How good is the yogic sleep as a relaxation technique? Yoga nidra through a scientific lens

In today’s day and age, our minds are more stimulated than ever. Never before have human beings been exposed to as many stimuli as in the digital age. Many of us are always in multitasking mode, which is constantly activating our sympathetic nervous system, keeping us in an aware state.

However, this amount of activation is not natural for our sympathetic nervous system and can add up to increased anxiety, poor sleep and general health problems unless we learn some effective ways to relax at home and give our nervous system a break.

This is where yoga nidra can help. Yoga nidra (or yogic sleep) is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the "going-to-sleep" stage, typically induced by a guided meditation, while lying in savasana.

The practise of yogic sleep involves bringing awareness to different parts of the body consecutively, which helps you become conscious of your whole body, coming into the state of relaxed consciousness.

The health benefits of yogic sleep

Knowing how yoga nidra can benefit our daily routine, you’re likely wondering how much of a difference can this relaxation technique really make. How is yogic sleep helping your mental and physical health?

First, it’s important to point out that many findings about the health benefits of meditation apply to yoga nidra, as the two practises can have similarly beneficial effects on the body and mind. If you’re finding meditation beneficial in dealing with any physical or mental health issues, yoga nidra will also likely help you in this aspect.

1. Improve your sleep

Most of us will experience some sort of sleep irregularities throughout our lives, many of which are related to worry, anxiety or stress. Incorporating yogic sleep at bedtime can be a great way to boost your sleep and have a restful night, waking up refreshed.

In recent research, the Indian yogi Swami Rama has shown that the yogic sleep can be used to enter non-REM sleep, when the parasympathetic nervous system (which relaxes our body) takes over.

2. Managing worry

If you’re experiencing panic attacks, anxiety or generally worry a lot, this relaxation technique can help you find a way to quiet these in your mind. As you get better at practising yogic sleep, you’ll also learn to apply what you’ve learned through the day, in managing anxiety or worry.

Yoga nidra has been shown to facilitate the release of dopamine – the ‘happy hormone’ – into our system. The relaxation technique also reduces blood flow to the parts of the brain which are associated with control over our own actions, giving them a break in comparison to our general, controlling state.

In other research, yoga nidra has also been applied to help soldiers manage post-traumatic stress disorder and its symptoms.

3. True self-care

Of all self-care practises, choosing to connect with yourself by practising yogic sleep is one of the most beneficial. You become more aware of the connection between the mind and the body – and learn to appreciate both for what they are.

Yoga nidra can be a wonderful aid to those working with tight deadlines and large workload, such as university students – a 2019 study has demonstrated that the yogic sleep can both alleviate stress and improve self-esteem in students.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by multitasking and constantly keeping busy with digital technology, give the precise of yogic sleep a try.

Let us know in the comments what are some other ways you like to relax at home!


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