What is Yoga Nidra?

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra is a type of guided meditation designed to induce deep relaxation and deep rest that calms and heals. Yoga studies show this type of meditation practice can provide a number of health benefits including reduction of stress, ptsd, traumatic stress disorders, anxiety, and insomnia. You may have heard of Yoga Nidra referred to as yogic sleep, but it isn’t about sleeping but more of a extended savasana to create a powerful relaxation response for the practitioner. Its a great refuge from the stress and worry of daily life!

History of Yoga Nidra

Who developed Yoga Nidra? The famous and revered yoga master Swami Satyananda Saraswati is known to have developed Yoga Nidra. His book, called “Yoga Nidra,” is the primary resource on this deep relaxation technique. He explains, “I decided to construct a new system, called Yoga Nidra, which would incorporate the essence of these Tantric practices without any of the complicated ritualistic drawbacks.” Swami Satyananda Saraswati is also the author of other well-known and respected yoga books, including Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha. Yoga teacher Richard Millerhas also fathered the popularity of this meditation technique.

How Does Yoga Nidra Induce Deep Relaxation?

How does Yoga Nidra induce deep relaxation and a altered state of consciousness ? Clinical research found two significant ways Yoga Nidra induces relaxation and creates a state of hypnosis . First, it  increases the secretion of the neurotransmitter dopamine by 65%, according to a study from the J. F. K. Institute in Denmark published in Brain Research – Cognitive Brain Research.  The human brain naturally produces dopamine in response to many situations, but especially when something suddenly good happens. Yoga Nidra also induces deep relaxation and rest by decreasing blood flow to the parts of your brain known as the prefrontal, cerebellar and subcortical regions.

Tips for Your First Yoga Nidra Class

Here are some tips for your first Yoga Nidra meditation. First of all, get there early, so you can introduce yourself to the instructor and/or receptionist and tell them it’s your first class.  Getting there early also gives you time to arrange your space without rushing. During class, expect to lie quietly for about one hour and to follow the lead of the instructor. Although you remain still during the meditation, your class may begin with some gentle body movements. Wear loose comfortable clothing that you can comfortably enjoy the practice of yoga nidra. It is also recommended that you set a sankalpa or intention for your practice.

Accessories for Yoga Nidra Class

Basic accessories for a Yoga Nidra class are a yoga mat and blanket. Therefore, you probably don’t need to invest in accessories for your first class if it’s at a yoga studio, but you might want to call ahead and ask if you need to bring anything if the class is held at a community center or other venue. Here are some other accessories you might like to have if you attend Yoga Nigra class regularly. It’s nice to have your own yoga mat or a yoga towel to place over the provided yoga mat. Personally, I like having a mat with only my energy on it. Additionally a small pillow for your head, a blanket to keep you warm and an eye pillow to help you relax.

Yoga Nidra Contraindications

Although Yoga Nidra is designed for healing, there are contraindications. According to information from the University of Kentucky these include, but are not limited to, seizure disorders, lower back pain, restless leg syndrome and being “beyond the first trimester of pregnancy.” People with contraindications should check with their health professional before trying Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra Video

Check out the below yoga nidra video to be able to experience this deep integrative restoration and other powerful benefits of yoga nidra.

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