To restore & reclaim vital energy,
cultivate nourishing healing rest
align to your inner voice of
self-trust, wisdom, and compassion.
What is yoga nidra?
The practice of Yoga Nidra is a guided form of deep relaxation, often applied as the rotation of consciousness and lying meditation resting in a presence of awareness. Yoga nidra can provide a supportive path through the healing process and be restorative on a profound level.
"We humans have lost the ability to relax."
Yoga Nidra is so important and effective for our lives today. Culturally we are moving towards higher levels of diffusion and division - we are speeding up in life to accomplish more, and at the same time being split up into smaller parts. This leads us to fear, anxiety, restlessness and the inability to relax." - Stryker
It is an effective tool for overcoming post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, depression, fatigue and insomnia. Beginners and experienced practitioners both benefit from the practice. Anyone can do the practice and it is completely non-invasive and safe.
Many studies have and are being done and solid scientific as well as experiential research has determined that the practice of yoga nidra is effective for PTSD, anxiety, and stress. The practice of yoga nidra is being used in prison programmes, with ex-army, police and combat teams, and abuse victims.
As well as for anyone who just needs some restorative rest or who is dealing with feelings of overwhelm or having difficulty relaxing or sleeping. Personally, I have found the practice invaluable especially for chronic pain, stress, and dealing with chronic illness.
Yoga nidra does not cure disease or illness but supports the healing process and definitely brings about a sense of more ease and wellbeing and increased mental clarity. It is a deeply therapeutic practice, leaving one's whole being feeling lighter, brighter, and more well-rested. It also helps to calm and soothe the mind and the nervous system. It is a very experiential and embodied approach and can in its simplest form act as a relaxation but with a regular sustained application, it can become a really profound, deeply nourishing experience. Especially when it is practiced alongside your normal daily meditation practices to enhance more clarity and awareness it acts to rest and restore the physical body in a way we don't usually allow ourselves to.
Traditionally yoga nidra is practiced in Savasana (lying down or 'corpse pose') and supported variations of Savasana (as illustrated).
It is rooted in ancient Indian yogic traditions and has been practiced in many forms, the modern application on the most basic level usually being a simple body scan.
Free recorded practices guided by Leigh Taylor
Effectiveness of Yoga Nidra
Several studies on yoga nidra have been conducted and have shown positive results. The Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, as cited in the Huffington Post, found that “Yoga Nidra improved blood pressure, health and wellness, heart rate variables, and hormone irregularities in women.”
Another study, which involved Vietnam and Iraq veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), found that regular practice of yoga nidra helped them reduce “rage, anxiety, and emotional reactivity.” Other studies have reported a “decrease in negative thoughts, self-blame, and depression.”
In a research study done by Renee Harrington of NC State University on how yoga nidra reduces stress, she listed benefits to the heart, brain, and overall wellness. It is said that yoga nidra can increase dopamine production to 65%. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain responsible for giving “pleasure”. It provides feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate us to do, or continue doing certain activities. Aside from increased dopamine production, yoga nidra also increases stimulation of the brain.
Benefits of practicing yoga nidra regularly
Aside from feeling more inner peace and calm and reducing anxiety, fear, anger, and depression, yoga nidra has a lot of benefits on the overall wellness of a person. Here are more benefits of yoga nidra which were enumerated in Harrington’s research:
Decreases inflammation/reduces pain
Deep relaxation of body and mind
Reduced emotional reaction
Support to overcome insomnia and overall improved quality of sleep
Reduced anxiety, fear, anger and depression instilling more calm, ease and clarity
Boosts the immune system
Decreases inflammation/reduces pain
Symptom relief related to cancer, asthma, diabetes, addictions, heart disease, and migraine headaches, when used in conjunction with conventional medical care
Helps with pre- and post-surgical conditions
Can be used to control physical body functions such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism, body temperature, and brain waves.
Increased awareness and clarity with regular practice
relax. restore. Rest.
FOUNDER OF PRECIOUS ONLINE MAGAZINE FOR WOMEN OF COLOUR / UNITED KINGDOM MBE RECIPIENT
I have been practising yoga on and off for years, so I was familiar with the concepts and flow. But I had never experienced yoga nidra until I attended a (virtual) retreat with Leigh. Working through Zoom calls (which she initially had some hesitations about... but worked really well!), Leigh guided a group of women through yoga nidra sessions over a period of two months. I'll never forget that first session - wrapped in my cocoon of blankets, I felt that I had floated away! I slept very well that night. I later had the privilege to go on retreat with Leigh and her evening yoga nidra sessions were a peaceful delight.
Unfortunately I caught the coronavirus this spring and was in physical and emotional distress for many weeks. My symptoms rapidly progressed to moderate/severe and to ensure hospitals had capacity for the most vulnerable, clinicians encouraged me to stay at home as I'm young and otherwise fit. As my symptoms progressed, I coughed constantly, was breathless, wheezing, confused and often in a lot of distress. My coughing
fits could last up for 8 hours at a time. I couldn't speak a complete sentence for being so breathless. Sometimes tears would run down my cheeks for
hours (without having the sensation of crying) as I held so much pain and fear. One of the most comforting things was a yoga nidra recording Leigh sent me. One night, at the peak of my illness, my husband rang for help, but unfortunately the health systems were over capacity in our area. Listening to Leigh's yoga nidra recording - while on my hands and knees gasping for air, with my entire body shaking - was the only thing that helped my brain realise that I was OK as I tried to pay attention to my breath. When I later shared this experience with Leigh, her words will always stay with me: "we teach breathing into the body - you had the extra challenge of breathing into your breath!". I regularly used Leigh's recordings during my four week illness and my eight week recovery - and still do to this day.
I cannot recommend highly enough, for people - and especially women - to practice with Leigh, if they have the opportunity. Her grace, calm presence and generous compassion nourishes us on many levels. I cannot wait to see what she shares next with the world.
SAMANTHA MEIKLE - LONDON, 2020
ANNA ZAZIAS REAL ESTATE ENTREPRENEUR
LONG TERM CROHNS DISEASE Patient
Since a child, I didn't really need much rest at all, so it is kind of ironic that my main focus these days for women's wellbeing is all about lying down and
resting in a relaxed state!
The first time I experienced the practice of yoga nidra I was about 10 years old in South Africa, where I was born. I remember the yoga teacher telling us to lie down after doing the stretches and close our eyes. Then she took us on soothing audio and mental visual journey and I remember feeling light as a feather and a sense of relief washing over me. Even at a tender age, it left a profound impression on my mind.
I first truly appreciated the profound beneficial effects of the practice of yoga nidra known as 'sacred sleep' or 'yogic sleep' when I became very ill and was diagnosed with a chronic immune illness in 2010. For years my energy had become quite depleted and it robbed me of a lot of my vital life force and my quality of life deteriorated.
I needed to spend the bulk of a year bedridden which often made me feel very powerless and I was getting frustrated with the continuous debilitating pain and exhaustion.
The regular practice of Yoga Nidra has helped me to calm the central nervous system, restore vital energy and also deeply relax on a cellular level leaving every part of the body and mind in a more harmonious and lucid state. I am my own best advocate after struggling to find a method that did not put extra pressure on my body to be in an upright position with invasive endometriosis, IBS and lower back pain. From my personal experience I know that this helps and works and thus I feel passionate and compelled to share it.
I wish I had started this practice sooner!
I feel and believe that this soothing practice is very beneficial for people and especially for busy women who experience stress, anxiety, chronic pain or feelings of overwhelm by all of life's demands, pressures, and time constraints. Most of us have many responsibilities and life, change and transition can be challenging for us all.
As a long-term meditator and student of Buddhist philosophy, I personally love that this practice has deep roots in the ancient yogic traditions from India.
Yet is timeless in the sense that it can be applied in the modern, fast-paced
world and still have the same profound benefits of powerful rest, deep
relaxation and clarifying awareness.
I'm looking forward to sharing this practice with you and going on a relaxing journey of loving awareness.