Yoga Nidra, also called Yogic Sleep, is as old as Yoga itself. It is a thousand years old meditation technique from India that works by taking you to the border state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. Read more about the origin and the method of Yoga Nidra in this article.
I recently finished a 14-day Yoga Nidra challenge and here are some highlights from the experiment if you are thinking to give it a try and curious about the benefits and the technique.
How I did it
Every day I practiced Yoga Nidra between 4 and 40 minutes each session. On average, I meditated for 20 minutes, mostly at bedtime. Since this practice is not compatible with alcohol, on days when I was going out, the practice shifted to mornings or afternoons.
I used various guided Yoga Nidra recordings, with and without visualizations: from YouTube, some of my favorite yoga teachers and the free version of the Insight Timer app. Experimented with Chidakasha - observing the “inner space” in the mind located behind the Ajna Chakra (aka third eye). I did not set any Sankalpas (intentions) for the practice as I believe those kinds of “shortcuts” to programming the subconscious mind can do more harm than good long term. The only intention that I create is usually a very simple “I am deeply relaxed, calm and blissful.”
- The benefits were pretty much immediate: I noticed an increase in my energy level, focus and ability to get more things done while having more fun.
- It is said that a 30-minute Yoga Nidra practice is equivalent to 2-4 hours of quality sleep. While it does not replace sleep, I did notice that I needed less sleep than I normally do, while my energy was staying high throughout the day. I was waking up before the alarm and 6 hours of sleep felt sufficient.
- Yoga Nidra flows deeper after a physical activity. My deepest sessions were after surfing or lifting at the gym.
- Increased Synchronicity: various lucky events started to occur here and there without me manifesting anything, just going about my day.
- Involuntary body movements: it’s true! It’s a known phenomenon one may experience during spiritual practices such as Yoga Nidra, meditation or breathwork. I felt muscle spasms and twitches in my legs. They say those are energetic releases of unresolved tension or energy blocks stored in the body. Felt a bit creepy and funky at first, but I just observed and let it do its thing. There was a sense of deep, profound peace afterwards.
- Yoga Nidra + alcohol is a bad idea. During my 2-week experiment, I felt especially strong how depleting alcohol can be. It’s like you’re working on your mindset and building yourself up, then you have just one or two drinks at a music festival (but of course, everyone else around are on something!), and it goes down the drain very quickly so you have to start over again.
- The Gap of nothingness: been there. Yoga Nidra works by taking us into conscious sleep states, progressively moving through the same brainwave states as sleep, until eventually we disengage from the thoughts and self identification. When you enter a Gap of nothingness, it means you are in a deeper state of Yoga Nidra, somewhere between Theta and Delta brainwave states. This is where the real work begins.
Let me know in the comments if you practice or want to practice Yoga Nidra and what your experience has been like. I will continue to incorporate it in my wellness rituals as I do see positive results when practicing consistently. Peace.