International Yoga Nidra | Deepest Possible States of Relaxation
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  • Nitika Mehra

International Yoga Nidra | Deepest Possible States of Relaxation

Integral yoga nidra or yogic sleep is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the "going-to-sleep" stage, typically induced by a guided meditation. Yoga nidra is a state in which the body is completely relaxed, and the practitioner becomes systematically and increasingly aware of the inner world by following a set of verbal instructions. This state of consciousness is different from meditation, in which concentration on a single focus is required. The goals of both yogic paths, yoga nidra and meditation are the same.


It is said that the history of yoga nidra is as old as yoga itself, as the first mention of yoga nidra is in the Upanishads. Lord Krishna is associated with yoga nidra in the epic Mahabharata. The Ocean becomes the bed of the lotus-naveled Vishnu when at the termination of every Yuga that deity of immeasurable power enjoys yoga-nidra, the deep sleep under the spell of spiritual meditation {Mahabharata, Book 1, section XXI}.


It is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. Yoga nidra results in conscious awareness of the deep sleep state, which is called prajna in the Mandukya Upanishad. Yoga nidra improves heart rate variability, a measure of balance in the autonomic nervous system, whether or not it is preceded by a session of hatha yoga asanas. The regular practice of yoga relaxation is a anti anxiety meditation and has been found to reduce tension and stress less accomplish more.


The autonomic symptoms of high anxiety such as headache, giddiness, chest pain, palpitations, sweating and abdominal pain respond well. It has been used to help soldiers from war cope with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A 2019 study suggests that yoga nidra can alleviate stress and improve self-esteem of university students. There is evidence that yoga nidra helps to relieve stress. An ancient technique from India, it has now spread worldwide and is also being applied by the US Army to assist soldiers to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.


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