The Sleep of the Gods: Better Sleep, Better Life with Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep, is a practice that brings an individual into a state of deep relaxation while maintaining a sense of alertness.

Often, this is described as that stage between waking and sleep, where we are still conscious of the world around us and what is happening in our minds, but have—to a large degree—let go of our active control of both. It is in this state that we are able to connect wholly with Divinity.

Yoga Nidra: A brief history

“Yoga Nidra is the yoga of aware sleep. In this lies the secret of self-healing. Yoga Nidra is a pratyahara technique in which the distractions of the mind are contained and the mind is relaxed.” ~ Swami Satyananda Saraswati

While the more formalized practice of yoga nidra is a fairly modern innovation, the concept of yoga nidra can be found in many ancient Sanskrit texts. In particular, the origin of yoga nidra comes from one of the Hindu creation myths.

In this story, Vishnu, the Supreme Being, lies on the ocean of consciousness in a deep sleep, in Yog nidra. Brahma grows from his navel in the form of a lotus flower, and when Brahma awakens, a universe is manifested.

Using the teachings he received from these scriptures, Satyananda created a method to access this particular stage between waking and sleep. He used this technique on the younger aspirants in the ashram where he lived, and it is said that he taught them several languages while they rested in yoga nidra.

What does Yoga Nidra practice look like?

“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.” ~ Earl Nightingale

A typical yoga nidra session can last from anywhere between 20 minutes to about an hour. The practitioner spends the entire practice lying in savasana, with their eyes closed. Ideally, a teacher is present. However, there are lots of high-quality recordings that can be used in the comfort of your own home, which are also hugely beneficial.

The practice of yoga nidra will take you through several stages. First, is preparing the body for the practice through relaxation, and awareness of mind, body, and breath. After this, you’ll repeat a Sankalpa, or resolve; this is a very short, present tense, positive statement of something you wish to bring into your life. It can also be thought of as developing a clear intention, for example, “I am happy,” or “I am healthy.”

Then, the teacher will guide you through manifesting opposite sensations in the body (such as cold and hot, heavy and light). This, too, increases bodily awareness and also develops your ability to induce relaxation in a variety of circumstances.

After moving through 3-4 sets of opposite sensations, you will go through a series of easy visualizations. For example, envisioning a snowy mountain, a single candle, a deserted beach. Finally, we move back to the Sankalpa in order to more firmly place that positive intention into the conscious and subconscious.

At this point, you will be led gradually back into a fully waking state of consciousness. This element of the practice is taken slowly because after being immersed in yoga nidra, quickly hopping back into daily life could be very disorienting.

Benefits of Yoga Nidra

“Most people sleep without resolving their tensions. This is termed Nidra. Nidra means sleep, no matter what or why, but yoga Nidra means sleep after throwing off the burdens. It is of a blissful, higher quality altogether.” ~ Swami Satyananda

While you may not be able to pick up Spanish after a session of yoga nidra, there are numerous reasons to build a regular practice into your life. First and foremost, yoga nidra is a relaxation process. It’s no secret that stress is a major contributor to illness — both physical and emotional — and that we live in a pretty stressful world.

Many of us are in a state of constant sympathetic response. That is, our bodies are stuck in fight, flight, or freeze, pumping cortisol into our systems just as a matter of course. Yoga nidra activates the parasympathetic nervous system and begins to bring the body back into a state of equilibrium.

yoga nidra

This is good not just for sleep, but for waking life, as well. By releasing those tensions, we can interact with ourselves, others, and our work with more clarity and ease.

Another benefit of releasing those tensions is an increase in creativity. Imagine you are holding your hand under a stream of rice. By closing your hands, you grasp some of the grains tightly, but new rice — new ideas and perspectives — can’t get into your palm.

When your hand is open, however, those old grains can move on, making room for new grains. The same is true with your mind. Holding tight to negative patterns of thought means there isn’t room for newness and goodness to flow through.

Building a Yoga Nidra practice

“The very heart of yoga practice is abhyasa—steady effort in the direction you want to go.” ~ Sally Kempton

In a perfectly ideal situation, yoga nidra will be practiced daily. This would allow for regular, deep relaxation, and would give your Sankalpa more opportunity to root deeply so it can manifest in your life. However, an hour a day isn’t something many of us can commit to, and finding a teacher who offers yoga nidra can be challenging.

Instead, start with a shorter, less frequent practice at home. Carve out twenty minutes, two or three times a week, when you can have uninterrupted time to yourself. Spotify and Insight Timer both have dozens of yoga nidra recordings available for free. You’ll want to explore a little to find a teacher whose voice and style resonate with you.

For starters, though, here are a few of my favorites.

⁃ On Spotify: Anything by Robin Carnes. Her voice is soothing, and her directions are clear and well-timed.

⁃ On Spotify: Yoga Nidra for Sleep from Tripura Yoga. This is specifically designed to help you get to sleep and does not include a process to wake up. Great for insomnia.

⁃ On Insight Timer: Yoga Nidra Chakra from Rachelle Tersigni. Not a fully traditional yoga Nidra, but beneficial for helping clear the chakras.

⁃ On Insight Timer: Yoga Nidra from Joanne Jackett. Thorough, and beautiful, with lots of description so you can really grasp the practice. Great for beginners.

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Is Yoga Nidra Your Meditation Secret Weapon?

There is a brief time as we drift from consciousness into sleep where we start to let go. Our thoughts become untethered, reality warps and we might have strange little dreams. We usually pass through this in-between state on our journey to deep sleep within minutes and rarely give it much thought.

But artists like Salvador Dali and inventors like Thomas Edison recognized this borderland as a font of creativity and an aid for problem solving. Both men worked to induce the state by napping with an object — keys, marbles or ball bearings — in their hands. Before they could slip into full, deep sleep, the object would clatter to the ground, waking them. Scientists call this state of lucid dreaming the hypnagogic state. Yogis call it yoga nidra.

WHAT IS YOGIC SLEEP?

Yoga nidra, or yogic sleep, is a powerful meditation technique that prompts the body to relax deeply while the mind remains inwardly alert. Yoga nidra works by guiding you through the four main stages of consciousness or the four main stages of brain activity — beta, alpha, theta and delta.

The practice triggers the parasympathetic or “rest and digest” state, which allows the body to relax, repair and heal. Beyond that, yogis believe this paradoxical state between consciousness and sleep fosters self-exploration and healing.

Researchers acknowledge greater studies are needed to fully understand the benefits of yoga nidra, but initial studies show improvement in PMS symptoms, diminished stress and anxiety and stabilized blood glucose levels in diabetics. And, the many studies supporting the benefits of meditation also apply to yoga nidra because it is a form of meditation.

HOW TO PRACTICE YOGA NIDRA

Yoga nidra is typically guided, but if you don’t have access to a class or don’t want to practice in a studio there are several guided online sessionsonline podcasts and videos that work well.

To practice, you’ll begin by lying on the floor or your bed in shavasana pose. You may want a blanket over you to keep warm or a bolster under your knees for support. You want to be as comfortable as possible so you can stay in this position for 30 minutes. The practice can be as short as five minutes and as long as an hour, but a half hour is ideal.

In a traditional yoga class the instructor cues poses and body alignment, in a yoga nidra session the teacher guides you through the stages of consciousness.

Perhaps the best part of the practice is it’s completely accessible. Intense vinyasa flows are not for everyone. Many struggle with meditation. But with yoga nidra, all you have to do is lie down and follow the voice guiding you.

8 Limbs Yoga | Yoga Nidra, Yoga Bliss

The monthly Yoga Nidra, Yoga Bliss workshop is a potently relaxing combination of self-massage followed by Yoga Nidra (Yogic sleep). Self-massage is an empowering and effective method for decreasing chronic patterns of tension-holding in the body. Less tension = improved circulation, less pain, more oxygen, increased freedom of movement (including the life-giving movement of the breath) and a greater sense of wellbeing.

Yoga Nidra is a systematic process of deepening relaxation– an internal, meditative yoga that happens while your body is completely supported and still. It is said that one hour of Yoga Nidra is more restful than four hours of normal sleep! When we remove stressors, the body relaxes and the immune system can function more efficiently. Vitality and vibrant health are supported. We have more energy to do the things we want to do! Another key element of this practice is the combination of relaxation with Sankalpa. A Sankalpa is a positive statement or intention that invites us to transform our lives, our very beings, as we look inside and ask ourselves the question “what does my heart desire?” This is such an important question to ask, and to ask often. When coupled with relaxation, an intention can sink deep into our subconscious, where the secret to lasting sustainable change resides. 

Please join us for this monthly celebration of self-care rituals. Bring a friend. No previous experience necessary. Wear comfortable clothes (think pajamas) and leave the belts and uncomfortable bras behind. We have a limited amount of blankets, mats, and eye pillows available at the studio, if you have your own, bring them.

Yoga Nidra, Yoga Bliss takes place on the 2nd Sunday of the month. Save the date for these upcoming workshops: April 14, and May 12, (no March workshop).

Sunday, February 24, 12:15 – 2:00PM

What Is Yoga Nidra & Why Is It An Effective Way To Relax?

Why Is Yoga Nidra A Powerful Way To Relax

Yoga Nidra is one of the deepest states of relaxation your body can be in while maintaining full consciousness. You remain in a state of lucid dreaming, are cognizant of your dream environment, but have little or no awareness of your actual environment.

This process conserves and consolidates your energy for yoga practices. It also relaxes the system and prepares it for meditation and Pranayama. It is essential you make time for Yoga Nidra amidst your other workout practices.

Everything You Need To Know About Yoga Nidra

Getting Ready For Yoga Nidra

When you are in this deep state of restoration and relaxation, you direct your attention to the different parts of your body, and this activates the nerves in those areas. It also helps your body accept and integrate the benefits of the Yoga asanas that you just practiced. It lasts for anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes.

You usually do the Yoga Nidra post your yoga workout, and it is best to cover yourself or keep your body warm while doing this. The body temperature drops in the process, and you might end up feeling cold. So keep a blanket handy.

It can be practiced on its own too, but it is not advisable to do it after lunch because you might end up taking a nap.

Make sure you practice the relaxing yoga in a peaceful place where there is no clutter or disturbance.

 

How To Do The Yoga Nidra

 

  1. Close your eyes. Place your legs such that they are comfortably apart. Make sure your legs relax completely, and your toes face sidewards. Your arms must be placed along your body, but slightly apart, leaving your palms open and facing upwards.
  1. Make sure that you breathe slowly, yet deeply. This will impart complete relaxation. As you breathe in, your body will be energized, and as you breathe out, your body will calm down. Focus on yourself and your body, forgetting all your other tasks. Let go and surrender!
  1. In case you feel uncomfortable or find pain or discomfort in your lower back, just use a pillow to elevate your legs. This will give you more comfort.
  1. Once you are perfectly comfortable, start from the bottom. Drive your attention towards your right foot. Relax your foot completely and let your attention revolve around your foot for a few seconds. Then, move to your right knee, your right thigh, and the whole right leg. Do the same thing for the left leg.

 

  1. Let your attention be drawn to your entire body, your genitals, your stomach, your navel, the chest, the shoulders, arms, throat, face, and the crown.
  1. Breathe deeply and slowly and observe all the sensations in the body. Relax completely. Stay in this state of relaxation for a few minutes.
  1. Once your body is fully relaxed, become aware of your surroundings. Then, slowly turn to your right with your eyes closed. Lie down on your right for a couple of minutes.
  1. When you are comfortable, sit up slowly, and gently open your eyes.

 

Benefits Of Yoga Nidra

The Yoga Nidra has many benefits. But these are its main advantages.

  1. It cools down the body after an intense Yoga workout and restores the normal temperature of the body.
  1. It ensures activation of the nervous system and helps the body to absorb the benefits of the asanas.
  1. It flushes out the toxins from the body.
  1. It helps rest and relax during pregnancy.

Yoga Nidra Vs. Meditation

Yoga Nidra is not really the same thing as the meditation. While you do the Nidra, you lie down and go into a semi-hypnotic state, a state between being awake and asleep.

However, when you are meditating, you sit with your spine erect and are more alert and aware than when you are in the Yoga Relax Nidra.

This is almost like preparation for meditation. It is the practice of the sense of withdrawal that actually prepares you to go into the state of meditation. Your attention is drawn inwards, and your mind and body are calmed down, so much so that you reach the mental state of meditation.

For most people today, it is extremely hard to meditate, simply because we are so busy and restless that it is difficult to sit still and silent for long periods. When you master the Yoga Nidra, it will automatically help you take on the challenges of meditating, and soon, you will be able to meditate with ease.

General Tips To Do The Yoga Nidra

  1. It is only natural to have random thoughts and be distracted by them while you are in the Nidra. Do not curb them. Also, do not feel guilty if you fall asleep during the practice.
  1. Play some gentle music – either soft chants or instrumental music – before you start the Yoga Relax Nidra. It will help you relax. But this is not a must because you will eventually relax to your own internal rhythm.
  1. Don’t miss the step of turning over on your right and sitting up after a few minutes. When you are on the right side, it helps your breath flow through the left nostril, and therefore, your body cools down.

Now that you know how to do Yoga Nidra, what are you waiting for? The Yoga Nidra is just as refreshing as a good nap. It refreshes and rejuvenates you like no amount of caffeine can. Indulge and enjoy!

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Brain waves & Yoga nidra – Paolo da Floresta

Brain waves

&

Yoga Nidra



It’s important to understand how your brain contributes to the state of your mind. While most of us focus on looking at our emotions in an attempt to become happier, more spiritual beings, our brains waves and our subconscious mind also play a key part in our quest for fulfillment.

We easily forget that we are the controllers of our reality – and that “our reality” is not made up of outside influences, but that it actually consists of our thoughts, beliefs and mindset.

Therefore, by learning about the deeper states of consciousness, you can open your subconscious mind and create your reality at will, and with precision. To do this, the first step is understanding your different brain frequencies. Did you know that we all have five (Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta and Gamma), and each frequency is measured in cycles per second (Hz) and has its own set of characteristics representing a specific level of brain activity and a unique state of consciousness?


One particular brain wave will be dominant depending on the state of consciousness that you are in.

For example, if you are awake, but have really bad ADHD, you may have more slow wave (alpha and/or theta) activity than beta waves. During sleep usually there are combinations of the slower frequencies, but even gamma has been found to be involved in rapid-eye movement (REM).


Gamma waves

These are involved in higher processing tasks as well as cognitive functioning. Gamma waves are important for learning, memory and information processing. It is thought that the 40 Hz gamma wave is important for the binding of our senses in regards to perception and are involved in learning new material. It has been found that individuals who are mentally challenged and have learning disabilities tend to have lower gamma activity than average.

  • Frequency range: 40 Hz to 100 Hz (Highest)
  • Too much: Anxiety, high arousal, stress
  • Too little: ADHD, depression, learning disabilities
  • Optimal: Binding senses, cognition, information processing, learning, perception, REM sleep
  • Increase gamma waves: Meditation

This range is the most recently discovered and is the fastest frequency at above 40Hz. While little is known about this state of mind, initial research shows Gamma waves are associated with bursts of insight and high-level information processing.


Beta waves

These are known as high frequency low amplitude brain waves that are commonly observed while we are awake. They are involved in conscious thought, logical thinking, and tend to have a stimulating affect. Having the right amount of beta waves allows us to focus and complete school or work-based tasks easily. Having too much beta may lead to us experiencing excessive stress and/or anxiety. The higher beta frequencies are associated with high levels of arousal. When you drink caffeine or have another stimulant, your beta activity will naturally increase. Think of these as being very fast brain waves that most people exhibit throughout the day in order to complete conscious tasks such as: critical thinking, writing, reading, and socialization.

  • Frequency range: 12 Hz to 40 Hz (High)
  • Too much: Adrenaline, anxiety, high arousal, inability to relax, stress
  • Too little: ADHD, daydreaming, depression, poor cognition
  • Optimal: Conscious focus, memory, problem solving
  • Increase beta waves: Coffee, energy drinks, various stimulants

While Beta brain waves are important for effective functioning throughout the day, they also can translate into stress, anxiety and restlessness.

The voice of Beta can be described as being that nagging little inner critic that gets louder the higher you go into range. Therefore, with a majority of adults operate at Beta; it’s little surprise that stress is today’s most common health problem.


Alpha waves

This frequency range bridges the gap between our conscious thinking and subconscious mind. In other words, alpha is the frequency range between beta and theta. It helps us calm down when necessary and promotes feelings of deep relaxation. If we become stressed, a phenomenon called “alpha blocking” may occur which involves excessive beta activity and very little alpha. Essentially the beta waves “block” out the production of alpha because we become too aroused.

  • Frequency range: 8 Hz to 12 Hz (Moderate)
  • Too much: Daydreaming, inability to focus, too relaxed
  • Too little: Anxiety, high stress, insomnia, OCD
  • Optimal: Relaxation
  • Increase alpha waves: Alcohol, marijuana, relaxants, some antidepressants

Alpha brain waves are present in deep relaxation and usually when the eyes are closed, when you’re slipping into a lovely daydream or during light meditation. It is an optimal time to program the mind for success and it also heightens your imagination, visualization, memory, learning and concentration.

It is the gateway to your subconscious mind and lies at the base of your conscious awareness. The voice of Alpha is your intuition, which becomes clearer and more profound the closer you get to 7.5Hz.


Theta waves

This particular frequency range is involved in daydreaming and sleep. Theta waves are connected to us experiencing and feeling deep and raw emotions. Too much theta activity may make people prone to bouts of depression and may make them “highly suggestible” based on the fact that they are in a deeply relaxed, semi-hypnotic state. Theta has its benefits of helping improve our intuition, creativity, and makes us feel more natural. It is also involved in restorative sleep. As long as theta isn’t produced in excess during our waking hours, it is a very helpful brain wave range.

  • Frequency range: 4 Hz to 8 Hz (Slow)
  • Too much: ADHD, depression, hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattentiveness
  • Too little: Anxiety, poor emotional awareness, stress
  • Optimal: Creativity, emotional connection, intuition, relaxation
  • Increase theta waves: Depressants

It is said that a sense of deep spiritual connection and unity with the universe can be experienced at Theta. Your mind’s most deep-seated programs are at Theta and it is where you experience vivid visualizations, great inspiration, profound creativity and exceptional insight. Unlike your other brain waves, the elusive voice of Theta is a silent voice.

It is at the Alpha-Theta border, from 7Hz to 8Hz, where the optimal range for visualization, mind programming and using the creative power of your mind begins. It’s the mental state which you consciously create your reality. At this frequency, you are conscious of your surroundings however your body is in deep relaxation.


Delta waves

These are the slowest recorded brain waves in human beings. They are found most often in infants as well as young children. As we age, we tend to produce less delta even during deep sleep. They are associated with the deepest levels of relaxation and restorative, healing sleep. They have also been found to be involved in unconscious bodily functions such as regulating heart beat and digestion. Adequate production of delta waves helps us feel completely rejuvenated after we wake up from a good night’s sleep. If there is abnormal delta activity, an individual may experience learning disabilities or have difficulties maintaining conscious awareness (such as in cases of brain injuries).

  • Frequency range: 0 Hz to 4 Hz (Slowest)
  • Too much: Brain injuries, learning problems, inability to think, severe ADHD
  • Too little: Inability to rejuvenate body, inability to revitalize the brain, poor sleep
  • Optimal: Immune system, natural healing, restorative / deep sleep
  • Increase delta waves: Depressants, sleep

Delta is the realm of your unconscious mind, and the gateway to the universal mind and the collective unconscious, where information received is otherwise unavailable at the conscious level.

Among many things, deep sleep is important for the healing process – as it’s linked with deep healing and regeneration. Hence, not having enough deep sleep is detrimental to your health in more ways than one.


Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is a unique marriage of science and spirit, combining alert awareness and deepest relaxation. It takes your brain to the alpha state and eventually the even deeper theta wave state. Here, without effort or strain, you are able to tap into your own source of intuition, creativity, health and abundance.

Yoga Nidra is practiced in a comfortable lying down position. You are guided through a series of breathing exercises and simple instructions. Some of these include visual imagery or a scan of the body, which occupies the mind and prevents it from becoming involved in the usual mind-chatter that absorbs our ordinary consciousness. Within a short time, you become submerged in the alpha state, where brain rhythms drop into the silent space within. Once your body is relaxed and your mind is calm, all energies are focused on the Third Eye, the inner sanctuary located between the eyebrows. Here you are simultaneously able to access both the logical left brain and the intuitive, insightful right brain. This naturally and effortlessly brings you into integration, where you experience deep relaxation yet remain aware and conscious.

Modern science now confirms what yogis discovered thousands of years ago: that focusing on the Third Eye reactivates hormones located in the pineal gland in center of the brain. Studies confirm that the pineal gland hormone, melatonin, is a powerful agent in helping prevent illness, retard premature aging, reduce stress, induce more restful sleep, boost the immune system, and promote healing. Research has proven the benefits of this technique on lowering stress and promoting overall health.


Stress is the biggest problem of modern life. We carry tensions both within the physical body and on even deeper levels in the subtle bodies which we are not even aware of. While physical tension can be eased by stretching, exercise or massage, subtle tensions are difficult to recognize and even harder to release. Yoga Nidra is a unique method that goes below surface tensions to release and transform stress at its deepest level.

Normal waking brain activity produces the faster, fragmented beta waves. The waking state also engages the sympathetic nervous system which reacts to stimulus and the secretion of adrenaline. Chronic engagement of this state forcing the right brain and parasympathetic nervous system to progressively become more dormant.

Yoga Nidra allows you to drop into a sleep-like state with relaxed brainwave activity. Slow alpha waves, and even slower theta waves, produce deep relaxation and are the entry points to the subconscious. In this state, you can make a conscious crossover from the logical left brain to the intuitive right brain, connected to the field of conscious pranic intelligence, where intention is carried out spontaneously and effortlessly.

One purpose of yoga and Yoga Nidra is to initiate the integrative process that balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and the left and right brain.


Yoga Nidra is also a wonderful remedy for anxiety and insomnia, when practiced just before sleep at night.


Guided Yoga Nidra for sleep     http://www.doyogawithme.com/content/yoga-nidra-sleep

Jennifer Piercy takes you through a beautifully designed Yoga Nidra for Sleep meditation. Her deeply calming voice penetrates into your very soul, instilling a sense of internal peace and leaving you feeling incredibly relaxed, present and rejuvenated.

Yoga Nidra for a good nights sleep    http://www.yoganidranetwork.org/mp3/yoga-nidra-good-night-sleep

Specially designed not to wake you up at the end, so you can continue to sleep after the practice. Has been developed through Nirlipta’s personal journey with insomnia.


 

Your Brain on Yoga Nidra

Learn what’s going on with your brain waves when you sink into a yoga nidra practice and why it leaves you feeling so refreshed.

Each time you practice yoga nidra meditation, you’re stilling the waves of the mind through conscious entry into the sleep state. How?

Yoga Nidra and Your Brain Waves

You start with sensing the body and breathing in specific ways in order to trigger the relaxation response. The relaxation response balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and balances the left and right brain. In the process, your brain shifts from beta, an awakened state with lots of brain activity, to alpha, a more relaxed state. In alpha, the mood-regulating hormone serotonin gets released, and this calms you down. People who spend little time in an alpha brain-wave state have more than those who spend more time in alpha. Think of a car: if you want to stop and turn off the engine, you first need to downshift. Shifting your brain into an alpha state starts its process of “powering down,” or coming into a rest state with slower, restorative brain-wave activity.

From alpha, you go into a deep alpha and high theta brain-wave state, the dream state, REM sleep. In theta, your thoughts slow down to 4 to 8 thoughts per second. This is where super learning happens. Kids and artists experience a lot more theta activity in their brains. Emotional integration and release also happen here, and structures in the brain change. It’s here that some people sometimes have random thoughts or see images. A person in theta may see colors or visions or hear the voice of a person talking yet at the same time not hear this voice. It’s where you being to enter the gap of nothingness.

After theta, you are guided to delta, where your thoughts are only 1 to 3.9 thoughts per second. This is the most state, in which your organs regenerate and the stress hormone cortisol is removed from your system.

When you’re put under anesthesia, you’re put into a delta brain-wave state. People in comas are also in a delta brain-wave state, which gives their bodies a chance to restore their systems. In our culture, very few people are going into the deep states of sleep like theta and delta on a regular basis, and as a consequence, our bodies are not powering down and getting the chance to restore themselves. Depressed people go to beta and alpha states, but rarely go to theta and delta.

See also Elena Brower’s 10-Minute Yoga Nidra to Alleviate Stress

The Fourth State of Consciousness You Can Access Through Yoga Nidra 

From delta, the guided yoga nidra experience takes you down into an even deeper brain-wave state—one that can’t be reached through conventional sleep. In this fourth state of consciousness, below delta, your brain is thoughtless. This state is sort of like a complete loss of consciousness, but you are awake. This state is one of such a deep surrender, where your consciousness is so far away from the physical body, that living here every day would be difficult. Not everyone who practices yoga nidra touches this state, but the more you practice, the more you’ll receive glimpses of it.

After you touch into the fourth state of consciousness, you are guided back to a waking state. Again, you couldn’t live in this fourth state, but as a result of touching into it, you bring a little of its peace back with you to your waking, everyday brain state. You also are able to rewire your thoughts and emotions because your subconscious mind in this fourth state is fertile, more open to intentions and affirmations, than it is when you are in your waking state. As a consequence, in your everyday life, you begin to rest more and more in the space between emotions and thoughts, and this resting in this space gives rise to a sense of freedom, where you are not triggered so much by the stuff in your life.

Plus, in yoga nidra meditation, you are often asked to bring your attention to the space between your eyebrows—a spot known as the third eye. Behind this spot lies the pineal gland, and this gland is stimulated when you bring your attention there. Studies confirm that the pineal-gland hormone, melatonin, is a powerful agent for reducing stress, inducing more restful sleep, and boosting the immune system, which helps prevent illness, promote healing, and slow premature aging.

See also Meditation Made Easier: Try Guided Yoga Nidra

The Benefits of Yoga Nidra

While yoga nidra is not a substitute for sleep, the number one reason most women I know say yes to yoga nidra is that it’s widely touted that 45 minutes of yogic sleep feels like 3 hours of regular sleep. There’s some debate over the science that backs this up, but it is likely this effect is due to the series of brain-wave changes experienced during yoga nidra. In my work, I hear women tell me all the time that they wake up deeply refreshed after practicing yoga nidra and that yoga nidra helps them fall asleep and get back to sleep at night. Who can say no to sleep?

As you can imagine, feeling well rested is life changing, but yoga nidra also improves your overall health. A 2013 study showed that practicing yoga nidra improved anxiety, depression, and overall well-being for women experiencing menstrual irregularities and psychological problems. I’ve worked with many women who have had tremendous success using yoga nidra to help them manage pre- and post-surgical operations and decrease pain. And even more science points to how yoga nidra can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and improve blood glucose fluctuations and symptoms associated with diabetes.

The explosion of studies supporting the benefits of meditation also apply to yoga nidra, because yoga nidra is a form of meditation. Both meditation and yoga nidra help activate the relaxation response and improve the functioning of your nervous system and endocrine system, which affects your hormones. Both meditation and yoga nidra help cells regenerate and repair, and both help decrease anxiety and improve your mood.

Women tell me all the time how practicing yoga nidra meditation has positively impacted their family life. One mother who was checked out of her life due to exhaustion now practices yoga nidra and says that she is using more loving speech to herself, her children and her spouse, and parenting from a more peaceful place. In general, another woman who felt imprisoned by her anxiety tells me she is now able to lead a full life with her family from a calm place. It’s clear to me that women get their family and freedom back when they practice yoga nidra regularly.

See also Discover the Peaceful Practice of Yoga Nidra

Excerpted from DARING TO REST: Reclaim Your Power with Yoga Nidra Rest Meditation by Karen Brody. Sounds True, November 2017. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author
Karen Brody is a speaker and the founder of Daringtorest.com, a company offering yoga nidra meditation for the modern women via downloadable products and trainings. Karen had a long personal history of severe panic attacks until she found yoga nidra meditation over a decade ago. At that time, she was a sleep-deprived mother of two small children on anti-anxiety medication. She signed up for a yoga nidra meditation class simply looking to lie down for a nap. What she got was “the best nap of her life.” As she continued to practice yoga nidra regularly, her deep fatigue lifted; she wrote a critically acclaimed play, got off anti-anxiety pills, and started to teach this yoga nidra “power nap” to every exhausted mother she knew.