Who couldn’t use some extra shut-eye? Sleep is vital to our health and sleep experts tell us we need an average of eight hours at a shot. Even if there’s time for sleep, many of us have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. Yoga Nidra can help in replenishing ourselves, can be used as a natural sleep aid, and more.
Yoga Nidra means “yogic sleep.” It is when your body-mind is actually in deep sleep but with one big difference—you remain consciously aware. This is done by going through a series of techniques to systematically get physically, energetically, mentally, and emotionally relaxed. In addition, Yoga Nidra sparks intuition, unconditional joy, and a timeless, spacious sense of being. Witness consciousness is experienced and even surpassed. Due to the fertile brainwave states experienced, it’s also entirely possible to make positive behavior and personality changes.
Yoga Nidra’s Relationship to Sleep
While not a substitute for actual sleep, one hour of Yoga Nidra practice is equivalent to four hours of sleep. This is due to the series of brain waves experienced along the way (Saraswati 1998, Kumar 2008). With practice, you’ll eventually be able to enter the delta brainwave state but remain aware. It resembles what it feels like to be on the verge of being awake and asleep. The conscious experience of deep sleep is what makes it so restorative and unique.
Yoga Nidra can also be practiced at bedtime as a sleep aid. Layer after layer of stress is cleared out so it doesn’t follow you to bed and disturb sleeping. Using Yoga Nidra techniques as a sleep aid should not be confused with the Yoga Nidra experience itself. Be careful or you will find it difficult to practice Yoga Nidra itself and will fall into deep sleep instead.
Yogic sleep is also a play on words of sorts. It refers to how most of us are walking around “asleep” and unaware of our True Self, the indestructible aspect in each of us that is already peaceful, joyful, wise, soulful, luminous, and loving. Whereas the yogi is awake to one’s True Self no matter what the state of consciousness—waking, dreaming, deep sleep. Realizing this enables us to recognize the true nature of oneself and reality so we are not swayed by the changeability and unpredictability of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and such. Yoga Nidra helps us experience and realize this.