Yoga Nidra And Meditation: Know The Difference Between The Two

Yoga Nidra is a systematic method that involves complete physical, emotional, and mental relaxation. In it, we learn to surf between wakefulness and sleep.

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : November 26, 2023 6:01 PM IST

The techniques in yoga are gentle and restorative to begin the day, harness strength and stability to maintain it throughout, and help effectively wind up to deep and sound rest during sleep. Yoga practices such as breathing awareness, physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation help us achieve an equanimous state of mind to accept all circumstances with serenity. Yoga helps us to drift off to sleep. But, the human mind's tendency to get caught up in thoughts is high, especially when you try to sleep at the end of the day. All the external interactions, ideas exchanged, and emotional events that impact our mind interrupt our flow of thoughts, affecting our sleep.

Mindfulness Meditation

We progressively let go of the day's experiences when meditating or practising mindful yoga. This process of separating the practitioner from the actual experiences helps to create internal harmony. Evidence suggests that regular yoga practice improves sleep efficiency and total sleep time and reduces the time it takes to fall asleep. In addition, a well-curated yoga routine involving calming and restorative poses helps calm the nervous system and wind down for the day.

What Is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra, also called yogic sleep or psychic sleep, means to sleep consciously. This yoga technique induces true relaxation by removing psychological disturbances and enhancing an individual's sleep quality. The mind is a swirling vortex of fantasies, confusions, and oscillations. The mental body accumulates the experiences registered by our consciousness throughout our lives. These experiences explode continuously, affecting our bodies, minds, behaviour, and reactions.

Four sleep stages maintain the brain’s cognitive and neurological functions:

NREM Stage 1- Non-random eye movement

This transitional period between sleep and wakefulness lasts about 5 to 10 minutes. After that, the brain is engaged and produces high-amplitude theta waves.

NREM Stage 2- Non-random eye movement

This phase stays for approximately 20 minutes per cycle. After that, body awareness reduces, temperature drops, and breathing and heart rate become more regular.

NREM Stage 3- Non-random eye movement

Delta waves and a lack of response to environmental noise or disturbances characterise deep sleep. As a result, muscles relax, blood pressure decreases, and temperature drops. All of the body's physical repair functions take place during this stage.

REM Stage 4- Random eye movement

During this stage, the brain's activity resembles waking hours, but the body is temporarily paralyzed to prevent movement during dreams. It begins approximately 90 minutes after sleep onset. Eyes rush, the body is immobilized, breathing becomes faster and erratic, and dreaming begins. Emotions and memories are processed and stored during this stage.

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