Last Updated:

January 28, 2021

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For hundreds of years, followers of the Buddhist, Hindu and other traditions have achieved a sense of calm and overall peace with the help of practices such as meditation and yoga. Now, as our lives are inundated with a constant flurry of emails, phone calls, traffic jams, skipped meals and sleepless nights, the need for cultivating tranquility in our daily lives has reached an all-time high.  

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga nidra (often also referred to as ‘Yogic sleep’) is one of the easiest yoga practices to undertake and one of the most beneficial. In Yoga Nidra, your body surrenders to a deeply relaxed, semi-conscious state which helps to activate your parasympathetic nervous system— the nervous system responsible for allowing your body to “rest and digest”. It is simply a semi-awake state achieved with the help of a Yoga Nidra guide, which allows your body to relax while reaping numerous health benefits.


Qualities of Yoga Nidra

One of the virtues of Yoga Nidra is that it can be incorporated into your schedule with extreme ease and it does not require you to achieve a dozen complicated poses. 


For people who lead stressful lives, it can play a significant role in getting rid of the tension caused by everyday living and helps the body and mind achieve a restful state.


Another major problem that is a staple in most people’s lives is a lack of restful sleep. Continuous noise, sirens, phone calls, work and home pressures all contribute to varying degrees of insomnia which can lead to severe stress, exhaustion, altered mental states, and disease. Yoga Nidra has proven benefits in helping people who struggle with sleep disorders to achieve a soothing and uninterrupted sleep.


Issues with reproductive health can be indicators of imbalance in the body. Another cited and important healing quality of Yoga Nidra has been its positive effects on the regulation of irregular or painful menstrual cycles, helping people who suffer from various hormonal imbalances to re-stabilise their menstrual cycles. 

Traditional Meditation

Meditation is an age-old tool used to achieve mental and physical tranquility by decreasing the magnitude of stress-related responses. It has roots in Buddhist culture but is now used worldwide for its restorative properties.
Traditionally meditation includes practices that aim to empty the mind of the tangle of worrying and tension-inducing thoughts that contribute to ongoing exhaustion and disconnection from the present moment. Yoga Nidra is one of these practices.

Qualities of Meditation Practices:

Quite a few studies that have been conducted in recent decades have proven the positive role that meditation plays in managing risk factors associated with life-threatening diseases.
An important effect of meditation is its role in triggering the Relaxation Response (RR). The Relaxation Response is known to have numerous health benefits which it encourages by decreasing stress levels, anxiety and tension, producing better overall health and wellness in the body.

Another important health benefit that meditation brings about is a decrease in the incidence of the risk factors of various cardiovascular diseases which are one of the leading causes of mortality in human beings. It has also had proven benefits in decreasing feelings of depression and melancholy in people combating life-threatening illnesses.

Yoga Nidra vs. Other Forms of Meditation — which is better?

People often ask us to explain Yoga Nidra or use search terms such as “Yoga Nidra vs Traditional Meditation”. With roots tracing back to the Vedic time period, Yoga Nidra was more substantially developed in the 20th Century and has long since been considered a form of mindfulness meditation. The health benefits of Yoga Nidra are akin to those of other meditation practices. Meditation in general can help the body achieve the Relaxation Response (RR), thus giving the overall body a health boost.  Yoga Nidra is simply one way of approaching it. 

 

Having said this, Yoga Nidra is known to be a very accessible entry point for people starting out with meditation or for people that struggle with achieving stillness of the mind through other practices. Many people tend to find this approach an easy gateway to ‘dropping in’ to a calmer more blissful state. 

Many people we have talked to who have tried meditation say that it can be tormenting sitting in silence with themselves and their own thoughts. This experience does not support the relaxation response. And while it is possible that someone may have this experience with Yoga Nidra it is less common than with other forms of meditation because the Yoga Nidra guide is continuously directing the attention of the participant to sensations and experiences in the body all throughout the practice. 

The circulation of consciousness or movement of the mind’s focus from point to point throughout the body does two things. Firstly, it means that the mind is focused on wherever it has been directed to and does not have much of a chance to become distracted and entangled with other thoughts. Secondly, this process helps to slow down the participant’s brainwaves bringing them to a place where their mind is not as flooded with thoughts as it often is when racing a million miles a minute through daily life. This movement of the mind toward stillness results in an experience of deep relaxation in both the body and the mind.

So which is better? If you have an established meditation practice, well done, keep it up! You may find Yoga Nidra another approach to augment your commitment. If you have never tried meditation or are struggling with other practices, then Yoga Nidra may be just what you have been looking for!

About Us

From beginner to experienced yogi, at Integral Tracks everyone is welcome to join our guided practice. We’ll start you with a few gentle stretches to loosen your body and gradually shift into a supine position. From there we continue to guide you through the life giving experience of the practice.  You will be led into a deep-sleep state while still remaining fully conscious. By the end of the session we aim to have you emerge with a sense of peace and equanimity.

Contact us today to book your session or ask us a question about the practice!