Reboot Your Nervous System With Yoga Nidra

Reboot Your Nervous System With Yoga Nidra


When your nervous system needs a reset, try yoga nidra. Learn more about the power and benefits of this practice.

Earlier this year, I was in Toronto, Canada. It was a busy week packed with meetings, time with a childhood friend, six miles of daily walking, and the submission of my upcoming book The Loss That Binds Us. I got back home to New York City and was in school all weekend. The weather in Toronto had been perfect: sunny skies, crisp air, and a temperate breeze. When I returned to New York City, it was cold, rainy, and windy.

I typically don’t rush from one activity (or destination) to another. But sometimes, work-life integration remains a myth, and I need to roll with the punches. Because of my caregiving duties in India over the past year and a half, I had scaled back on work and said mostly no to prospective clients. I have no regrets! But ever since my father’s passing back in May 2023, I whisper words of gratitude when an opportunity comes my way and treat it as a blessing from my father. You won’t hear me complain about too much work. But that doesn’t mean the overwhelm doesn’t happen.

After returning home from Toronto, I took my pulse several times a day. In Ayurveda, pulse diagnosis, or nadi pariksha, is considered a reliable diagnostic tool. My pulse was fast and erratic (all Vata qualities)—screeching Vata dosha vitiation. Movement and travel increase Vata. Erratic sleep, busy schedule, and unstructured meals also contribute to Vata imbalance. Stress can also aggravate Vata dosha. Vata thrives on irregularity. Then loss creates anxiety and nervousness—furthering unbalancing Vata. Cold weather and rain also provoke Vata.

Here’s what I did to lower my Vata dosha:

  • Abhyanga (self-massage) with warm sesame oil

  • Warm, home-cooked, fresh, spiced (not spicy), grounding meals

  • Maintaining daily routines

  • Restorative massage at a spa

  • Nadi shodhana pranayama

  • Gentle walks

  • Talking very little

  • Keeping myself warm and wearing layers

  • And, most importantly, yoga nidra

What Is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga nidra, which translates from Sanskrit as “yogic sleep,” is a form of guided meditation that leads to pratyahara (withdrawal of senses). As the mind settles in a place between wakefulness and sleep, you scan the body, leading you on a journey of expanded consciousness.

How Does Yoga Nidra Work?

During yoga nidra, you will rest comfortably in Savasana (Corpse Pose) and choose a sankalpa, or personal resolution. And then all you have to do is follow the voice of the teacher that is guiding you. The teacher will instruct the students to shift their awareness to different parts of the body. You remain motionless while relaxing each part.

The guided meditation takes you through the five koshas, or layers of Self. Rather than focusing on the development of just one kosha, the practice of yoga nidra provides you with a direct experience with all layers of Self. The deep relaxation makes the brain calmer and receptive, allowing us to release our limiting beliefs, or samskaras. Through yoga nidra, we can make powerful changes in our lives.

The Benefits of Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra is one of the most beneficial practices for self-healing: It nourishes the nervous system and helps release muscular, emotional, and physical tension. It offers you clarity and focus. It lowers anxiety. It improves sleep and reduces insomnia. We know that insomnia and sleep deprivation add stress, contribute to mental disorders, and suppress the immune system: Yogic sleep gives the body time to rest, recover, and restore, which thereby brings down inflammation and improves the function of the immune system.

Studies have shown that yoga nidra meditation can potentially support healthy blood sugar levels and hormone levels, and that yoga nidra can help shift us from the autonomic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Yoga found that yoga nidra was more effective at reducing anxiety than seated meditation.

Who Can Practice Yoga Nidra?

Absolutely anyone can practice yoga nidra, but Ayurveda highly recommends it for those battling elevated Vata dosha in their mind and body. This practice quiets the mind, helps improve creativity, and relaxes the body. It’s suitable for all age groups—from children to the elderly. I have recommended it to my clients before surgical procedures (to calm their mind and nervous system) or even before they got their vaccines (if they had high anxiety). While many say that the best time to practice yoga nidra is at the end of the day, I disagree. You can practice it anytime—in the mornings for deep focus, and in the evenings to rest your mind and body. There are no negative side effects to yoga nidra.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are nursing, taking medications, or have a medical condition, please consult with your healthcare practitioner prior to the use of any of these herbs. If you are looking for advice from a trained yogi and Ayurvedic practitioner, contact Sweta here.

Reboot Your Nervous System With Yoga Nidra

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