How to use yoga nidra as a guided sleep meditation to deal with insomnia and clear the mind before you fall asleep.
Dealing with insomnia? Frustrated by lack of sleep? Sometimes yoga nidra, a form of guided sleep meditation, can clear the mind before bed to help you fall asleep.
Yoga nidra (yogic sleep) is an ancient meditation technique that can be practiced by anyone, anywhere. Yoga nidra can create a receptive mind while releasing stress and tension. As a result, the technique also is a very effective method of dealing with insomnia.
Help for insomnia
If insomnia or poor sleep is affecting your life, speak with your primary care provider. Sleep disorders are very treatable — sometimes by simply making lifestyle changes.
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How to Do Yoga Nidra at Home
- Check your comfort. Lie down in a comfortable position. Relax the jaw and facial muscles. Is the room temperature conducive for sleeping? Are there folds of clothing or bedding under you that will cause discomfort? Is your hair pulled tightly under your head? Be picky.
- Start with breath awareness. Meditation experts agree that breath awareness is the easiest and quickest way to quiet the mind. Take three deep breaths in — three long breaths to relax the nervous system. Then, allow your breath to seek out its own rhythm. Follow the natural breath from nose to navel and back a few times. Notice the belly and lungs as they rise and fall.
- Mentally check every body part. Start with your right thumb. Mentally visualize and repeat, “Right-hand thumb, second finger, third finger,” etc. Continue to recite body parts mentally as the awareness moves up the arm to the shoulder. Move to the left side and do the same. Take the consciousness to the back of the head and scan down the back of your body. Then, move up the front of your body. Hopefully, sleep will come before making it all the way through. If not, do it again. When the mind wanders, come back to breath awareness and start the body scan again.
There is no wrong way to do this, and it does not have to be done in this order. Yoga nidra is a healthy manner of keeping the mind busy so it doesn’t have time to worry about other things.
You may find this guided sleep meditation useful when you first get in bed or to get back to sleep in the middle of the night.
Tami Sue Combs is a yoga and meditation instructor for Norton Cancer Institute.