What is Yogic Sleep?
Yogic sleep, also known as Yoga Nidra, is a yoga practice that allows for you to completely disconnect from the world. The practice helps us quiet our minds and contributes to better sleep, less stress and anxiety, and a better sense of overall calm.
Yoga Nidra is helpful for anyone who suffers from stress and the inability to sleep well at night. You can practice anywhere where you can find a place to properly lie down and feel at ease, such as your bed, a couch, or your mat on the floor.
Avoid practicing right after a meal, as you may feel inclined to fall asleep as opposed to remaining on the threshold between sleep and wakefulness, or hypnopompic and hypnogogic states. An ideal time to practice, especially if you suffer from insomnia, is right before bed as it helps you relax and calm your mind.
You begin in corpse pose, then you close your eyes. Feel free to listen to a guided, relaxed mediation or something that you find soothing. Many different nature sounds—ocean waves, falling rain, or a crackling fire—are calming.
One hour of practice in yogic sleep is as restorative as three hours of regular sleep. When you come out of yogic sleep, you feel more rested and maintain a renewed sense of focus.
Yoga Nidra Benefits
- Relieves tension throughout the body.
- Relaxes the mind and decreases stress levels.
- Helps with insomnia.
- Can help increase memory and cognitive function.
- Increases physical energy levels.
- Aids in balancing endocrinal levels (hormone levels).
- Sharpens the ability to focus and engage create activities.
- Detoxifies the body.
Yoga Nidra Accessories
There are some great accessories out there to help you find peace that much more quickly. Eye pillows provide a great way to block out the light, especially if you are practicing in a well-lit room. Bolsters or pillows offer support for your head and your legs if you plan to lie on the ground for a while. If you think you might feel cold since your body temperature can lower during relaxation, try laying a blanket over your body to keep warm. Normally, in yoga, it is appropriate to be bare-foot; however, this is one situation where it is perfectly acceptable to keep on a comfortable pair of socks.
Setting an Affirmation
When you preform yogic sleep, you can tap into your subconscious, which can help you better navigate your abilities to change the way you think. You enter that part of your mind by setting an intention or affirmation before you begin. For example, if you have been suffering from low self-esteem after a breakup, perhaps you would like to affirm to yourself that “I am enough” each time you practice Yoga Nidra.
Set your affirmation in the present tense, as yoga practice is all about being in the present moment, and repeat your affirmation as needed. This resolve sets into your subconscious and enables deep change within your self-perception, mind, body, and soul.
Remind yourself during the process that you are awake and that you should focus on your affirmation or intention. If you are following a guided meditation, listen to and follow the instructions. Yoga Nidra is essentially an extended Savasana Pose in that it is important to remain awake with a clear mind.
Once you learn to harness the power of yogic sleep, continue your practice frequently to reap all the benefits of this wonderful calming sensation.