Yoga Nidra, literally translated to ‘Yogic Sleep’, is a way of consciously relaxing the mind-body complex. Regular practice of Yoga Nidra has shown positive results in cases of heart disease, asthma, stress related problems, headaches, migraines, hypertension, depression, insomnia etc. Along with quiet and calm, the practice of Yoga Nidra also brings about peace of mind. The mind is trained to go into the deep sleep phase of the sleep cycle (the dreamless state). However, this is done consciously with the use of emotions, sensations and images. The difference between sleeping and yogic sleep lies in the control of the subconscious mind. In Yoga Nidra there is a full control over the subconscious mind while in sleeping there is none. By being in touch with the subconscious mind it is possible to train the mind to let go of negativity and harmful habits. In fact, it can even be an effective tool to inculcate good habits.
To understand the difference between Yoga Nidra and deep sleep at a scientific level, it’s important to know about brain waves. At different times of the day, and depending on the brain activity, brain waves of different frequencies occur in the brain. These are:
Beta waves : associated with daily activity. Also associated with stress and tension.
Alpha waves : associated with a relaxed state of mind.
Theta waves : associated with a drowsiness, half asleep state of mind. When you’re half asleep but still conscious of what is going on around you.
Delta waves : associated with deep sleep, the state of sleep which is completely unconscious and, therefore, dreamless. These are the brainwaves experienced during Yoga Nidra. However, unlike in Deep Sleep, in Yoga Nidra, you are consciously sleeping.
In the practice of Yoga Nidra, the brain experiences a conscious and gradual shift from each of these brain waves until it reaches the delta waves consciously. However, simply the occurrence of Delta waves in the brain does not denote Yoga Nidra. It denotes deep sleep, which may also be unconscious. Yoga Nidra will always be conscious deep sleep.
An experiment was first conducted on this in 1971 by a yogi called Swami Rama in Kansas by the Menninger Foundation. Swami Rama basically relaxed into Yoga Nidra while scientists monitored his brain activity. The pattern and duration of the brain waves was pre-decided. In addition to this, scientists kept on asking Swami Rama questions. Results showed that Swami Rama was indeed able to move through the various states of consciousness at will. He was also able to tell them the questions he was asked while in that state as well as the talk that was going on in the lab during the Yoga Nidra!!!
What This Means for You
This is good news for everyone suffering deep-seated psychological issues. The origin of problems in our body is usually the brain. If you are able to tap into that part of your brain which is holding on to negativity and are able to release deep seated and deep rooted tension, then you will be rid of many problems standing in the way of a better quality of life for you.
On the physical level you will see that your sleep improves, your efficiency at work improves, your concentration levels improve. Essentially, you’re upping the ante on your quality of life. So start Yoga Nidra today!