Yoga nidra, or yoga sleep, is a meditative practice that carries a number of benefits (we broke down the basics of yoga nidra in an earlier blog post, so check that out if you haven't read it yet). Anyone can do yoga nidra, and research indicates it can improve sleep and decrease stress.
Yoga for Anyone
In yoga nidra, you do not have to practice any asanas (or physical postures) other than savasana, or corpse pose. In savasana, you lie in a comfortable position. At Point Bliss, we offer yogis a number of options and props for corpse pose so that anyone, regardless of any physical limitations, can be comfortable. Once you have found your savasana, you need only listen to the instructor's voice and let him/her guide you through the meditation. Simply put, you cannot do yoga nidra incorrectly.
While all yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices are linked to lower stress levels, the breath awareness and body scans that are a part of yoga nidra can help you calm the nervous system almost immediately. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system in this way can improve health and lower your baseline stress level.
Near the beginning of each yoga nidra practice, you set a sankulpa, or intention. The sankulpa is a positive statement in the present tense. Examples include, "I am strong," "I am at peace," "I am loved," etc. You state it three times, speaking from the heart and then let it go.
I think of this as planting a seed of truth deep within you. Then, as you practice yoga nidra, you are growing closer to your True Self--that part of you that is beyond the day-to-day stresses and concerns. As you get closer to your True Self, the sankulpa seed that you planted begins to grow into a truth. Thus, you become someone who is strong, who is at peace, who feels the love that is always inside, etc.
Creating a New Mindset
Over the course of our lives, we all develop healthy and unhealthy samskaras, or mental grooves. These are our repetitive thought patterns and beliefs. Many of us have healthy samskaras (e.g., "I am a loving person."). Unfortunately, many of us also have unhealthy belief systems, such as "I'll never be good enough" or "I'll never reach my dreams."
Yoga nidra gives us a space to explore the feelings, fears and anxieties that are deep within us as a result of these samskaras. As we explore the emotions in a safe space, we can release these old thought patterns and form new, healthier ones. Along with your sankulpa, new samskaras will transform you into a person who knows she is good enough and who will reach her dreams.
Finally, in yoga nidra, you enter a deeply relaxed state that is similar to sleep. Many report leaving class feeling as if they had a deep, restful few hours of sleep. When practiced early, this may leave you with more energy to complete tasks throughout the day. If practiced near bed time, your deeply relaxed state will help you transition more easily into sleep.
Want to give it a try? Point Bliss offers yoga nidra classes. We begin with a gentle flow practice to prepare your body for yoga nidra, then you can lie in savasana and enjoy the guided session. View our most up-to-date classes and book today.