By Dr. Rita Khanna
What are the benefits of Yoga Nidra? In the modern scenario, human life has become very fast, hectic, and demanding. The present lifestyle demands adjustment on the part of the individual. As per our coping resources, we try to adjust to this changing world. Some adjust by becoming overactive, and others by withdrawing from the situation. When we fail to make a proper adjustment according to the demands of the situation, a state of negative stress or distress develops in our personality, leading to mental or psychological problems. In most people, the mind always remains in a state of arousal and tension. Yoga Nidra, as a technique of Pratyahara, not only provides relaxation to the body and mind but also has several other benefits.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
Minimizes tension: In the modern world, the major international problems are not poverty, drugs, or fear of war; it is tension and only tension. A high percentage of people remain in a state of tension and frustration. This continuous tension in the body, mind, and emotions predisposes the individual toward psychological and psychosomatic disorders. Yoga Nidra has been shown to have several mental and physical benefits. Below are some of the most well-established benefits of Yoga Nidra.
1. Improved sleep: One of the most common reasons people start practicing Yoga Nidra is to improve their sleep quality. There is a good reason for this – studies have shown that Yoga Nidra can help people fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.
2. Reducing stress and anxiety: Yoga Nidra has also reduced stress and anxiety. This is likely because it helps to regulate the nervous system and promote a sense of relaxation.
3. Pain relief: If you suffer from chronic pain, Yoga Nidra can be a helpful tool for finding relief. This is because it helps to release tension from the body and calm the mind.
4. Improved concentration and focus: Yoga Nidra can also help improve concentration and focus due to its calming effect on the mind. This makes it an excellent practice for students or anyone who wants to boost their productivity.
5. Boosted immune system: last but not least, Yoga Nidra has also been shown to boost the immune system. This is likely because it helps reduce stress, which is a major contributor to illness.
Modern psychology and Yogic philosophy believe in three kinds of tension – muscular, emotional, and mental – which can be progressively released through the systematic and regular practice of Yoga Nidra. Muscular tension results from nervous and endocrinal imbalances. It manifests in the form of stiffness and rigidity in the physical body. In Yoga Nidra, the body is progressively relaxed, which in turn releases the accumulated muscular tensions.
Practical Application to Daily Life
In day-to-day life, individuals fail to express their emotions freely and openly. As a result, the emotions are repressed and manifest as emotional tension. In Yoga Nidra, the practitioner slowly moves toward the deeper realms of the mind, where he or she confronts deep-rooted emotional tensions. When the practitioner recognizes these emotional tensions with full awareness and a witnessing attitude, repressed emotions are released, and the practitioner becomes calm and tranquil.
Rotation of Consciousness
Due to excessive activity on the mental plane, the mind always remains in a state of arousal, which results in mental tension. Throughout life, the mind is fed with negative data. In the practice, especially in rotation of consciousness and breath awareness, the mind is relaxed, releasing mental tensions, and the benefits of Yoga Nidra are realized. When we practice yoga Nidra, we consciously rotate our awareness within ourselves from the gross to the subtle levels of existence. This internal rotation of consciousness has many benefits. On the most basic level, it helps us to relax and de-stress. It is a form of conscious relaxation that can effectively reduce anxiety and promote sleep.
Deeper Level of Consciousness
On a deeper level, this internal rotation can help us to access the deeper levels of our consciousness. It can help us to connect with our higher self or true nature. This connection can lead to a sense of inner peace and well-being. Yoga Nidra can also be used as a tool for personal transformation. By rotating our consciousness inward, we can begin to let go of unhealthy patterns and behaviors. We can start to create new, healthier patterns in our lives. This transformation process can lead to greater happiness and fulfillment in life.
Swami Sivananda stated, “A single hour of Yoga Nidra is as restful as four hours of conventional sleep.” When you`re feeling tense, it can be hard to relax. Yoga Nidra is a form of guided relaxation that can help you let go of physical and mental tension. The goal is to achieve a state of complete relaxation.
Train the Mind
The Sankalpa taken in each session of Yoga Nidra is perhaps the most effective technique for training the mind. Anything in life can fail you, but not the Sankalpa made during Yoga Nidra. A Sankalpa is taken and sowed in the subconscious mind when relaxed and receptive. The subconscious mind is very obedient and hence carries out the orders immediately. In Yoga Nidra, the Sankalpa trains the subconscious mind, and the ordinary mind automatically follows the path.
Sowing the Seed of Sankalpa
The Sankalpa helps train the mind because it is planted when it is relaxed and ready to absorb and accept it. The essential thing is that the resolution should be planted with strong willpower and feeling. Many people make conscious resolves guided by intellect, which rarely brings results. The Sankalpa taken at the beginning of Yoga Nidra is like sowing a seed, and the Sankalpa at the end is like irrigating it. So, the resolve taken in Yoga Nidra always brings results if it is taken sincerely.
Relax the Mind
The brain is the mediator between the mind, body, and emotions. In Yoga Nidra, intensifying the awareness of the body stimulates the brain. When the awareness is rotated on the different body parts, it not only induces physical relaxation but also clears the nerve pathways to the brain. Each body part has an existing center in the cerebral white matter, named by researchers as ‘motor homunculus’ or little man. The sequence of rotation of awareness in Yoga Nidra follows the map in the cerebral white matter of the brain.
Relaxation in the Brain
When the awareness is rotated in the same sequence, again and again, it induces a flow of Pranic energy within the neuronal circuit of the motor homunculus of the brain. This Pranic flow brings in a subjective experience of relaxation in the brain. The state where the brain is completely relaxed results in mental relaxation. The practice and benefits of Yoga Nidra bring alpha dominance in the brain, characterized by mental relaxation.
Clears up the Unconscious
We tend to repress many wishes, desires, and conflicts from early childhood. Whenever a situation threatens the ego, the defense mechanisms are called upon, and the conflicting situation is repressed or suppressed to the unconscious. The ego suppresses all traumatic experiences, unfulfilled desires, and threatening situations to the subconscious and unconscious realms of the mind.
In the deeper realms of the mind, this conflicting and frustrating matter does not die but remains alive and later manifests in various pathological symptoms. The repressed desires, wishes, and situations remain in the form of symbols in the unconscious mind. During the Yoga Nidra, the instructor asks the practitioner to visualize certain symbols and images with a witnessing attitude. If the symbols and images are selected properly, then they are following the symbols of the unconscious. An abstract association is created between the guided imagery and the associated repressed experiences of the unconscious.
Several examples from the past indicate that creativity is a characteristic of a relaxed and calm mind. Whether it be Newton, Einstein, and Mozart, all made significant and vital contributions to the field of creativity when they allowed themselves to relax deeply enough for the images and forms of their unconscious mind to manifest as solutions to their particular problems. Regular practice and benefits of Yoga Nidra help in making a bridge between the conscious and unconscious mind. Slowly one becomes tuned with the unconscious workings, and then the power of creativity automatically awakens.
Enhances Memory and Learning Capacity
The technique of Yoga Nidra helps increase learning and memory capacity. When Yoga Nidra is used in education, both hemispheres of the student’s brain are involved in learning the subject, whereas in classroom teaching, the left hemisphere functions more. In this way, Yoga Nidra involves the total mind in learning.
Stress is an individual’s cognitive or emotional response to any situation. Therefore, stress demands adjustment; when the demands of the situation exceed the individual’s ability. As a result of overwhelming stress, distress may manifest in mental and physical symptoms of abnormality. Yoga Nidra is an effective tool for managing stress. It helps to counter the effects of stress by promoting relaxation and restoring balance in the body. Yoga Nidra works by inducing a state of deep relaxation.
Break the Cycle
One session allows the body and mind to break free from the cycle of stress. In this relaxed state, the body can heal and repair itself. The mind can also let go of negative thoughts and emotions that contribute to stress. This allows for a sense of peace and well-being to return. Yoga Nidra is a safe and natural way to manage stress. All you need is a comfortable place to lie down and recordings of Yoga Nidra instructions.
The practice of Yoga Nidra helps in building up coping ability. The practitioner of Yoga Nidra slowly becomes aware of the inherent dormant potentialities and thus prevents himself from becoming a victim of distress. Stress-related disorders evolve gradually through four stages. In the first stage, psychological symptoms like anxiety and irritability arise due to the overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system. The second stage is characterized by related physical symptoms like high blood pressure, increased heart rate, etc. In the third stage, the abnormalities manifest clinically in the organ systems. In the last stage, severe symptoms in particular organs result, which need long-term medical management.
Yoga Nidra is a preventive and curative therapy in the first three stages of stress-related disease. During stress, the sympathetic nervous system becomes activated, and the organism adopts the ‘fight or flight mechanism. In normal circumstances, the parasympathetic system takes over after the emergency goes. In this way, the practice of Yoga Nidra counteracts stress.
Manages Psychological Disorders
When the individual fails to adjust to the situation, distress results; some individuals are prone to distress due to their unconscious urge to remain tense. When distress continues for a long period, it may result in psychological disorders like neurosis or even psychosis.
Manages Psychosomatic Diseases
Yoga Nidra aims at releasing suppressed and repressed conflicts from the unconscious, thereby relaxing the mind. For example, anxiety, hostility, insomnia, etc., and psychosomatic diseases like asthma, coronary heart disease, cancer, and hypertension are among the many problems and conditions.
Asthma and Yoga Nidra
The practice of various stages of Yoga Nidra, like Sankalpa, muscular relaxation, breath awareness, and guided imagery, are significant and effective modes of therapy for asthmatics. Asthmatic patients showed improved respiratory function and greater freedom of breathing after intensive training in Yoga Nidra. Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the lungs and airways. The asthma symptoms can be mild or severe, including shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Yoga Nidra is a form of deep relaxation that can help manage asthma symptoms. Yoga Nidra can help to reduce stress and promote better sleep. It can also help to improve lung function and increase your tolerance to triggers.
Cardiac Patients and Yoga Nidra
Cardiac patients can benefit from yoga Nidra in many ways. Firstly, cardiac patients who practice Yoga Nidra have shown a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate. Secondly, patients that suffer from arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, have improved their condition after practicing. Thirdly, cardiac patients tend to feel more relaxed and less anxious after participating in Yoga Nidra sessions. Finally, these benefits can lead to a better quality of life for cardiac patients.
Cancer and Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is extremely beneficial for those suffering from cancer. An American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care study found that cancer patients who practiced yoga Nidra had reduced fatigue, improved quality of life, and decreased anxiety and depression. Another study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy found that cancer patients who practiced Yoga Nidra had reduced levels of stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. If you are suffering from cancer or know someone who is, consider incorporating Yoga Nidra into your/their daily routine. It may be the key to improving your/their quality of life.
Releasing Repressed Matter
Cancer research has revealed that the repressed and suppressed material of the subconscious and unconscious mind reinforces the multiplication of anarchic tumor cells, resulting in cancer. In the state of complete relaxation, patients practice the visualization technique, which helps bring up the repressed unconscious matter to the present area of awareness.
Pranic healing is a system of energy medicine that uses prana, or life force, to heal the body. It is based on the principle that the body is a self-healing organism and that prana is the life force that sustains it. Pranic healing addresses imbalances in the body’s energy field and restores health and vitality. It is said to be effective for a wide range of conditions, including physical and mental health issues, as well as emotional and spiritual concerns. Pranic healing is said to work by clearing blockages in the flow of prana in the body. These blockages can be caused by various factors, including negative emotions, stress, trauma, and unhealthy lifestyle habits. By clearing these blockages, pranic healing promotes balance and harmony in the body’s energy field, leading to improved health and well-being. This kind of healing is termed Pranic healing.
International Journal of Yoga Therapy
A study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy found that participants who practiced Yoga Nidra experienced a significant decrease in symptoms of anxiety and panic and a decrease in overall anxiety levels. Yoga Nidra helps to calm the mind and body by promoting a state of deep relaxation. This can be extremely beneficial for those who suffer from panic attacks and anxiety, as it can help to break the cycle of panic and anxiety. Additionally, Yoga Nidra can help increase levels of serotonin and GABA in the brain, which are neurotransmitters that play a role in regulating mood and anxiety.
In Yoga Nidra, visualization can also initiate healing on the mental plane. Here the cancer is visualized shrinking in size; an army of white blood cells is visualized fighting the cancer cells. This results in the activation of dormant mental power, i.e., the power of the unconscious to heal the infected part. When the body is visualized to be in perfect health, again and again, the inherent potency of the mind starts healing cancer.
In most cases of cancer, the patients become devoid of hope and give up the fight against the disease, further worsening the situation. To overcome cancer, enormous willpower and sustained endurance are needed. For this purpose, Sankalpa is practiced in Yoga Nidra. The Sankalpa helps build up the patient’s willpower and optimism because it is repeatedly sowed in the subconscious and unconscious mind.
How it Works
In this way, by developing confidence, willpower, and optimism, by clearing up the unconscious repression, and by healing the cancer site at the Pranic and mental levels, The practice and benefits of Yoga Nidra may help with cancer recovery. Yoga Nidra is a state of complete physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. It is a form of guided meditation that takes you to the deepest level of relaxation, where the body can heal and repair itself. Yoga Nidra is a powerful tool for stress relief and managing anxiety. It can also help improve sleep quality and reduce chronic pain. The practice involves lying down in savasana (corpse pose) and following a guided meditation.
What to Expect
The instructions typically include focusing on the breath, Sankalpa, body scanning, and visualizations. Yoga Nidra allows you to tap into the power of the subconscious mind. This part of the mind controls our automatic functions like heart rate and breathing. Regular practice of Yoga Nidra can help to bring about lasting changes in your life by helping to break old habits, reducing stress levels, and improving your overall health and well-being.
The technique of Yoga Nidra has preventive, promotive, and curative values. It prevents stress and stress-related disorders by inducing deep physical, emotional and mental relaxation by training the mind to remain calm and quiet and rooting out the repressed desires and thoughts from the deeper realms of the mind. As a promotive science, Yoga Nidra awakens the inherent creativity and promotes the learning and memory abilities of the practitioner. In our present modern lifestyle, where psychological and psychosomatic problems are on the rise, the technique and benefits of Yoga Nidra may serve as a real boon for mankind.
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Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna’s Yogashaastra Studio.
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Dr. Rita Khanna
Dr. Rita Khanna is a well-known name in Yoga and Naturopathy. She was initiated into this discipline over 25 years ago by the world-famous Swami Adyatmananda of Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh (India).
Dr. Rita Khanna firmly believes that Yoga is a scientific process that helps us to lead a healthy and disease-free life. Over the years, she has been successfully practicing these therapies and providing succor to several chronic and terminally ill patients through Yoga, Diet, and Naturopathy. She is also imparting Yoga Teachers Training.
Dr. Rita Khanna is currently running a Yoga Studio in Secunderabad (Hyderabad, India).
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