Yoga Nigra: A Stress Reduction Practice


Yoga Nidra is an excellent practice for reducing stress, improving brain function, and guiding the body into a calm, relaxed state. It is sometimes referred to as dynamic sleep. A 30 minute Yoga Nidra practice can be equivalent to about a two hour dose of sleep, according to practitioners. 

Yoga Nidra, like meditation, impacts brain wave states, specifically lowering them into that alpha/theta wave range. As I describe in THIS blog post, humans are predominantly operating in beta brain wave states throughout the day, while we are alert. During stressful situations, the brain kicks into higher beta waves. This hampers the brain and body’s energy levels. It’s a good idea to adopt a daily Yoga Nidra or meditation practice to consciously lower those brain wave states. This resets or recharges mental states and energy levels.

How to Perform Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is very similar to a meditation practice, but with a subtle difference. The easiest way is to find a guided Yoda Nidra meditation, audio recording, or YouTube video and let it walk you through the process. But, you can certainly perform it on your own.

Sit in a comfortable position or lie down on your back and close your eyes. Take a few, slow, deep breaths in and out through the nose. Place your conscious awareness on your breathing, your bodily sensations, and then just let your mind go. Let it wander to wherever it wants. This is the biggest difference between a Yoga Nidra practice and a mindfulness meditation practice – you don’t need to keep consciously putting your attention back to your breathing. Just let your mind go and continue to feel your body in a deep relaxed state.

Pay attention to your thinking, as well as your bodily state. You can stop the practice after about 20-30 minutes when you feel a deep sense of relaxation, or when you’ve felt yourself almost dip into a sleep state. It’s kind of like that feeling when you briefly doze off while watching a tv show, or on an airplane when your head drops down suddenly and you quickly snap it back up. 

The practice of Yoga Nidra is essentially becoming skilled at putting your brain and body into that state that is between asleep and awake. The body is completely relaxed and the mind is completely alert. Here, conscious thinking starts to blend with dream-like states of mind. Along with meditation, Yoga Nidra is another powerful tool for reducing stress, boosting alertness and enhancing cognitive function. 

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