Yoga Nidra is a special kind of yoga that helps you rest and restore through what’s called ‘yogic sleep’. It’s a kind of guided meditation that helps your brain shift from its busy waking conscious state into a calmer more relaxed state. It helps you ‘power down’, releasing serotonin (the happiness hormone), and guiding you into a restorative meditative state, or a deep, peaceful asleep.
What to expect
The practice is really easy – you simply lie still and follow the guided meditation, letting the stress of the day go, and welcoming peace and sleep. After the practice you can either stay asleep or reawaken feeling happier, calmer and more rested.
There are two versions of this practice – one will wake you at the end, the other lets you drift into sleep. The second version is really helpful if you wake in the middle of the night: pop your headphones on and play it on your phone in bed. You needn’t watch the video once you have learned how to set up your space; just listen to the meditation and drift back to sleep.
What will you need?
You can do Yoga Nidra wearing anything you like, as long as it’s comfortable. You will need to make a peaceful space to do the practice: in bed with your legs propped up as Uma explains; on the floor on top of a duvet with your legs on the couch; or on a yoga mat, well supported by bolsters. Plenty of blankets to keep you warm are a good idea, and if it’s day time, something to cover your eyes can help you rest and relax into the practice.
Yoga Nidra: a supercharged catnap
Amazingly, even if you don’t sleep, Yoga Nidra will leave you feeling like you have really rested. Many women who practice the technique regularly say that they come back from their practice feeling fully restored – and according to Yoga Journal, 45 minutes of yogic sleep feels like 3 hours of regular sleep. So if you have had a bad night’s sleep, this 30 minute practice will help to recharge your batteries.
Daytime – with wakening cue
Nighttime – helps you drift into sleep and stay there
About Uma Dinsmore-Tuli
Uma has 20 years experience of sharing yoga therapy for women’s health, though she started her yoga career aged four, joining her mum watching Yoga for Health on Thames TV. Her career since has been just as intellectually curious and enquiring, spanning different schools of yoga and yoga therapy including Structural Yoga Therapy, Satyananda Yoga and Iyengar Yoga.
Uma gained her Yoga Biomedical Trust Diploma in Yoga Therapy in 1999, and subsequently trained in Structural Yoga Therapy and Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy, and worked as a yoga therapist with special expertise in women’s health. She is a recognised teacher of the British Wheel of Yoga, and is an International Association of Yoga Therapists’ Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT).