HOW YOGA NIDRA SAVES ME FROM STRESS & ANXIETY
Yoga nidra is an essential practice of my self-care routine, and becomes even more important in stressful times. If I want to recharge myself during the day or unwind in the evening, yoga nidra is my go-to remedy. Yoga nidra is great to reduce stress and anxiety. In this post I would like to share with you why I use yoga nidra regularly and how it helps me to relax, calm down and be energized, especially during lockdown this spring.
I discovered yoga nidra in 2018 during a yoga reatreat in Morocco. This practice gave me the deep feeling of tranquility and connection with my body & mind as I never experienced it before. I was impressed and instanly convinced in the benefits of yoga nidra.
What is yoga nidra?
Yoga nidra is not your regular type of yoga as you might imagine it. Yoga nidra helps you to consciously relax your body and mind.
When thinking ‘yoga’ you might think physical postures – asanas. But not in yoga nidra. Nidra means sleep. You practice yoga nidra by lying on your back on the yoga mat or rug, or even on a bed. The most important is to feel comfortable and at ease during the practice. That’s what I love about yoga nidra – everyone who can lay on the back can practice it!
The meaning of yoga nidra is ‘yogic sleep’ and indeed when you practice it for the first times, you might fall alseep. But it is not the purpose. The purpose of the yoga nidra is to conciously relax your body and mind.
Yoga nidra helps you to consciously relax your body and mind.
The main benefits of yoga nidra
Why is it so crucial to relax conciously?
Oftentimes when we think we are relaxing, we really don’t. We are so used to be in constant doing mode, even when we relax. Think about reading a book, watching a movie, spending time with friends or even going for a walk. These all are great activities and definitely have place in your self-care routine. However how much time do you spend by doing nothing, except trully ‘being?’.
You might think – I go to sleep every night and don’t do anything. However sleeping and yoga nidra are not the same. Yoga nidra brings your and your brain into a different state compared to sleep.
How yoga nidra reduces stress and anxiety
Yoga nidra brings you – your brain – to a state between being waking and dream, which is called alpha waves state. When you are awake, your brain in the beta waves, when you are asleep – in theta or delta. Very often when we fall asleep, we go from beta to delta almost right away skipping the alpha state.
The alpha state is crucial for our well-being. Being in this state promotes stress reduction, relaxed focused, positive thinking and faster learning. You are literally recharging your batteries.
What to expect from yoga nidra practice?
Yoga nidra is about feeling and visualising. While you are relaxing on your back, the teacher is guiding you through the yoga nidra practice with the voice. Your only task is to follow the instructions.
The essential part of the practice is to feel your body, part by part, in a particular sequence. You also connect to your breath and the feeling of it. The practice includes visualisation and imagination practices which develop your creativity and intuation. During the practice you are often invited to set an intention – sankalpa – to manifest your deepest dreams.
Yoga nidra is a feeling and visual experience.
How do I use yoga nidra to reduce stress and anxiety?
Due to high levels of stress and anxiety during lockdown period because of changes at work and uncertainty in the world, I needed to rest more, to stay sane and re-energized myself. I started a daily yoga nidra routine and did it even twice a day on the most stressful days. I use yoga nidra in a few ways.
♥ Yoga nidra is my power nap
When I work from home, I practice yoga nidra as a power nap during my lunch break. No regular nap can beat it, trust me! You don’t have to really sleep to feel relaxed. You need to access the alpha state and that was yoga nidra does. Often you wake up even more tired and unfocused after 30-40 min nap. But practicing 10-20 min of yoga nidra gives you an energy boost.
Personally I prefer to practice for 20 minutes to feel complete relaxation and reset myself.
♥ Yoga nidra helps me to have a good night sleep
I practice yoga nidra right before going to sleep. Yoga nidra is my go-to technique to slow down before going to sleep. During lockdown I felt ‘tired but wired’. My body was extremely tired but my mind was thinking a lot.
Yoga nidra helps to transition from highly active mode to relaxation – to the ‘being mode’. I listen to the audio of yoga nidra and often by the time it is finished I’m asleep.
♥ Yoga nidra makes me creative
During lockdown things turned upside down at my job and I had to operate in new uncertain conditions and come up with new and creative solutions. But I simply didn’t see beyond what I usually knew.
When I’m stressed and overwhelmed, I can’t think straight. I make mistakes and have difficulty to focused. Does it sound familiar?
Yoga nidra not only gives me energy, but helps me to be more creative. It clears the mess in my head leaving space for creativity and play.
How can you practice yoga nidra?
There are yoga studios that offer full-length yoga nidra classes. However this yoga style is less famous than other more physical yoga types and is not available in every studio.
Firstly, I guide my students through a gentle and relaxing hatha flow to tune in to your body. Then we do a 30-minute yoga nidra practice. Nothing can beat the relaxation after this class!
You can also do yoga nidra at home with an audio recording. I have a few favourite recordings of yoga nidra to use regularly. Try a few different recordings until you find your favourite one and stick to it. Since the yoga nidra is based on guiding by voice, your teacher’s voice should calm you down and not make you more anxious.
Give yoga nidra a try!
Here is a 20-minute yoga nidra recording with gentle handpan music from me. Just lie down on the mat (or bed), cover yourself with a warm blanket and enjoy the (alpha) waves of relaxation!
Have you ever practiced yoga nidra before? Share with me what do you think about yoga nidra and how was your experience.