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  • Why Yoga Nidra is (Now) an Essential Part of My Self Care

    yoga nidra

     At the beginning of the year I decided to do a better job at self-care. I take care of everybody else all day long, but don’t always put as much effort as I should into taking care of me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t take care of myself at all. I do. I just knew I could do a better job of it. So I made a plan. Step one was to do yoga nidra once a week for 30 minutes.

    What the Heck is Yoga Nidra?

    Yoga nidra is a relaxation practice that is often called “yogic sleep,” “lucid sleep,” or “conscious sleep.” Don’t let the name fool you, you don’t need to be a yogi to do yoga nidra, nor do you actually sleep. All you need is a comfortable place to lie down on your back with your arms by your sides, palms up, and your legs stretched out and slightly rolled outward; like the picture at the top of this post.

    Then, you listen to and follow audio instructions that gradually internalize all of your senses, except hearing. At this point you are pretty relaxed, as if in a light meditative state. But unlike mediation, where you focus on just one thing, the instructions will now have you bring your awareness to each body part rather quickly, one after the other, while simultaneously repeating the name of, and relaxing, that part. After that, you are instructed to visualize various things; the specific items you are asked to visualize will vary from instructor to instructor. Finally, you are brought back to your normal waking state.

    Why Would I do That?

    A fair question to ask would be: Why would I go through all that trouble for some relaxation?

    Well, first of all, it’s not much trouble. Here’s why:

    • I assume you have somewhere to lie down comfortably without rearranging the furniture, so that part’s easy.
    • You don’t have to memorize anything, because you listen to the instructions each time.
    • It doesn’t have to cost anything. YouTube has many yoga nidra videos that you can listen to for free. If you don’t like the voice, pace, or visualizations of one video, next time choose a different one.

    Second, it has the following benefits:

    • It’s incredibly relaxing
    • Stress relief
    • Improved sleep
    • Better body awareness, such as where hidden areas of tension are
    • It reduces worry and anxiety

    I’ve only been doing yoga nidra for just over 3 months and when I missed a couple weeks recently, I really noticed it; my sleep went back to it’s normal perimenopausal temperamental self. You can bet I won’t let myself skip it again, no matter how busy I am.

    Have you ever done yoga nidra? What did you think? Tell me about it in the comments below, and then share this with anyone you know who might need a little help with their relaxation or stress relief.