Yoga Nidra for Sleep

In our busy and stressful routines, having adequate sleep has become a challenge. It often increases our anxiety and overall fatigue, leading to a decrease in our productivity. Today, many people are suffering from insomnia, and it can impact their mental and physical well-being. Compensating for this lack of sleep is often difficult, and many people struggle to find an effective solution. Various techniques have been used to try and get adequate restorative sleep, but many are still looking for a more reliable remedy.

If you are looking for a natural way to induce relaxation, yoga nidra is a perfect option. Yoga nidra is an ancient practice of guided meditation. It enables the practitioner to restore mental balance and clarity while providing restful sleep. In this blog post, we'll guide you about yoga nidra, its benefits, and how it can help you get a good night's sleep. So, let's get into it.

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga nidra is a meditative practice that enables the individual to relax and reach a state of complete rest consciously. It is a transformative practice that unlocks the power of your subconscious mind. It allows practitioners to enter a state of profound rest while remaining awake and aware. It is a state of conscious deep sleep, a blissful encounter with your truest self.

It is also called “effortless relaxation” or "yogic sleep." During a yoga nidra session, you lie in a comfortable position and follow the guidance of a trained instructor or recorded audio. The practice involves a systematic rotation of awareness through different techniques, like breathing exercises, visualizations, and guided imagery. The instructor encourages you to stay between wakefulness and sleep, cultivating a state of deep relaxation and stillness.

Yoga nidra is designed to bring about deep relaxation, releasing stored tension and freeing the mind from all its worries. Drawing the attention inward can help you connect to your inner wisdom and access greater clarity.

Origin of Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra is an ancient practice that has been around for hundreds of years. The term "Yoga Nidra" is derived from two Sanskrit words: "yoga," which means union or integration, and "nidra," which translates to sleep. Despite the name suggesting sleep, yoga nidra is not a state of sleep but deep relaxation and conscious awareness.

The term was first used in Mahābhārata, written around the 3rd century CE. Later, it was used in Puranas. It was not described as a practice in these texts, rather depicting a goddess’s manifestation as sleep and god’s transcendental sleep.

Birch, Saiva, and Buddhist tantric texts included this term to describe meditation. Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga added this term as a synonym for Samādhi, a state of intense concentration or profound meditation.

The Emergence of Modern Yoga Nidra

The modern form of yoga nidra, as we know it today, was developed by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, a renowned yogi and disciple of Swami Sivananda Saraswati. Swami Satyananda Saraswati founded the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger, India, mid-20th century. He extensively researched and systematized the practice of yoga nidra, making it accessible to a broader audience.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati's approach to yoga nidra emphasized the deep relaxation of the body and mind, leading to a conscious awareness that transcends the ordinary waking state. He outlined a specific methodology for practicing yoga nidra, which involves a systematic rotation of awareness through different parts of the body and visualization techniques. He also modified some ancient practices to make them more accessible and applicable to modern-day living.

The yoga nidra practice gained popularity in the West during the latter half of the 20th century as more people began exploring and embracing various forms of yoga and meditation. Its appeal lies in its ability to induce deep relaxation, reduce stress, and promote well-being. Today, numerous variations and adaptations of Yoga Nidra exist. However, they all share the common goal of inducing a state of deep relaxation, inner awareness, and self-transformation.

How Yoga Nidra Differs from Meditation?

Yoga nidra, and meditation are both powerful practices that promote relaxation and overall well-being. Although they share some similarities, they also have distinctions that set them apart. Here are some prominent differences between yoga nidra and meditation:

Body Posture

During meditation, you adopt a seated posture cross-legged or with your legs straight out in front. You keep your spine straight and your palm facing upward. It allows them to remain still and alert for an extended period.

In contrast, during yoga nidra, practitioners often lie down in a comfortable and supported position. Instructors encourage practitioners to rest in Shavasana (Corpse Pose). It allows the whole body to relax. The emphasis is on releasing physical tension and finding deep relaxation.

Requirement for Guidance

You can practice meditation with or without guidance. Initially, beginners may find it helpful to have a meditation teacher or a guided meditation recording to provide instructions. However, with practice, you can meditate independently, focusing inwardly without external guidance. You can use various techniques, like gazing at a candle, listening to a chant, or focused breathing.

On the other hand, yoga nidra is practiced under the guidance of an instructor. The instructor guides you through various steps of practice, enabling you to explore your inner awareness. In the first step, the instructor encourages you to develop the intention for yoga nidra. Once you develop the intention, the instructor helps you to remain conscious in a deep sleep through various techniques. It takes you in a dream-like state without losing consciousness.

Extend of Consciousness for Practice

Meditation involves active effort. It demands complete focus and concentration. As a result, it requires consistent practice and dedication to focus on a single thought or object. When thoughts or emotions arise, you must bring your focus back to the technique.

In contrast, yoga nidra requires minimal effort. As the instructor guides you through the practice, you just need to relax and remain comfortable. Calming props, like soft pillows, blankets, and eye pillows, are used to make you feel more comfortable. This practice encourages you to surrender into a deep state of relaxation.

Purpose of Practice

The main purpose of meditation is to develop self-awareness. It can improve concentration, cultivate mindfulness, promote emotional balance, and facilitate spiritual growth. Meditation is often practiced to create a calm and clear mind, leading to a greater sense of inner peace and harmony. It is used to attain spiritual enlightenment.

On the other hand, yoga nidra has a different intention. It enables you to achieve deep relaxation. It enables you to relax consciously, although you remain asleep. It helps your body and mind to stay relaxed and balanced while achieving physical and mental health. It can also be used as a tool for self-exploration, healing, and accessing deeper states of consciousness.

How to Practice Yoga Nidra?

Though yoga nidra needs an instructor to guide you throughout the process, it is not a complicated practice. The following steps can help you practice this technique:

Preparation for Yoga Nidra

Begin by finding a comfortable spot where you can lie down. Lie in a relaxed posture in Savasana. Use a soft pillow to support your head and a folded blanket to cover yourself. Use another pillow or bolster to keep your knees bent if you feel uncomfortable in lying down posture.

Dim lights, comfortable cushions or blankets, and soothing music can make the practice more effective. If you are using music, ensure it doesn't have too many vocalizations. Remove distractions like phones or TV and settle into your environment.

Setting Intentions

Close your eyes and take a few deep, conscious breaths to settle into the present moment. Now take a few moments to set an intention. It can be anything that you would like to work on during the practice, including reducing stress, enhancing creativity, promoting healing, or cultivating inner peace. This step helps create a focused direction for your yoga nidra experience.


Now, start with a body scan technique. Take time with this process and focus on each body part, from toes to head. This step aims to remain motionless and keep your body in a relaxed state. If you don't feel comfortable, you can alter your posture. However, it is best to keep your body still. You may become sleepy in healing relaxation due to tempting thoughts that come up but don't fall asleep. Stay firm and keep your intention in mind. With each body part, consciously release any tension or discomfort, inviting a deep sense of relaxation to permeate your being.


Once your body is relaxed, you can move on to the next step of the practice, Sankalpa. It is a Sanskrit word which means resolution or resolve. At this stage, you will plant a seed of positive transformation in your subconscious mind. Formulate a short, positive statement that reflects your deepest desires or aspirations.

Repeat this intention silently in your mind a few times. This step helps create a powerful goal for your practice. It enables you to reshape your subconscious and gradually work towards your life goal. Your Sankalpa should be the same for all your yoga nidra sessions to reinforce its effectiveness. Keep repeating it until you achieve it.

Rotation of Consciousness

Shift your attention to the body part mentioned in the guided instructions. The rotation of consciousness in yoga nidra is a profound technique that guides us to explore the depths of our being. Visualize each part as you focus on it and remain aware of the sensation that arises.

Begin with the right-hand thumb, gradually moving to the second finger, third finger, fourth finger, and fifth finger. Observe the sensations in each finger without any judgment or analysis. Continue the process by bringing awareness to the palm, back of the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, and entire right arm. Feel the subtle sensations and energy in each body part as you journey through them. Avoid falling asleep; instead, focus on the subtle energy in each body part.

Awareness of the Breath

Pay attention to your rhythmic breathing. Observe the inhalation and exhalation without attempting to control or manipulate it. Notice the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves your body, flowing effortlessly. Allow yourself to fully immerse in the present moment, surrendering to your breath's gentle ebb and flow.

Focus on the movement of your navel with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the subtle rise and fall of your stomach as you breathe in and out. Count till 27 without falling asleep. You'll notice that your body and mind become more relaxed with every inhalation and exhalation.

Feelings and Sensations

In this stage, you experience intense feelings and sensations. You may feel heat, cold, pain, heaviness, pleasure, or other sensations in the body. Observe the feelings without engaging with them in any way. Allow the feelings to be there without identifying with them. Let the feelings come and go, just like clouds in the sky. Remind yourself that these sensations are transitory and will eventually pass. You feel lighter and more relaxed as the sensations dissipate.


In this stage, you focus on visualization and mental imagery. You imagine various objects in your mind as your instructor names them. The instructor can mention anything from a beautiful beach to a waterfall. Feel the energy and essence of these objects as you visualize them in your mind's eye. Notice how the visualization leaves you feeling calm and peaceful.

Visualization eliminates stress and worries as you focus completely on the objects and imagery. With every visualization, you drift deeper into a state of relaxation beyond words.


After visualization, you have to practice Sankalpa again. It is a powerful intention that you set for yourself. Repeat it three times in your mind as the instructor says it. Feel powerful and positive vibes as you focus on this intention.


In this state, you focus on connecting with external energy. You may visualize a bright white light or an object of your choice. As the yoga nidra practice nears completion, gently transition back to the present moment. Slowly become aware of your breath, the physical sensations in your body, and the environment around you. Begin to wiggle your fingers and toes, gradually bringing small movements to your body.

Benefits of Yoga Nidra

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, yoga nidra is a perfect practice to restore your health. The following are some of the benefits of yoga nidra:

Deep Relaxation and Stress Relief

Yoga nidra enables you to experience profound relaxation, surpassing the effects of a typical power nap. Through guided meditation and conscious relaxation techniques, it helps release physical and mental tension, reducing stress and anxiety. The practice triggers the relaxation response, resulting in a calmer mind and a rejuvenated body.

Improving Sleep

Today many people are struggling to get a good night's rest. Chronic insomnia affects mental and physical health, resulting in fatigue and poor concentration. Yoga nidra can help you naturally restore your sleep patterns. It encourages the body and mind to relax, making it easier to drift into a restful sleep. Regular practice of yoga nidra before bedtime can create a peaceful transition into sleep, allowing you to awaken feeling refreshed and energized.

Strengthen Intuition and Clarity of Mind

Yoga nidra enables you to look within and tap into the wisdom of your subconscious. The practice helps to strengthen the connection between your conscious and unconscious mind, allowing you to gain clarity on important decisions. It also encourages mindful listening, helping you to tune into your intuition and make wise choices.

Improved Memory and Learning

Studies have shown that yoga nidra can enhance memory and learning capabilities. The practice promotes deep relaxation, allowing the brain to access the alpha and theta brainwave states associated with improved cognitive function. Regular practice of yoga nidra can sharpen your focus, enhance concentration, and boost overall mental performance.

Emotional Healing and Self-Discovery

Yoga nidra provides a nurturing space for emotional healing and self-exploration. Accessing deeper layers of consciousness allows you to uncover and process unresolved emotions and experiences. With regular practice, you can experience profound shifts in emotional well-being, increased self-compassion, and a deeper connection to your authentic self.

Improved Confidence

Yoga nidra helps to build mental strength and resilience, allowing you to break free from limiting beliefs and self-doubt. Cultivating focus and awareness of the present moment enables you to make more conscious decisions and become more confident in yourself. The practice encourages a sense of security and trust in your abilities, helping you to step into your power and reach your highest potential.


Is yoga nidra good for sleep?

Yes, yoga nidra is an excellent practice for sleep. By helping you to reduce stress and anxiety, it can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Moreover, its deep relaxation techniques can help you to access deeper states of restful sleep, allowing you to wake up feeling more refreshed and energized.

Should you do yoga nidra before bed?

Yes, yoga nidra is best practiced before bed as it helps to transition from your active day into a more relaxed state. Make sure to relax your body and mind fully before you drift off to sleep.

How much yoga nidra equals 4 hours of sleep?

It is difficult to give an exact answer as everyone's needs differ. Generally, 4 hours of sleep is equivalent to 30 minutes of deep, restful sleep. However, you may find that you need more or less depending on your individual circumstances.

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