A Step by Step Guide to Yoga Nidra for Relaxation

May 3, 2020

Yoga Nidra is a process that gives total rest to our mind, body, nervous system, and to all of our senses. Except through meditation and Yoga Nidra, it is very hard or impossible to give rest to the entire mind. Also, there is no drug and no scientific or physical technique so far discovered that gives rest to the unconscious part of the mind, except the technique of Yoga Nidra. Let’s see the step by step guide of Yoga Nidra for relaxation. I have been practicing Yoga Nidra for the last 3 years and it has really helped in improving the quality of my sleep and thoughts.

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga nidra cannot be translated into any other language, but for the sake of understanding to a layman it can be called “yogic sleep” or “sleepless sleep.” This is a state of conscious sleep in which you will be  in deep sleep and yet remain fully aware of yourself. The yogis use yoga nidra technique to master their sleep and meditation. 

The energy you receive through the method of yoga Nidra is entirely different from that which is derived through ordinary sleep. The most important point is, if we practice yoga Nidra with the correct diet and fasting method that we read in our last blog, the result will be exponential. 

History of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra defined by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, who defined and codified the practice of Yoga Nidra for modern seekers in the 1950’s,  is a state of mind where our Consciousness is disassociated from External Awareness and from Sleep. Contact with our Subconscious and Unconscious dimensions occur spontaneously. 

The Concept of Yoga Nidra is as old as the Yoga itself. But back in the 1950s, it was Satyananda Saraswati who dug deep into the concept of Yoga Nidra and brought it to the mainstream. 

History of Yoga Nidra

There is a story how Swamy Satyananda got to know about Yoga Nidra. When Swami Satyananda was living with his guru in Rishikesh,he was asked to go to a school which was nearby and help the guards during the night hours. 

In that school, childrens were taught Vedic chanting every morning at 4 AM. Swami used to stay awake till 3 AM and then take rest till 6 AM. A few months later, the children were invited to ashram to recite Mantras. As the students of the school started to chant mantras, Swami started to feel that he knew all of these mantras but he also knew that he never practiced them before.

He went and asked his Guruji about this unique experience. What his master told him changed Swami Satyananda Saraswati forever and also gave this wonderful tool called Yoga Nidra to the world. The teacher told him that he was able to remember the mantras the because the children used to chant it while he remained asleep. 

Swami Ji then started experimenting in Yoga Nidra and he found astonishing results where he was able to learn languages and mantras when he was asleep. He started playing audiotapes at night while he was deep sleep and by subsequently listening to it again when awake. By doing this he was able to establish a bridge between conscious and subconscious minds. He also found that he was able to learn new languages in 2 weeks which otherwise takes 3 – 4 months.

What are the benefits of Yoga Nidra?

  1. Increases awareness.
  2. Restores normal temperature.
  3. Activates the nervous system.
  4. De-stresses the entire system
  5. Relaxes the deepest level of mind.
  6. Breaks old thinking patterns.
  7. It makes us more receptive.
  8. Improves your quality of sleep.

When should you do Yoga Nidra?

Yogi’s and scripture say that the finest time to practice yoga nidra is early in the morning before the sun rises, or in the evening around sunset.

But since we are stuck in a so-called sophisticated world where it seems to be everything in our control but when we just sit and analyze we realize that nothing is in our control. 🙂 So you can practice at either of the below times i.e ,

1. After your asanas 

All our yoga poses or asanas warm up the body, Yoga Nidra cools it down. This closing Yoga Nidra involves consciously taking your attention to different parts of the body and relaxing them.

2. Before going to bed

Yoga nidra can really change the way you experience sleep, many of them sleep for 8 – 10 hours and they are still tired. But a yogi who practices yoga and yoga nidra may need just 4 – 6 hours of quality sleep.

The Process of Yoga Nidra

If you are a beginner and have just started practicing yoga nidra, then you should use ten minutes for this exercise else there is a greater chance that your mind will slip to the state of sleeping. It’s very important to be awake during the entire process of Yoga Nidra. 

So as a beginner first starts with 5 – 7 mins of Yoga Nidra which is a shorter version where we will just try to relax our body. Once you continue practice then slowly increase to the full-length practice.

Stages of Yoga Nidra

The practice of yoga nidra is divided into the following stages:

Stages of yoga nidra
  1. Preparation 

The practice of Yoga Nidra is practiced with closed eyes in savasana or corpse pose. In this stage, we relax both body and mind.

  1. Sankalpa

Sankalpa is a commitment or resolution we do before we start the practice. The resolution we make during the practice of Yoga Nidra is a seed we sow in the subconscious mind. The resolution must be clear and positive. An example of Sankalpa can be – “Yoga Nidra will improve my awareness” or  “With Yoga Nidra, I will improve my quality of sleep”.

  1. Rotation of consciousness: 

In the 3rd stage, the awareness is rotated around the different body parts in an organized manner. You will be instructed to remain awake and listen to the instructions and to move the mind according to the instructions without any physical movements. 

  1. Breath awareness

In this stage, you will become aware of the natural flow of  breath without making an attempt to change the flow of the breath. You have to become aware of the breath by watching how the air passes through the nostrils, chest, and abdomen.. And also you have to become aware of each incoming and outgoing breath by counting them mentally.

  1. Opposite feelings and sensations

In this stage, the physical or emotional sensations are recalled, intensified and experienced fully. Usually this is practised with pairs of opposite feelings or sensations like heat and cold, heaviness and lightness, pain and pleasure, love and hate, and so on.

  1. Visualization

In the stage of visualization, you will be instructed to visualize some objects, stories or situations. This process of visualization especially after deep relaxation of the body will activate the right side of the brain.

  1. Sankalpa

Once again , the sankalpa taken in stage two, is repeated mentally three times in this stage with full dedication, faith and optimism.

  1. Ending the practice: 

Before ending the session of Yoga Nidra, slowly the awareness is externalized by asking the practitioner to become aware of the external sounds, objects, and persons. They are asked then to slowly move the body parts and to stretch the body.

Free Yoga Nidra Guided Relaxation

Is Yoga Nidra safe?

Many of my students always ask this question whether they can practice Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra can be practiced by anyone. There are no restrictions until you are awake and able to follow the instruction throughout the practice. As it’s done while lying comfortably, physical limitations or disabilities aren’t barriers. The guidance can also be played with a recording or app so that it can be done at one’s convenience.

Even the U.S. Army Surgeon General has listed the process of Yoga Nidra as their Tier 1 approach for helping soldiers.

Yoga Nidra for insomnia

According to the statistics, around 30% of the world population is suffering from insomnia, millions of people are consuming sleeping tablets every night. Because of these sleep issues their whole life is full of stress and anxiety. If you find what’s the reason for insomnia it points to stress and anxiety. So it’s like a deadlock.

Yoga nidra has been a boon to the people who are suffering from sleeping disorders. The main reason why people do not get sleep during night is because their mind and body are not relaxed. 

In Yoga Nidra, the corpus posture helps us to relax physically and the instructions given throughout the process will relax our mind to the highest level. Once the body and mind are relaxed then we tend to slip to the sleeping state easily without any outside medication.

Yoga Nidra for Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the time when ladies have to go through a lot of physical and mental turbulences , because of which their emotional status will be always disturbed. In this situation, if the pregnant lady incorporates Yoga Nidra in their routine then wonders will happen with both the mother and the child.

yoga nidra for pregnancy

The practice of Yoga Nidra will calm their emotional disturbance and also gives deep relaxation to the physical body. Once a mother starts practicing, it will have a direct benefit to the child inside. The child will be calmer than other conditions. There is a higher chance of normal delivery.


If you are a person who handles lots of pressure during your day to day life or if you are finding problems with sleeping or if you are a pregnant lady then you should practice yoga nidra. It will definitely help you with various parts of your life especially establishing peace within yourself. Download the free audio file and practice.

Prashanth Savanur
Let’s make this world a bit more positive through Yoga.

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Prashanth Savanur
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3 Discussion to this post

  1. Sangeetha says:

    Yoga article is quite helpful. Thank You for sharing your knowledge.

  2. Surya says:

    Wonderful Guruji… got positive vibes while and after going through article…
    Expecting some more…
    Thank u so much…

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