Sleep Well With Yoga Nidra During Covid-19 and Beyond
Updated: Jan 17
Want to sleep more soundly? The ancient practice of Yoga Nidra can help. The ultimate "Power Nap" with surprising benefits.
Are you finding yourself unable to sleep well lately? You're not alone. It's a well-known fact that the global pandemic has exacerbated sleeping difficulties, having a direct and negative impact not only on health and wellbeing, but our mood in general, not to mention reduced productivity levels at work and the inability to focus when needed.
Sleep and Covid-19
Getting a good night's sleep is important, but the reality is that even before the pandemic, busy and stressful lifestyles meant many of us were already suffering from insomnia at some level. Michael Twery, Ph.D., director of the NHLBI’s National Centre on Sleep Disorders Research, agrees. He acknowledges that while NIH researchers have long been studying the biological underpinnings of sleep and exploring ways to prevent and resolve sleep problems, they are only now beginning to study the effects of COVID-19 on sleep.
“Getting a good night’s sleep during the pandemic helps boost the immune system and should be an important part of your daily routine, along with healthy eating and staying physically active,” Twery said.
45 Minutes of Yoga Nidra is like 3 hours Sleep
So, where does Yoga Nidra come into play here? Well, "Nidra" is the ancient Indian Sanskrit word for sleep. Yoga Nidra, also sometimes called yogic or psychic sleep, is a form of guided meditation that leads to a state that almost feels like sleep. Originally derived from the tantras, Yoga Nidra is a powerful and ancient technique in which you learn to deeply relax consciously, whilst remaining awake.
It's very effective; in fact it is a widely touted fact that studies have shown that when awaking from a 45-minute Yoga Nidra session, most people will feel like they had up to three hours of REM sleep. Yoga Nidra greatly assists in allowing people to achieve the ultimate level of peace and relaxation needed to greatly improve the chances of regularly gaining a full eight hours sleep at night.
I first learned to lead Yoga Nidra sessions by completing a fascinating 100 hours training at Yoga Alliance Continued Education Provider Earth Yoga Village, Palolem in Goa, India where I was taught in the traditional steps designed by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of Satyananda Yoga and the Bihar School of Yoga.
The steps gently lead the participant to consciously enter a mind state, a state that we are in fact, all already very familiar with; That is, that magical dreamy time, just before we open our eyes in the morning, but before we are yet fully awake; In science, this state is actually known as the Hypnogogic State and in Yoga terms, it is said to be the place where we see our dreams in the "Chidakasha" - the mind's screen, which is said to be the the link between the conscious, subconscious and super-conscious.
Plant the Seeds of Your Dreams
Purposefully entering into this relaxed state for a length of time via a guided Yoga Nidra session, whilst laying on the floor, face and palms up, on a yoga mat in Savasana Pose (or Corpse Pose) offers us an easy-to-reach yet deep, meditation-like experience, where we are completely relaxed, delving into our own powerful subconscious. It is said that in Yoga Nidra, you can plant the seeds of your life purpose, your personal resolve, dreams and ambitions in the "Chidakasha" and they will indeed grow. These seeds that are planted are given the name "Sankalpa" in Yoga Philosophy; but if this is all too "out there" for you, worry not! Regardless of whether or not you believe in these ancient yogic terms is not so important, the reported benefits of practising Yoga Nidra cannot be denied.
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
Through a regular Yoga Nidra practice, everyday tensions are significantly reduced, offering us the perfect tool for stress management we might be seeking during a global pandemic. You may also find that you have far more energy in your waking hours, more focus and extra creativity too; its practice enhances concentration, memory and learning.
If anxiety is keeping you awake at night, know that Yoga Nidra can be a hugely effective tool to completely relax the mind and body. It greatly assists in allowing students to achieve the level of peace and relaxation that is needed for a good night's sleep.
Better than high-tech mattresses, noise machines that fill the bedroom with nature sounds, expensive eye masks - or even counting sheep; Yoga Nidra simply allows us around 40 mins of "Sacred Me-Time" and offers us the gift of pure escape and calm to find the answers we are seeking from within rather than outside of ourselves.
How Can I Practice Yoga Nidra?
Yoga studios usually offer Yoga Nidra sessions on their timetables, but at the moment many of us globally are unable to attend a Yoga Studio due to the Pandemic Restrictions and Lockdowns. You can however find a wide array of gorgeous, pre-recorded Yoga Nidra Sessions online via YouTube, which are really worth listening to and will give you a taste of what Yoga Nidra is all about. Often these are shorter than the traditional sessions, generally lasting around 20 minutes.
I offer Yoga Nidra sessions online which last around 45 minutes and led in the traditional way I was taught. You can contact me, Karen-Marie Axworthy via my website www.artyogalovelight.com for more information. Yoga Nidra is a form of yoga that I am totally in love with for the way it can help anyone who is open to it, learn how to completely relax and reap all the surprising rewards mentioned here - and possibly more.
One benefit that comes with the fact we are in the midst of various pandemic restrictions globally, is that although guided Yoga Nidra classes in yoga studios are great for relaxation and to de-stress your life, you would usually still have to get up when the class is done and drive yourself home -which can undo all the good work! Online sessions mean you’ll be guided through a full Yoga Nidra practice, allowing you to seamlessly move into the sleep stage should you choose - which is total bliss!
(the light in me bows to the light in you)
Written by Karen-Marie Axworthy,
Art Yoga Teacher & Founder of Art Yoga Love Light
⦁ 200 hours (RYS) Yoga Alliance “The Art of Yoga” teacher training with Natalia Fata, Dubai, UAE (2019)
⦁ 100 hours (YACEP) Yoga Alliance “Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra” teacher training, Goa, India (2020)
⦁ 200 Hours (RYS) Yoga Alliance "Maya Blu Yoga Teacher Training" with Flavia de Simone, Dubai, UAE (2020)