29 Jun Meditation – Yoga Nidra (audio)
It’s time for one of our favorite meditations: Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is also called the yogic sleep: it’s like the body is asleep but the mind is still alert. It’s a very accessible practice, as it is fully guided and all you need to do is lie down and… stay with the voice of the person guiding the meditation.
During Yoga Nidra, you’re being guided through different phases of this meditation. A Nidra often starts with a form of body scan, followed by breath awareness, feelings and sensations, and different visualizations. You start your Yoga Nidra practice with a Sankalpa, or an intention/resolve. You use the present tense for this, for example: “I am healthy”, “I am successful in all that I undertake”, or “I am whole and healed”.
Here’s your Yoga Nidra practice!
Dear woman, here’s your Nidra. ♡
Yoga Nidra and brainwaves
To fully understand the benefits of Yoga Nidra, it’s important to look at the main stages of brain activity.
The activity of the cells in our brain is called “brainwaves”, as their pattern looks like waves. We can distinguish between four different types, based on the speed of the brain cells.
Neuroscientists have clearly mapped the different stages of brain activity, or different brainwaves, with the different phases of the Yoga Nidra practice:
- The first stage, or the body scan, brings our brain in the Beta stage. This is an active stage: you’re still actively concentrating.
- The next stage, breath awareness, brings us to the Alpha stage. You can compare this to being relaxed with your eyes closed, without any active thinking.
- Then comes the third stage, or the feelings and sensations part of Yoga Nidra. This is the Theta wave stage. The exact same thing happens to our brain when we are in our dream sleep (also known as the REM sleep), which is very important for processing our emotions.
- The fourth and last Nidra stage, the visualization part of the practice, brings us in the state of Delta waves. In this phase, our brain enters the same stage as when we are in deep (NREM or non-rapid eye movement) sleep.
This is a-ma-zing! So even though you’re fully awake during the practice of Yoga Nidra, your brain enters a state of deep sleep, allowed you to rest, process and revitalize while being awake. Mind blowing!
Why practice Yoga Nidra?
Research shows that Yoga Nidra is a practice that can increase the “feel-good” neurotransmitter dopamine levels by 85%. Dopamine doesn’t only help you feel good, it also improves motivation and concentration.
Yoga Nidra also lowers stress levels, and it improves blood pressure levels and heart rate variables. Research also says it can even stabilize hormone levels in women. In addition to that it can help with PTSD, anxiety and depression, making this an amazing practice for everyone.
Many people love practicing this type of meditation right before going to bed, because it let’s them easily drift off to sleep. For others it’s the opposite: they actually get very energized by the practice and prefer doing it in the middle of the day during a break or instead of a short nap.
Who can practice Yoga Nidra?
This first Yoga Nidra practice on the Sanga Sacred Space, is for everyone. If you are pregnant, we recommend practicing the Nidra on your (left) side instead of on your back.
Do I need any props?
We recommend practicing this on your yoga mat or a carpet. You can also practice in bed, but the chances you fall asleep during the practice are higher.
Make sure you’re warm and have an extra blanket on you, as your body temperature drops a little during meditation. You can use an eye pillow or scarve on your eyes to make it a darker if you practice during the day. We like having a thin blanket underneath the back of our head, especially if we are using an eye pillow, to avoid getting too much pressure on the back of the head.
What if I fall asleep?
Don’t worry, you might fall asleep, and that’s okay. Especially during your first Nidras, it’s more like to fall asleep. Later, if you get more used to the practice, it’s easier to stay awake.
Duration of the practice
Yoga Nidra often lasts between 20 and 50 minutes. The Nidra we practice here today, takes 20 minutes.