How Yoga Nidra Works

Last Updated on April 2, 2024 by Francis

Yoga nidra is a powerful meditation technique that helps individuals experience deep relaxation and connection with their inner selves. This practice is becoming increasingly popular around the world, as people seek ways to manage stress and improve their overall well-being. In this introduction, we will explore how yoga nidra works and the benefits it can offer for mind, body, and spirit.

Understanding Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is a powerful technique that helps you achieve deep relaxation, mental clarity, and emotional balance. It is a form of meditation that guides you through various stages of consciousness, from the waking state to the dream state and into the deep sleep state. Yoga Nidra is a Sanskrit term that means “yogic sleep.” Although it is called yogic sleep, it is not actually sleeping. Yoga Nidra is a state of consciousness that is between wakefulness and sleep.

The Origin of Yoga Nidra

The practice of Yoga Nidra has its roots in ancient Indian tradition. The first mention of Yoga Nidra can be found in the Upanishads, which are ancient Hindu texts. However, the modern form of Yoga Nidra that we practice today was developed by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, a disciple of Swami Sivananda.

The Benefits of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra has numerous benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Some of the benefits include:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Enhances creativity
  • Increases focus and concentration
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Reduces chronic pain
  • Helps with addiction recovery
  • Promotes a sense of inner peace and calmness

Key takeaway: Yoga Nidra is a powerful technique that helps achieve relaxation, mental clarity, and emotional balance. It is a guided meditation that activates the parasympathetic nervous system and reduces stress, enhances creativity, increases focus and concentration, reduces chronic pain, and promotes inner peace and calmness. It involves several stages, including preparation, intention setting, rotation of consciousness, breath awareness, visualization, Sankalpa, and coming out of the practice. To practice Yoga Nidra, find a quiet space, use props to be comfortable, follow the guided meditation, maintain awareness, and practice regularly.

The Stages of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation that consists of several stages. During each stage, you are guided by a voice that directs your attention to different parts of your body, your breath, and your thoughts. The stages of Yoga Nidra include:

  1. Preparation
  2. Intention setting
  3. Rotation of consciousness
  4. Breath awareness
  5. Visualization
  6. Sankalpa (positive affirmation)
  7. Coming out of the practice
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The Science behind Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra works by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” response. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, your body can release tension and enter a state of deep relaxation. The relaxation response also helps to reduce the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

Studies have shown that Yoga Nidra can also increase the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Additionally, Yoga Nidra can increase the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles.

How to Practice Yoga Nidra

Find a Quiet Space

To practice Yoga Nidra, find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. Lie down on your back on a yoga mat or a comfortable surface.

Use Props

Use props such as blankets, bolsters, and pillows to make yourself comfortable. Cover yourself with a blanket to stay warm.

Follow the Guided Meditation

Follow the voice of the guided meditation as it directs your attention to different parts of your body, your breath, and your thoughts. Allow yourself to enter a state of deep relaxation.

Maintain Awareness

Although Yoga Nidra is a state of deep relaxation, it is also a state of awareness. Maintain your awareness as you move through the different stages of the practice.

Practice Regularly

To experience the full benefits of Yoga Nidra, practice regularly. Aim to practice at least once a week.


The first stage of Yoga Nidra is preparation. During this stage, you get into a comfortable position and focus on your breath. You may also set an intention for your practice.

Intention Setting

During the intention setting stage, you create an intention for your practice. This intention can be anything from reducing stress to improving sleep quality.

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Rotation of Consciousness

The rotation of consciousness stage involves directing your attention to different parts of your body. The voice of the guided meditation will direct your attention from one part of your body to another, starting from your toes and moving up to your head.

Breath Awareness

The breath awareness stage involves focusing on your breath. The voice of the guided meditation will guide you through different breathing techniques, such as deep breathing and alternate nostril breathing.


The visualization stage involves creating mental images. The voice of the guided meditation will guide you through different visualizations, such as imagining a peaceful place or a healing light.


The Sankalpa stage involves creating a positive affirmation. The voice of the guided meditation will guide you through creating a positive statement, such as “I am healthy and happy.”

Coming out of the Practice

The final stage of Yoga Nidra is coming out of the practice. During this stage, you slowly bring your awareness back to your body and your surroundings.

FAQs – How Yoga Nidra Works

What is yoga nidra?

Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation technique that induces a state of deep relaxation in the practitioner’s mind and body. It systematically releases tensions and stress from the body, calms the mind and creates a state of relaxation by inducing a conscious sleep.

How does yoga nidra work?

Yoga Nidra works by moving the brain waves from Beta to Alpha and later to Theta, which is the state of conscious deep sleep. This process activates the relaxation response in the nervous system, which helps to alleviate stress, anxiety and other mental and physical ailments. It also helps to recharge the body, boost immunity and rejuvenate the mind.

What are the benefits of yoga nidra?

The benefits of Yoga Nidra are numerous. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve sleep quality, boost memory, promote emotional stability and reduce symptoms of depression. It also aids digestion, strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure and balance the hormonal system.

How long does a yoga nidra session last?

A typical yoga nidra session lasts between 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the purpose and intensity of the practice. It is recommended to practice yoga nidra regularly for optimal benefits, preferably daily, for at least 20 minutes.

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What are the steps followed in a yoga nidra practice?

In a yoga nidra practice, the practitioner is guided through a series of steps, which includes relaxation techniques, breath awareness, and visualization exercises. The practice begins with setting a Sankalpa, or an intention or a goal, followed by progressive relaxation of the body and focusing on the breath. Later, the practitioner visualizes different objects and images, and finally is slowly guided back to the present moment.

Is yoga nidra suitable for everyone?

Yes, Yoga Nidra is a highly beneficial practice and is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. It can be practiced by anyone, including pregnant women, senior citizens, and people suffering from physical and mental ailments. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor before practicing yoga nidra if you have any chronic health condition.

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