Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Yoga Nidra is a science based guided meditation that cycles through the white matter of the brain and ultimately shuts down the part of the brain that analyzes and intellectualizes information. In short, some describe it as staring the subconscious in the face.
The Practice of Yoga Nidra:
Yoga Nidra is very simple. You lay on your back, relax and listen to the instructor. A typical practice begins with relaxation, then a resolve is made by the student to themselves ( this is something that the student wants to plant within their subconscious, the instructor does NOT influence or even know the resolve). Once a resolve is made, the instructor moves into a rotation of consciousness by calling out parts of the body. The student simply listens and thinks about that part of the body without actually moving it. After the rotation of consciousness there is the counting of the breath, brief visualization and then a slow ending. When the student ensures they are awake, they can sit up and the practice is complete.
The purpose of the method above is to activate and then shutdown / relax parts of the brain. Yoga Nidra shuts down the part of the brain that intellectualizes and analyzes, leaving only the subconscious to play. Unlike hypnosis though, this guided meditation gives the instructor no power over the student. As Swami Satyananda Saraswati says, "In dreams you have no control, in Yoga Nidra you are the creator of the dream."
This is physically not intense at all. Mentally, this can be very intense, especially if there has been past trauma.
45 - 90 minutes
Yoga Nidra and the benefits of meditation are still being examined, though new case studies and reports are often published citing that it:
Significantly reduces stress and stress hormones, such as cortisol, within the body
Stimulates the left-prefrontal cortex, associated with happiness and good decision making
Fosters emotional health and self-awareness
Increases Attention Span and the ability to problem-solve
May enhance memory and fight age-related memory loss
Has been shown to help fight addictions
Has been shown to reduce chronic pain
Has been shown to temper aggression and anger
Decreases blood pressure
If you want to take this study deeper, I strongly recommend reading the book Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
Still have more questions? Contact Courtney on Instagram @Couryoga