Cast your eye over any yoga schedule now and you’ll probably spot a restorative or yoga nidra class, or both. The deep states of rest achieved in these classes are much in demand and thankfully, becoming more mainstream. With a sleep epidemic growing globally, or as I heard recently from an expert on the topic, ‘dream deprivation’, these classes could be a positive solution for many, without having to resort to medication.
What is yoga nidra and why haven’t I heard about it before?
Yoga Nidra is often referred to as “yogic sleep,” a state of being between sleep and consciousness that’s conducive to deep emotional and physical healing, rewiring your brain, and self-exploration.
Richard Miller, Ph.D. and author of the text ‘Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing has suggested that there’s no separation between our dream state and reality, because they inform each other, and Yoga Nidra is a practice that helps bring you into alignment. It’s an effective and efficient way to access ‘rest and digest’ mode , which is where healing really happens. But the growth of the practice, isn’t just about a greater demand for undoing the side effects of modern life, it’s also a desire by many to experience the more subtle aspects of the yoga practice.
So what are the benefits of Yoga Nidra?
The practice of Yoga Nidra starts with a personal intention. In the beginning, even if you fall asleep during the practice (which is quite common), you’ll start feeling more rested and restored. One hour of Yoga Nidra is as restful as a few hours sleep. In one study that scanned the brains of a group doing Yoga Nidra, researchers found that the brain was at once in a deep resting state similar to sleep, but completely conscious. It showed that for the first time, one can be completely aware in such a deep state and that one can consciously experience and control the brain’s activity simultaneously. Yoga Nidra is accessible to everyone.