete practice by itself and last up to an hour. Important techniques are done in a systematic order enabling you to experience profound healing for the body, mind, and spirit.

7 Stages Of Yoga Nidra

  1. Proven relaxation skills are first used to experience total physical relaxation. Your body will typically feel heavy and deeply relaxed and your mind will start quieting down.
  2. Specialized breathing techniques are done to calm down and become balanced energetically. An inner stillness is experienced during this phase.
  3. Techniques, such as guided imagery, visualization, and mindfulness, are used to bring about mental and emotional relief and to help dissolve limiting beliefs. Once this level occurs, the heaviness naturally lifts and a light, buoyant feeling happens. Why? Because you are no longer being “held down” by physical, energetic, mental and emotional tension.
  4. Our inbuilt intuition is naturally revealed after our tensions are relieved during the previous three stages. Even more lightness and genuine peace is felt. This non-mental state of being opens us up to our source of higher knowledge and wisdom.
  5. The fifth stage is indescribable because it goes beyond words and way beyond the thinking mind and into sensing pure contentment and unconditional joy. Inner and outer stillness is felt.
  6. Stage six allows us to naturally experience our true self, a place inside each of us that is always undisturbed, joyful, and wisdom-filled. It’s a timeless, spacious feeling of being totally at ease yet being aware and awake – the primary goal of yoga itself.
  7. It’s important to return to normal wakefulness and awareness at the conclusion of your yoga nidra practice.

These uplifting levels of consciousness are powerful. Afterwards, you will feel restored, relaxed and your energy will be replenished, even exhilarated.

The yoga nidra process makes it completely possible to clear out useless habits and bring about positive and durable changes in your personality by using a sankalpa at the start and the end of the practice. A sankalpa is a special, self-selected resolve that you choose yourself. It’s a sacred vow and promise made in support of your highest truth.

Sample sankalpas are “I am courageous” or “I have confidence,” or “My life is worthwhile.” Success is fortified by the fertile brain wave state experienced during yoga nidra and by staying with the same one from practice to practice until it becomes a reality and takes root. 

Benefits Of Yoga Nidra

Like most worthwhile things, regular practice yields the best results. Here are some benefits of practicing yoga nidra as described and documented in my book Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress Relief.

  • Activates the relaxation response and deactivates the stress response. This improves functioning of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (ANS) and the endocrine system (glands and hormones).
  • Improves your overall health.
  • One hour of yoga nidra practice is equivalent to 4 hours of sleep. Helps with insomnia.
  • Increases immunity and the ability to fight germs and infections. 1
  • Cellular rejuvenation and repair.
  • Improves heart functioning by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.2
  • Decreases pain.
  • Improved control of fluctuating blood glucose and symptoms associated with diabetes.3
  • Significant improvement of anxiety, depression and well-being was reported in patients with menstrual irregularities and having psychological problems.4
  • Manages pre- and post-surgical conditions. 5
  • Increases energy, especially when it’s needed most.
  • Transforms thoughts and feelings of separation into a direct experience of wholeness.

References   [ + ]

1.Kumar, Kamakhya. “The Healing Sleep.” Yoga Magazine (Body Mind Spirit) (2007)
2.Pranav, Pandya, and Kumar Kamakhya. “Yoga Nidra and its Impact on Human Physiology.” Yoga Vijnana 1, no. 1 (2007): 1-8.
3.Amita, S., S. Prabhakar, I. Manoj, S. Harminder, and T. Pavan. “Effect of yoga-nidra on blood glucose level in diabetic patients.” (2009).
4.Rani, Khushbu, S. C. Tiwari, Uma Singh, G. G. Agrawal, Archana Ghildiyal, and Neena Srivastava. “Impact of Yoga Nidra on psychological general wellbeing in patients with menstrual irregularities: A randomized controlled trial.” International journal of yoga 4, no. 1 (2011): 20.
5.Kumar, Kamakhya. A Handbook of Yoga Nidra. New Delhi: India. D.K. Printworld, 2013, p56
Julie Lusk
Star Expert

Julie Lusk, MEd, E-RYT 500, focuses on opening, balancing, and strengthening the body-mind-spirit connection through yoga, meditation, transformative relaxation, and guided imagery based on more than 30 years of experience. She is an internationally published author whose books include Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress Relief, and Yoga Meditations: Timeless Mind-Body Practices for Awakening. Julie is president of Wholesome Resources. The retreats, trainings, and seminars she presents are relaxing, reflective and revitalizing. She is talented in bringing the best out in others through her depth of knowledge, natural lightheartedness, and caring nature.

Julie Lusk
Star Expert

Julie Lusk, MEd, E-RYT 500, focuses on opening, balancing, and strengthening the body-mind-spirit connection through yoga, meditation, transformative relaxation, and guided imagery based on more than 30 years of experience. She is an internationally published author whose books include Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress Relief, and Yoga Meditations: Timeless Mind-Body Practices for Awakening. Julie is president of Wholesome Resources. The retreats, trainings, and seminars she presents are relaxing, reflective and revitalizing. She is talented in bringing the best out in others through her depth of knowledge, natural lightheartedness, and caring nature.

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