Sleep Peacefully with Yoga Nidra
Hello folks. I hope you are staying safe and at the best of your health while reading this. Today we will be discussing ‘Yoga Nidra’, the one-stop solution for all your sleep-related problems, anxiety, stress, and depression. A solution for all the major bodily problems, be it physical or mental. But before we discuss the effectiveness of ‘Yoga Nidra’, let’s dive deep into the problems and why practicing Yoga Nidra is a must for every single human on this planet.
These are unprecedented times and we are fighting an enemy we cannot see. A virus has changed the way our world functions. What started as a mole is turning out to be a mountain. Many things have changed during this pandemic under the #NewNormal and it is taking a toll on our bodies, especially our sleep cycle. Our sleep cycle is more messed up than ever and it is not something that must be taken lightly. It is no brainer that sleep plays a vital role in maintaining our physical as well as mental health. Having enough sleep puts our bodies at ease and lowers the risk of blood pressure. It is very crucial considering the number of people suffering from heart attacks and strokes due to high blood pressure in their veins.
A huge chunk of people today is suffering from sleep-related problems, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. While some are unable to sleep because they are swamped with work, others are unable to sleep because they do not have work! Children are loaded with online classes and assignments which makes it extremely difficult for them to give their bodies the rest it needs. It is very important to understand that work or no work, a regular sleep routine is a basic necessity of a body. As fascinating as it may sound but it is a scientifically proven fact that sleeping for 7 hours a day can cure 90% of health-related issues.
Let’s take q quick look at some staggering statistics:
According to the National Institute of Health, around 30% of the general population suffers from sleep disruption.
About 25% of adults have trouble sleeping due to stress and anxiety.
People with insomnia are 30% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
Almost 40 million Americans suffer from chronic Insomnia.
75% of people suffering from depression have insomnia
Now that we have established what lack of sleep can do to your body, let us discuss the solution.
Yoga at the rescue!
Time and again, Yoga has rescued humanity from all kinds of bodily problems and helped lead a peaceful and healthy life. Be it physical or mental, yoga has the solution for every problem in the book. Yoga is not an exercise routine; it is a way of life. The main reason that yoga works are a combination of physical and mental calmness. While there is no substitute for a good night's sleep, there is a particular combination of meditation and yoga that comes close, it Yoga Nidra. We will be discussing Yoga Nidra which is a scientifically proven antidote to anxiety, stress, and depression.
Before you read further, if you or anyone of your loved ones is suffering from chronic stress and anxiety, check out this article on the most effective yoga poses for stress relief and anxiety.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is a sleep-based meditation technique that is really based on the biology of your own body. Yoga Nidra is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Yogic Sleep’ or ‘Psychic Sleep’. It is a state of consciousness between sleeping and waking; an immensely powerful meditation technique wherein the body is completely relaxed. In Yoga Nidra, we are emptying the contents of the mind by entering a profoundly deep state of consciousness. Yoga Nidra trains your body and mind for this relaxation process so you can reach a deeper state of sleep. It slows down the wavelengths in your mind as you enter a state of half-sleep. You start with sensing each and every part of your body along with mindful breathing to trigger the relaxation response in your body, leaving you in a state of complete bliss. The most beautiful part of Yoga Nidra is that it is effortless. You don’t need to try because your body already knows how to do it. It is believed that 45 minutes of Yoga Nidra is as restorative as 3 hours of sleep.
The Science behind Yoga Nidra!
Let's understand what goes on in your brain while you are practicing Yoga Nidra.
When you begin Yoga Nidra, your brain is at Beta waves which are basically like a busy street inside your brain! Lots of brain activity and continuous thoughts. From Beta, your brain shifts to Alpha waves, where the mood-enhancing serotonin is released and you enter a more relaxed state with a calm mind. As you are moving to the alpha state, you are slowing down the brain activity and entering a state of rest. From Alpha, you go into a theta brain wave state, which is commonly referred to as “the dream state”. Here in this state, your thoughts continue to slow down even more. It is a state of emotional integration; we release the emotions that no longer serve us. From Theta, you reach the final stage of Yoga Nidra which, the delta brain-wave state. This is considered the most blissful and restorative phase. In the delta brain wave state, your organs regenerate and the stress hormone is moved out of your system.
However, as blissful as it may sound, very few people are able to enter the delta brain wave state under normal circumstances. The delta state is equivalent to the state of your brain when it’s under anesthesia. Most of us aren’t able to enter this delta state which means we are not our bodies to regenerate fully. And that is why adapting Yoda Nidra is so important for your self-care practices.
Steps for Yoga Nidra:
To begin with, lie down straight on your back with your arms stretched out by the sides. Palms facing upwards.
Close your eyes. Take slow deep breaths. Try to relax your body as much as you can.
Now start by driving your attention to your right foot. You will feel your foot loosen up as you draw your attention towards it.
Then gently bring your attention to the right knee, stay here for a few seconds, and move to the right thigh followed by the right hip. Rotate your awareness through your right leg. You will feel like your entire right leg is trying to loosen up. Embrace it.
Now gently repeat this process for the left leg. Our goal here is to draw attention to all the parts of the body.
Now move your attention to your right shoulders followed by right elbows, right arms, wrists, palms, and fingers in progression. And repeat the same for your left shoulder, elbow, arm, wrists, palms, and fingers.
Move your attention to your neck area, leading to the face and finally the top of the head.
As you breathe slowly, observe the sensations in your body. Relax in this state for few minutes.
After a few minutes, mentally prepare to return to ordinary consciousness by slowly becoming aware of your body and surroundings.
You may then slowly sit up and gradually open your eyes.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
Improves sleep - Also known as Yogic Sleep for supreme relaxation, Yoga Nidra slows down the wavelengths of your brain significantly, which in turn triggers the relaxation response of the body. This subtle shift to a more resting-state aligns the activity of your right and left brain hemispheres resulting in a more peaceful sleep.
Provided effective relief from depression and anxiety - While practicing Yoga Nidra, you become aware of the sensations in your body. You become more aware of the worries that hold you back. Daily practice results in reduced levels of stress, depression, and anxiety resulting in an uplifted mood and a positive attitude towards life.
Helps with creativity - When your body and mind are fresh, you tend to become more creative in every possible way. You find more creative ways to do simple tasks, simply because your brain is not dreaded by stress and anxiety.
Reduces Insomnia - Yoga Nidra is a practice that involves connecting deeper with your consciousness, at the same time letting go of all the distractions, leaving you far far away from problems like Insomnia.
Releases tension and pain - A simple act of lying down with mindful breathing and guided meditation has the potential to calm the nervous system beyond imagination. By soothing the nervous system, it helps you enter a parasympathetic state leaving behind all the tension and pain you feel in your body.
Allows you to connect with yourself - The most important benefit of Yoga Nidra, it allows you to connect with yourself. A complete rejuvenation package - it offers space in your mind, to explore the unchartered territories of your brain. It opens the window to your soul, leaving you with a reflective and restful experience.
Myths and Misconceptions
While there are numerous health benefits of Yoga, there also are several rumors floating around which need to be addressed. Yoga being an ancient technique, most people follow a wrong notion about the nature of yoga. Below mentioned are some of the most commonly heard myths about yoga, before you read further, please note that all the below mentions myths are completely baseless and do not find yourself believing in any of these myths and misconceptions
"Yoga can only be done early in the morning" - You can practice Yoga at any time of the day, just makes sure you have an empty stomach while practicing yoga.
"One must be flexible to perform yoga" - It is actually the other way round, regular practice of yoga makes your body more flexible. You can start with simple asanas that require minimal movements, and as you indulge deep into yoga, you will automatically find yourself doing expert level yoga asanas.
'"Yoga is time-consuming" - It is not at all necessary to spend hours performing yoga asanas. You can start slow with 20-30 minutes a day and gradually you can extend this if you have more time.
"Yoga is an exercise regime" - Yoga is anything but an exercise regime. It is a subtle way to calm your body and increase inner strength - the core strength of your body, which is more important than what we see on the outside.
"Yoga is only for a particular age group" - The best thing about yoga is that it can be practiced by any person irrespective of their age. All you need is dedication and regular practice, and you are all set.
From kids to adults to aging seniors, Yoga Nidra is accessible to all. Mainly because all you need to do is lie down, take deep breaths, and make yourself aware of all the parts of your body. It’s slow, simple, and requires minimal effort. This simple act of lying down is deeply soothing to your nervous system and helps you enter a state of complete bliss. The best part of Yoga Nidra is that you can never be wrong; even if you fall asleep, you are still doing it right. At the end of the day, all you need is a subtle awareness of your body, and with the help of Yoga Nidra, you can attain that state with minimal effort.