On our path to wellness, we recently discovered Yoga nidra, a yogic sleep and meditation practice the effects of which are nothing short of magical. Our tryst with Yoga nidra was enabled by Mona Anand, a New York-based yoga nidra instructor, who was raised in Mumbai. She has spent a decade curating her own brand of restorative yoga and yoga nidra workshops, a style that is now adopted by teachers globally.
As the current chaos has taken a toll on our health and sleep, Nude Magazine founder Margo Samant spoke to Mona Anand about the benefits of practicing yoga nidra:
Yoga nidra – a doorway to deep relaxation
Yoga nidra is the most natural way to restore your body and mind to their natural state, without any special training. Yoga nidra is a guided meditation, it is practiced in shava-asana and is much easier than sitting. The technique involves using your mind to go through your body and arrive at a state we call – hypnagogic state (a state on the threshold of being awake and being asleep). A regular active brain is dominated by beta waves, 13 to 20 cycles per second. In this state, we think, analyse, etc. When you start to relax – alpha waves dominate, which is 7 to 12 cycles per second, 4 to 7 cycles per second in the dream state called theta. A state of deep sleep, delta brain wave dominance is 1 to 4 (cps). Yoga nidra is a doorway between the waking state and the dream state. The space between sleep and wakefulness is where you experience deep relaxation. Just 20 minutes of this practice will make you feel a lot better and can be more deeply relaxing than actual sleep. It’s a doorway into the subconscious and unconscious self.
Yoga nidra is an ancient Indian practice, references to which can be found in the Mahabharata.
A personal journey of healing with Yoga nidra
My first experience with yoga was in school during my SUPW classes. I was a competitive swimmer who was introduced to yoga nidra as a teenager, ever since I haven’t looked back. I was amazed by the peace and calmness it instills. I continued practicing it in school and college, I’d make classmates lie down and help them feel relaxed.
After the 9/11 attacks, I developed severe asthma and was under tremendous stress. Frequent trips to the hospital led to panic attacks as well. I thought I was going to die and to compound my issues, it was difficult to differentiate between asthma attacks and panic attacks.. A friend of mine then suggested resuming yoga. She invited me for a session at a yoga studio that she practiced at); the classes would conclude with a very short shavasana at the end. I started practicing restorative yoga at this time. It helped me reduce the stress caused by my asthma and panic attacks. It was also instrumental in improving my condition. This practice, which was like restorative therapy, changed my life.
I then signed up for a teacher training course under Alan Finger at Be Yoga in America. My daughter had trouble sleeping and I would help her with yoga nidra to sleep well and relax. I still recall my first class teaching kids, kids have great imagination, it can take them anywhere and that helped broaden my visualisation capabilities. I slowly progressed to teaching adults. Now regardless of what class I teach, I make sure to include yoga nidra in it.
A much needed release for the mind
Yoga nidra is a way of releasing what is in your subconscious into consciousness. It makes you more aware of your thoughts and gives you access to your subconscious while helping you relax. Consider it as taking out garbage from your mind without analyzing it. It helps release emotions, feelings, or experiences and gives insight. The only thing that keeps you from falling asleep during the practice is your sense of hearing as youre trained to the guided meditation. In this hypnagogic state, you can expand from your body and feel connected to the world. It helps to improve creativity as it strengthens your visual power. Think of it as being aware but in a dream state. One can practice in the morning and feel instantly rejuvenated. Regular practice will surely help you sleep better!
You relax on bolsters in one position for 15 to 20 minutes. We do a mix of two to three poses in an hour. In restorative yoga, the body reaches a state of deep relaxation as there is no movement – it makes the nervous system calm. Reduced transmission of signals between your mind and body helps you calm down.
Book suggestions related to Yoga nidra
Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananada Saraswati.
How to Do a 3-Minute Mindful Breathing Practice
What Does Mindfulness Actually Means?
And if you liked this article, sign up for a monthly newsletter. A handpicked selection of lifestyle articles delivered to your inbox.