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Why You Need Yoga Nidra (aka Psychic Sleep) Now

Updated: May 12, 2023


Yoga Nidra means ‘Yogic Sleep’ or ‘Psychic Sleep’ in Sanskrit (योग निद्रा). It’s an ancient practice of healing and reconnecting to oneself while in a state of deep relaxation. Its popularity is growing steadily and it seems to be the perfect antidote to the chronic stress, anxiety, and general sense of dissatisfaction that’s becoming so pervasive in modern society.


I sometimes describe Yoga Nidra as a type of guided meditation, but it’s more complex than that. It’s actually a very specific, methodical, therapeutic exercise that has the power to transform the practitioner by shifting their nervous system and their consciousness into a deep resting state.


Yoga Nidra is traditionally practiced lying down on the back. There are ways in which to prop and position the body so it’s comfortable for the 45 minute practice (this may be a little more less depending on the guide and the exact technique). Softening tension and releasing physical pressure points is essential, because one of the goals of this practice is to begin to lose the conscious awareness and sensations of the physical body so your full awareness can reunite with the heart center, the intuition, and the life essence or the spirit.



Woman practicing Yoga Nidra deep meditation aka conscious sleep


There are many different versions of traditional Yoga Nidra practices from various traditions, and some may have very specific healing outcomes. A unique Sankalpah (Sanskrit: सङ्कल्प) is created, which is like an intention or affirmation for your own personal therapeutic use. It directs your practice towards what you’d like to experience and create over time in your own life.


The state of consciousness that is achieved when you become acquainted with the practice is somewhere between waking and a sleep state— it rides the line between the two worlds. (Ideally, a delta wave brain state is produced). It’s in this state of consciousness that very deep regenerative healing can take place, from a cellular to an energetic level. All parts of us— the physical, the mental, the emotional and the spiritual can be affected by this state of relaxation and internal guidance. It’s a whole being experience, and the healing effects happen where they are needed the most, automatically. As you can see the science behind the practice is complex, but essentially we're relaxing extremely deeply— but with intention— and handing over the power healing to our higher selves as we place our trust in our inner guidance system.



.. essentially we're relaxing extremely deeply— but with intention— and handing over the power healing to our higher selves as we place our trust in our inner guidance system.

This age-old practice is similar to guided meditation and is growing in popularity because of its ease and accessibility. Because the body is placed in a comfortable resting position, any extra strain or attention to physical discomfort is greatly reduced and mental resources can be used for the practice at hand.


And because it’s a passive exercise, it seems to allow the mind to release and relax more than some types of meditation and mindfulness exercises. Studies have shown that Yoga Nidra addresses anxiety better than other types of seated meditation and mindfulness activities might, but that statement only scratches the surface of its healing power.




Some benefits of a regular practice:

  • Decreased anxiety and depression

  • Trauma recovery

  • Increased memory, focus and power of concentration

  • Increased willpower and patience

  • Better access to our intuition and knowledge of our life's purpose

  • Relief from chronic physical conditions and expedited healing of injuries


Due to sustained stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, the levels of good-feeling hormones increase while practicing yoga nidra. These include dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin. At the same time the brain directs stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol to taper down. This allows the body to not only feel rested upon completing the practice, but to actually heal at a cellular level during the nidra— similar to how your cells, tissues and organs repair more quickly when in a deep sleep state each night. It’s thought that a 45 minute session of traditional Yoga Nidra can equate to around 5 hours of deep sleep when it comes to the restorative and rejuvenating effects.


If you're into research, there are many studies already showing a vast collection of healing benefits spanning the whole being— physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. But after experiencing a traditional Yoga Nidra class for yourself, you’ll understand why this practice should be an essential part of any modern self care routine.



You can practice by yourself at home, or in any comfortable location where you can find a relative amount of quiet and comfort (hotel, airplane, office…) But since the practice is detailed and precise (there are 8 specific steps required to move properly through the session), it’s important to have a guide who’s well-versed in leading the way. Ready to give it a try?



Jessica Crow teaching about the benefits of Yoga Nidra in the CNTRD Yoga Nidra Training
CNTRD Yoga Nidra Training

I suggest taking an online Yoga Nidra class or using a recorded class to guide you through the practice. You can head to my Mindscaping Podcast to hear several versions or Follow Me on Insight Timer to listen on the app. And of course reach out to me with any questions!





And if you’re curious about how Yoga Nidra can deepen your self care practice for life, or you’d like to gain the skills to become a Yoga Nidra guide yourself— my new online training covers the history, science, philosophy, benefits & uses, methodology, as well as personal guidance on how to create custom sessions and be a supportive guide for others.

(Take as long as you need. Study from anywhere in the world. This training is a combination of On Demand learning content and Live Online Masterclasses and Mentorship)






 



Jessica Crow helps people harness the power of meditation and mindfulness to change their lives and the lives of others for the better through practical courses and personalized mentorship.

Jessica Crow founder of CNTRD Wellness

Check out her book 'The Power of Guided Meditation', published by Fair Winds Press and her New On Demand Course 'The Power of Guided Meditation' or anyone who wants to harness the power of meditation in their own lives.

Follow her on Insight Timer or Subscribe to her Podcast to listen to free guided meditations.





 




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