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Yoga nidra is a unique form of meditation that encourages total relaxation. Learn how this practice can decrease stress and improve your sleep.

Yoga nidra is a specific type of yoga that promotes rest and relaxation through meditation. Because it focuses on decreasing anxiety and increasing feelings of calmness, many people use the practice to help with sleep. If you experience a lot of stress or anxiety in your daily life, learning yoga nidra may help you fall asleep—and stay asleep—at night. Discover the way the practice works and how you can benefit from it.

What It Is
Yoga nidra, also known as “yogic sleep,” is a form of guided meditation that aims to create a state of consciousness somewhere between waking and sleeping. Unlike other forms of yoga, it does not involve physical movement or poses, but rather, relies on deep breathing to calm the mind and relax the body.

Why It Works
When properly performed, yoga nidra can feel almost like being asleep: It induces the deepest possible state of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. By relaxing your mind and body, yoga nidra can help with issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. The relaxed state can lead to other positive health effects, such as reduced blood pressure and lowered cholesterol. This can help with health issues such as chronic disease and sleep disorders.

How It Helps with Sleep
Many people experience sleep issues as a result of stress and anxiety; by alleviating some of these negative emotions, yoga nidra may help improve sleep. It can also help patients with insomnia fall asleep more quickly and even encourage a more restorative sleep state. As a result of the activity’s physical, emotional, and mental relaxation, practitioners of yoga nidra report sleeping better at night, and tend to suffer less with issues such as racing thoughts.

Where to Try It
Yoga nidra classes may be offered at your local gym or yoga studio. You can also find videos of the practice online. And remember, although it you may find a guided session in a class setting is most relaxing for you, there is no right or wrong way to do yoga nidra, and it can be done for as little or long as you like.