Yoga Nidra, also known as "yogic sleep," is a relaxation technique that combines guided mental imagery with a specific yoga posture called Shavasana (or "corpse pose"). The goal of yoga nidra is to promote a profound state of relaxation, which differs from sleep inasmuch as there is still an awareness of one's surroundings. This practice of lying down for about 10 to 30, sometimes even as long as 60 minutes, is done while listening to an audio script that takes the individual through a progressive deep relaxation. It involves a body scan, some long exhale breathing and is considered to be very restorative as one tends to emerge from yoga nidra feeling greatly refreshed compared to how they felt prior to it.
The practice of yoga nidra has been known since ancient times, but it was not until the 1960s that an updated and systematized system of practice was introduced to the public through the writings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Unlike other schools of yoga, which emphasize concentration or contemplation, yoga nidra's goal is complete relaxation. As such, its advocates claim that it is suitable for all individuals, from beginners to advanced practitioners of yoga. The calm inner stillness induced by yoga nidra is claimed by practitioners to be an effective stress management tool as well as a means for attaining greater receptivity to personal resolutions. These resolutions can range from the goal of achieving self-transformation, enhancing creativity, or improving one's learning ability. Additionally, yoga nidra is claimed to promote beneficial changes in physiological and mental health.
Clinical studies have shown that yoga nidra meditation is associated with positive physiological changes, including improvements in several hematological variables, red blood cell counts, blood glucose levels, and hormonal status. Two neuroimaging studies have shown that yoga nidra produces changes in endogenous dopamine release and cerebral blood flow, a further confirmation that its effects on the Central Nervous System (CNS) are objectively measurable. The practice has also been shown to reduce psychometrically measured indices of mild depression and anxiety, although these benefits were not shown in an experimental study to extend to severe depression or severe anxiety.
Yoga nidra is considered to be a useful tool to improve focus and concentration, as well as a way to master sleep and be more alert when awake. It is also considered to be a great tool to maximize productivity, physical and mental health with daily tools. The practice is also known as NSDR or non-sleep deep rest. There is also terrific neuroimaging data from laboratories in Denmark showing that there's a restoration of dopamine levels in the so-called basal ganglia after NSDR, aka yoga nidra. Whether or not you call it yoga nidra or NSDR, you can find these scripts at zero cost, multiple places and even certain apps that are NSDR or yoga nidra apps.
In conclusion, Yoga Nidra is a powerful relaxation technique that promotes deep relaxation and has many benefits for physical, mental and emotional well-being. It is a simple, yet effective tool that can be used by people of all ages and abilities. It is a great alternative to traditional relaxation methods and is available to everyone at no cost through various scripts and apps. It is suggested to give yoga nidra a try and experience the benefits for yourself.