With the constant distraction and stress we all experience, most people look for alternatives to relax and reconnect with themselves. Among these alternatives, there are meditation and yoga Nidra. But, you might ask yoga Nidra vs meditation: what are the differences, and which one should you choose?
Both meditation and yoga Nidra offer loads of benefits. On the one hand, meditation focuses on softening the mind, which then softens the body. On the other hand, yoga Nidra softens the body first, allowing the mind to unwind.
In addition, practicing yoga Nidra requires a little mental discipline. When practicing meditation, you tend to breathe into an area of your body and use the breath to relax it. In Yoga Nidra, you bring your attention to one part of your body and then move to the next, and your mind has no opportunity to wander.
Also, you practice yoga Nidra by lying down to help your body enter this sleep state. In contrast, you practice meditation by sitting up to remain more alert, awake, and present.
Additionally, yoga Nidra is easier to do because there is no way of doing it wrong; the passivity of the practice enables you to get to a state of complete calm, entirely effortlessly.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about yoga Nidra and meditation, their benefits, and choosing which is suitable for you.
See also: How Long Does Meditation Really Take To Work (This Long!)
Table of Contents
What is Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra (AKA yogic sleep) is a powerful method for managing your body’s relaxation response. And, broadly translated, “Nidra” means sleep in Sanskrit, meaning you perform Nidra, you enter a state of sleep with awareness.
In addition, yoga Nidra helps cultivate conscious relaxation, and while practicing yoga Nidra, you will feel your body melt away into a calming state of being. In other words, yoga Nidra’s practice aims to bring the mind into a delta wave state of consciousness, inviting deep rest into the physical body and activating cellular repair while creating space to rework limiting belief patterns.
You may have experienced this feeling when you are about to fall asleep. Your brain is simply freestyling and attaching random ideas. Some might call it dozing, where you are actually in between being awake and being in sleep.
Yoga Nidra means conscious sleep, whereas meditation is uninterrupted prolonged concentration. When Dhārnā (concentration) becomes uninterrupted for a long time, it is called dhyān (Meditation). Yoga Nidra is the threshold state between wakefulness and sleep, spontaneously connecting the subconscious and unconscious dimensions.
When all these muscles relaxed, your mind also relaxes. The output of relaxing the mind is sleep. At the same time, you rest comfortably in the corpse pose (savasana). To practice, Yoga Nidra lies down under a blanket with your eyes closed.
See also: Top Fitness Trackers For Yoga Practice And a Healthier Life
Benefits of Yoga Nidra
The benefits of Yoga Nidra are endless. With Yoga Nidra, you will experience growth, healing, and gain fundamental value.
1- Yoga Nidra Reduces Anxiety Stress
Yoga Nidra has been proven effective in alleviating stress and anxiety.
Yoga Nidra was more effective than meditation at reducing anxiety’s cognitive and physiological symptoms, according to a study issued in the International Journal of Yoga.
Another study examined Heart Rate Variability, a sign of autonomic nervous system balance, and discovered that yoga Nidra (alone or preceded by an asana practice) improved Heart Rate Variability.
Practicing yoga Nidra changed the balance of the autonomic nervous system toward the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system governs our relaxation response, often referred to as the “rest and digest” response.
2- Yoga Nidra May Heal Trauma
In 2006, the Department of Defense investigated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on the efficacy and effectiveness of yoga Nidra on soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The research led to incorporating yoga Nidra into weekly treatment programs for soldiers in several VA facilities across the country.
3- Nidra Enhances Sleep and Reduces Insomnia
The general recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation are 7-9 hours of sleep for adults and young. And the good news is that yoga Nidra trains the body and mind to relax and move more quickly into the deeper sleep states.
Sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing. And, poor sleep and insomnia may lead to more than just annoyance and bags under your eyes.
Yoga Nidra is an excellent way to improve your sleep. You can try practicing yoga Nidra during your lunch break or before bed to prepare yourself for a restful night of sleep.
What is Meditation
Meditation is a method of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. In addition, you can practice meditation to reduce stress, develop concentration, and increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings.
Meditation is about training yourself to be aware. For example, you learn how to pay attention to your breath as it goes in and out. You are not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings but learning to observe your thoughts or feelings without judgment. And ultimately, you may start to understand them better as well.
Traditional meditation practices generally are engaged sitting to increase insight and develop a skill of directing our awareness and attention. In addition, meditation helps you be fully present with your body and mind and learn not to get caught up in your thoughts. Some meditation, such as tratak, uses a mantra (repetition of a word, sound, or phrase), and others use a focal point of the breath to help support this process.
The most significant difference is that Nidra typically begins with a Sankalpa, or intention-setting statement, repeated three times. Another difference is that Nidra progressively focuses the attention on different layers of awareness. Starting with your body, breath, emotions, mind, increasing your awareness. Yoga Nidra is a powerful tool that will help you relax and feel good.
See also: Here’s How To Practice Tratak (The proper way!)
Benefits of Meditation
Practicing meditation has tremendous benefits.
1- Meditation May Promote emotional health
Practicing meditation can help you improve your self-image and have a more positive outlook on life.
Mindfulness meditation improved symptoms of depression found a review of treatments given to more than 3,500 adults.
Another study discovered that people who performed a meditation exercise experienced fewer negative thoughts viewing negative images than a control group.
2- Meditation Can be Make kinder to yourself and others
Some varieties of meditation may mainly increase positive feelings and actions toward yourself and others.
Metta, a type of meditation known as loving-kindness meditation, promotes kind thoughts and feelings toward yourself.
A study of 50 college students revealed that practicing metta meditation three times per week improved positive emotions, interpersonal interactions, and understanding of others after four weeks.
These advantages also seem to accumulate over time with the practice of loving-kindness meditation.
3- Meditation may help fight addictions
The mental discipline you can develop with meditation may help you break dependencies by developing your self-control and building awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors.
For example, meditation can help fight alcohol addictions. A study of 60 people undergoing treatment for alcohol use disorder observed that practicing transcendental meditation was linked with lower levels of alcohol cravings, stress, psychological distress, and alcohol use after three months.
4- Meditation can be an effective weight-loss tool
Because meditation can help you develop self-discipline and can also help you control food cravings.
A review of 14 studies observed mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce emotional and binge eating.
Yoga Nidra vs Meditation: What is the difference?
Both yoga Nidra and meditation involve relaxing and experiencing bliss. However, they are two different practices.
Yoga Nidra is a process that helps you to achieve the state of pratyahara, which means withdrawal of senses. And, meditation is immediately happening after pratyahara.
Yoga Nidra is similar to meditation, but yet it’s not. There are a few overlaps, and critical differences exist. With yoga Nidra, you lie down, and your goal is to move into a deep state of conscious awareness. This state involves going from consciousness while awake to dreaming and then to not-dreaming while remaining awake.
However, with meditation, you sit in a waking state of consciousness while focusing your mind and allowing your thoughts to come and go.
Meditation allows you to reach the theta state, the state we go through to get to the delta state, a deep healing state, and the most profound sleep cycle, a state you are trying to get through yoga Nidra where the body and mind rest and the consciousness is awake.
Unlike other exercise-based yogas, yoga Nidra’s health benefits are more closely similar to meditation practices.
Yoga Nidra vs Meditation: Which One Should Choose?
Yoga Nidra works with your autonomic nervous system, while meditation helps you calm your sympathetic nervous system; essentially, your fight-or-flight response.
Our autonomic nervous system regulates processes of the body without a conscious effort, including heartbeat, breathing, digestion, blood flow, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Meditation practice mainly calms the sympathetic or fight-or-flight and activates the parasympathetic more.
While meditation and yoga Nidra effectively reduced anxiety and stress, yoga Nidra seemed to be more effective in reducing anxiety, according to a recent study. The same study also recommended that yoga Nidra can be a helpful tool in reducing anxiety’s cognitive and physiological symptoms.
Over time, yoga Nidra and meditation will optimize your brain function, bringing you to a healthier and happier “normal” state leading to a higher quality of life. So Yoga Nidra is about a particular meditative process shutting down the thinking mind and bring on that state of no-mind nothingness of pure consciousness bliss while you are still awake.
These are the fundamental differences between yoga Nidra and meditation. You can practice both yoga Nidra and meditation to gain the maximum benefits or choose one of them to start with.
Both yoga Nidra and meditation will bring significant changes to your life and make a great change in your outlook and well-being.