The study of you, Happy. It's your Journey.

The Research: Benefits of NIDRA

Your mind is your servant, your body is your vehicle and your soul is your residence.

~Yogi Bhanjan Kundalini Yoga

Do you ever have that moment where you wake up and consciousness lightly brushes your senses? You are motionless and have yet to move, or even take a breath. Perhaps you do not yet have the function to move but are briefly in between the world of asleep and awake. Or that moment in Shavasana; your muscles, senses, and thoughts are completely unwound, untangled, and at ease. You are an exhale, on the brink of remaining in this world. In those fleeting moments, when you send your senses out, how far and where does your consciousness go?

The term yoga-nidra is an act of meditation to reach an altered state of consciousness through guided imagery and relaxation. During yoga-nidra, we enter into a state that is neither sleep nor awakening; neither concentration nor hypnotism.  The mind is in a psychic sleep, but unlike sleep where movements spontaneously appear, the body remains completely relaxed and bears witness to dream-like fragments  It is a total loss of body consciousness, a moment between sleep, as if experiencing death, before death.

The fact is that there is nothing more beautiful, more worthy, or more conscious than you.

~Yogi Bhanjan Kundalini Yoga

As I begin my first yoga-nidra practice it starts with om and the vibrations take me much further than the room and the walls that surround me. As I repeat to myself “I relaxed and alert”  I am kept grounded to immediate surroundings; a bird is singing, a car motor comes and goes, I think I even faintly hear a mower. I’m close to a window and I can feel the heat of the day streaming in, but these are all minimal distractions.

The visual imagery begins as I invite my left hand to feel heavy, leaden. To let my fingers relax. The paralysis and dullness move to my upper arm. The imagery and visualizations are strikingly powerful and I can feel my heartbeat in my elbow, a sensation I have never felt. I visually allow my hip to open and blossom letting light and warmth seep in. This continues as I am prompted to work my way systematically across the body, suggesting its many pieces relax. As one side is completed and left alone to be, awareness is brought to the other side in the same process. As both sides are brought to a catatonic state, we bring awareness to our vasculature, I entice it to relax. I can almost feel the veins relaxing and expanding, my arteries decompressing and loosening their constriction, I know my blood pressure and heart rate are markedly lower. Lastly, we bring attention to specific organs as if flowing nurturing energy into them, caressing them to peace. An odd feeling as you cannot see your pancreas, liver, or intestines.

It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, and intelligence.

~B.K.S. Iyengar

The body is heavy and completely relaxed. I feel like I’ve melted into the mat, the muscles have fallen off the bone and I am floating through the essence of nothingness. Visually I let my consciousness flow, it seems to make it out of the room. It doesn’t use a door or need to follow down the hall. Instead, it flows through the walls, I can imagine the bird that is singing, the car that went by, or even the person mowing, but that is just in the yard. I extend it further, down throughout the neighborhood, through the streets of South Florida, and expel out into the world on the sun’s rays, riding on the wind’s breeze and rushing with the flow of the ocean. I balance on the cusp of awake and asleep. And I am. A bell breaks the hushed silence, and my awareness slides back in. The first sensations tingle to the surface and I do find myself awake, present, and refreshed.

Yoga Nidra is one of the best-known techniques to induce complete physical, mental, and emotional relaxation.  It is a way to reset, reboot, and recharge the system. The systematic sequence of body awareness and breathing exercises activates the parasympathetic nervous system allowing the body and mind the opportunity to resolve underlying tension.  The calming of this hyper-aroused state and the release of dopamine during practice can stimulate a positive emotional state and increase motivation.  Furthermore, studies show the positive effects of yoga nidra on various physiological and psychological criteria such as insomnia, addictive behavior, chronic diseases, pain therapy, pregnancies, geriatrics, asthma as well as disorders of the cardiovascular system. These reports are not only based on self-reports but confirmed by imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) and electroencephalography (EEG), that show sustained changes in the brain.

Scientific Research — 1

Defining Yoga-Nidra: Traditional Accounts, Physiological Research, and Future Directions

Source

Manuel Fernandez Int J Yoga Therap (2013) 23 (1): 11–16.

Background

The term yoga-nidra has been used in many empirical studies to refer to relaxation and guided imagery. These techniques do not represent the intention or physiological correlates of yoga- nidra discussed in the traditional yoga literature. We propose an operational definition of yoga-nidra that is supported by several physiologically testable hypotheses regarding its out- comes and effects. Traditional descriptions of yoga-nidra and contemporary accounts of its practice are reviewed, and studies examining the physiological correlates of yoga-nidra are exam- ined.

Conclusion

These studies demonstrate that what is often referred to as yoga-nidra in contemporary research is often a state of deep relaxation and imagery generation that is a precursor to yoga- nidra. During this state, alpha and theta brainwaves, as opposed to the delta wave activity found during the state of yoga-nidra, are reported.

Scientific Research — 2

Yoga Nidra and its Impact on Students’ well being

Source

Kamakhya Kumar, Yoga-Mimansa Vol. XXXVI, No. 1; 31-35, April 2004

 

Background

The present study aimed, at finding out the effect of Yoga nidra on stress, anxiety and general well being on college going students. The study conducted at the yoga clinic of Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya. Practice time was 30 minutes the duration was 6 months. 

Conclusion

The result shows a significant change as yoga nidra positively decrease the stress level of the subjects whereas no significant change seen in anxiety level. As well as yoga nidra positively increase the general well being of the subjects.

Scientific Research — 3

Science of Yoga Nidra 

Source

Pandi-Perumal SR, Spence DW, Srivastava N, Kanchibhotla D, Kumar K, Sharma GS, Gupta R, Batmanabane G. The Origin and Clinical Relevance of Yoga Nidra. Sleep Vigil. 2022;6(1):61-84. doi: 10.1007/s41782-022-00202-7. Epub 2022 Apr 23. PMID: 35496325; PMCID: PMC9033521.

Conclusion

“Clinical studies have shown that yoga nidra meditation is associated with positive physiological changes, including improvements in several hematological variables, red blood cell counts, blood glucose levels, and hormonal status. Two neuroimaging studies have shown that yoga nidra produces changes in endogenous dopamine release and cerebral blood flow, a further confirmation that its effects on the CNS are objectively measurable. The practice has also been shown to reduce psychometrically measured indices of mild depression and anxiety, although these benefits were not shown in an experimental study to extend to severe depression or severe anxiety.”

Scientific Research — 4

Effectiveness of Yoga Nidra in reducing stress in school-going adolescents: An experimental study.

Source

Complementary therapies in clinical practice
Complement Ther Clin Pract] 2021 Nov; Vol. 45, pp. 101462. Date of Electronic Publication: 2021 Jul 29

Background

Background and Objectives: Academic stress can exert severe stress in adolescents answering their career deciding board exams. The present study attempted to understand the efficacy of Yoga Nidra (YN) in mitigating psychosocial stress.

Conclusion

This study shows that YN effectively reduced psychosocial stress in adolescents and could be useful in school curriculum.

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