Peace from Yoga Nidra aka NSDR
Over these last 3.5 years, we’ve noticed how our community members often come to the practice of microdosing to help manage anxiety levels.
In response to the high volume of questions about the power of microdosing and anxiety in general, I wrote an article called 10x your Microdosing Practice with These Habits.
This email unpacks a fascinating practice called Yoga Nidra or NSDR (Non-Sleep Deep Rest)
Happy to report that this yoga practice does not require a room of 30 sweaty people or any kind of funky poses.
It requires simply that we lay down and let ourselves be guided.
Often referred to as “yogic sleep,” Yoga Nidra is a profound state of conscious relaxation that offers numerous benefits for overall wellness.
So what IS Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra facilitates deep relaxation by systematically guiding us into a state of complete physical, mental, and emotional calmness.
It is a guided meditation where we lie down in a comfortable position, close our eyes, and follow the instructions of a trained facilitator or an audio recording.
Consisting of a series of guided visualizations, body scans, breath awareness, and relaxation techniques.
Yup, that’s it.
Entering such a state of profound relaxation dramatically reduces the body’s stress response, and the parasympathetic nervous system is activated enabling a significant reduction in stress, anxiety, and tension.
If struggling with sleep disturbances or insomnia, Yoga Nidra can be a game-changer.
Through the ages
Over the years, Yoga Nidra gained recognition and popularity beyond traditional yogic circles.
Its effectiveness in reducing stress, improving sleep, and promoting overall well-being attracted the attention of medical professionals, therapists, and researchers.
Since then, Yoga Nidra began to be incorporated into various therapeutic settings, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and wellness programs, to complement conventional treatments and promote relaxation and healing.
Today, the practice of Yoga Nidra has continued to evolve and adapt to modern lifestyles.
With the advent of technology, guided Yoga Nidra recordings and smartphone applications have made it more accessible to individuals seeking relaxation and self-care in the comfort of their own homes.
What does Yoga Nidra have to do with NSDR?
The link between Yoga Nidra and NSDR lies in their shared objective of providing a deep state of rest and rejuvenation without actual sleep.
Yoga Nidra offers a structured and accessible pathway to enter this state of deep restfulness, making it a valuable practice for those seeking the benefits of restorative rest without the need for conventional sleep.
Yoga Nidra can be considered a form of NSDR as it induces a state of deep relaxation and restfulness, even though practitioners remain awake and conscious throughout the practice.
During Yoga Nidra, the body and mind enter a state of profound rest, similar to the restorative effects of sleep.
It allows the nervous system to shift into the parasympathetic mode, which promotes relaxation, healing, and rejuvenation.
While the experience of NSDR may encompass various techniques or practices, Yoga Nidra stands out as a well-established and structured method to achieve non-sleep deep rest
- Integrative Amrit Method (IAM) Yoga Nidra: this is a combination of ancient yogic techniques with modern psychology and neuroscience principles.
IAM Yoga Nidra incorporates body scanning, breath awareness, and affirmations to promote physical, mental, and emotional healing and transformation.
- Sankalpa Yoga Nidra: Sankalpa means “intention” or “resolve” in Sanskrit. This technique invites us to focus on identifying and cultivating a positive affirmation or intention.
The practice involves repeating the chosen sankalpa during guided relaxation, aiming to harness the power of the subconscious mind to manifest positive changes in our lives.
- Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra: Developed by Jennifer Reis, Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra is a more holistic approach combining guided relaxation techniques with gentle movement and breathing exercises.
There are several more types of Yoga Nidra that I have not listed here but suffice it to say the technique I suggest here in this article is simple, achievable, and accessible.
What the science says
There are two important papers that Dr. Huberman mentions during his conversation with Tim Ferris.
The National Library of Medicine published a study just last year called The Origin and Clinical Relevance of Yoga Nidra where they concluded the following:
“The ultimate goal of yoga nidra is to produce a relaxation response that is incompatible with anxiety and depression and which therefore counters their disruptive internal processes. The studies which have been reviewed here thus support the conclusion that yoga nidra reduces anxiety responses, which are central causes of many other psychological difficulties.”
A second study, also published in 2022 summarised that:
“Overall, a large, heterogeneous sample showed that already a very short dose of meditation can positively influence stress, sleep, and well-being.”
In short, teaching our bodies and our minds to move away from a state of cortisol fuelled inner stress is key to naturally maintaining equilibrium throughout our day.
All day, every day
Yoga Nidra is a practice that can be practiced at any time of day whether it’s used as a midday power nap or as a sleep aid when dealing with insomnia, the way Dr. Andrew Huberman practices intrigues me the most.
He practices first thing in the morning after waking, he explains it further here.
Just 10-15 minutes immediately after waking provides the brain an opportunity to be as fresh and alert as possible for the day ahead.
Yoga Nidra has a profound impact on cognitive function and enhancing mental clarity, especially first thing in the morning.
As the mind enters a state of deep relaxation, mental chatter subsides, and the brainwaves slow down.
This slowing of brainwave activity allows for greater focus, concentration, and heightened awareness.
Yoga Nidra bridges the gap between the mind and body allowing us to BE IN OUR BODIES with intention and practice.
Through guided visualization and body awareness techniques, the practice helps to develop a greater understanding and appreciation for physical sensations and experiences.
This heightened mind-body integration can lead to improved self-care, self-confidence, and a more profound sense of embodiment.
The overall consequence and positive domino effects that Yoga Nidra offers, in short, it’s a unique opportunity for physical and mental rejuvenation.
The practice encourages the body and mind to enter a state of deep rest, allowing for natural healing and restoration.
Go on, lie down for a few moments!
Yoga Nidra is a practice that is free and widely available on all platforms such as YouTube and podcasts.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Gaia Is a well-known member-supported media network. This platform offers thousands of ad-free yoga practices and much more
- Ally Boothroyd – Sorovara Yoga has one of my favorite Youtube Channels for Yoga Nidra. Her voice and tempo are perfect for restorative deep rest
- Kamini Desai is the founder and director of IAM education. Her voice is soothing and her experience spans over 3 decades
- Liam Gellen is a wonderful alternative if you prefer a male voice. He was a senior-level executive before becoming the CEO of Amrit Yoga Institute.
- Dr. Andrew Huberman guides us through a quick 10-minute Yoga Nidra session
- The Yoga Nidra Network provides a huge database of resources including guided meditation, videos, teacher training, events, and more.
- If you want to learn more about this practice, Udemy has a 12-day course on Yoga Nidra
We also have our own Yoga Nidra Spotify playlist, in which I and Nils (founder of Microdose Pro and Human Pro), add our own favorite Yoga Nidra sessions, make sure to follow!
As we know, the conveyor belt of life is only going to move quicker, if we let it.
Making the conscious determination to slow down regularly, and give our bodies and minds a moment to catch up will reap benefits far into the future.
It requires nothing else but a little bit of our time and a quiet room.
Do it today, you’ll be so glad you did.
As always, flow strong.