What is Yoga Nidra in Meditation

Yoga & meditation




What is Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is probably the best known and most effective method of guided meditation in the context of yoga.

It is thanks to Swami Satyananda Saraswati, the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga in Munger, India, that deep relaxation is available to us today, the effects of which go far beyond the usual idea of ​​relaxation. He called the method or exercise taken from ancient tantric science: Yoga Nidra.


Motivated by his own experience, he studied the Tantric scriptures. From the complicated and time-consuming practices, he developed a new system that is adapted to today's needs and can be used by anyone regardless of age, religion or culture.

Yoga Nidra is a technique in which first the body and then the mind are guided into relaxation with thoughts and feelings.

Many people believe that they can relax by sitting in a comfortable armchair with a cup of tea or coffee, a drink or a cigarette, and reading the newspaper or watching TV. However, that's just a sensual distraction. Modern sleep researchers have shown that this refuge only adds to stress. The experience of true relaxation goes far beyond that.

Yoga Nidra is a systematic method for creating physical, mental and emotional relaxation. While the body is completely at rest, the mind remains clear and alert, allowing the practitioner to relax deeply. Even if it appears as if one is asleep during the practice, the mind continues to function on a deeper level.



The brain and its waves


Already in the second sutra, the sage Pantanjali gives information on the question of what yoga is:

Yoga chitta vritti nirodah

"Freeing the ocean of consciousness from waves is yoga"

Our brain produces electrical waves that arise due to cell communication and the associated activity.

In 1924, the doctor and researcher Hans Berger was the first to discover the alpha waves, which indicate our relaxed alertness with closed eyes. It was not until 10 years later that delta, theta and finally beta waves were discovered.

Changes in the brain frequency can be determined using the EEG encephalogram.

The beta waves indicate heightened alertness, combined with outward awareness. At a low frequency, they also show the processing of logical data and motor activity, but also restlessness, fear or stress. At 13-40 Hz they are the exact opposite of the delta waves.


With 0-4 Hz we are in the delta phase, in deep, dreamless sleep. Whereby the sleep we sleep in bed at home still produces at least 2-3 Hz electrical impulses. It is not the logical consequence of the sheep to plunge into a state of 1-2 Hz. This is usually only the case in an unconscious state such as anesthesia or a trance. Whereby zero also stands for zero brain activity and thus for brain dead.

The theta waves indicate deep relaxation, the REM phase during sleep. We are also in the theta phase during deep meditation, hypnosis or trance. As well as when we go into the world of fantasy like in a night or day dream. In children between 3 and 6 years of age, it is often measured when they are awake, as they are still strongly connected to their fantasy world.



State of consciousnessPsychological patternBrain wavesExperience
To be awakeWaking awareness / everyday awarenessBeta waves 13-40 HzSensual perception
Yoga nidraHighly mindful awareness / borderline between sleeping and wakingAlpha waves 8-13 HzDeep relaxation with mindfulness and creativity
Dream sleepSubconsciousTheta waves 4-8 HzRelease of feelings, suppressed fears and desires
Deep sleepUnconsciousDelta waves 1-4 HzAwakening instincts and basic needs


However, the alpha waves are important for Yoga Nidra. When the alpha waves with 8-13 Hz predominate, we are in pleasant relaxation. The mind is calm, the concentration is directed inwards, e.g. on the internal organs. Increased activation of the right half of the brain enables calm, relaxed thinking and good cooperation between body and mind. Intellect and creativity, logical thinking and intuitive comprehension can be connected to one another. Access to the unconscious and thus also to the hidden resources is made easier. In contrast to sleep, this information can be integrated into consciousness on the alpha level.

The alpha experience for most people is just before falling asleep and when waking up. Most of the time, however, we only slide through the alpha phase for minutes or even seconds. The body becomes capable of complete muscle relaxation as this enables falling asleep. In the theta phase, the muscle tension comes back again. This physical relaxation is a jewel of Yoga Nidra. In this complete relaxation, our body can recharge its batteries and regenerate better. In this sense, 30 minutes of Yoga Nirda correspond to approx. 3 hours of sleep.

Often we slide through this precious state in 30-45 seconds. Stress is one of the worst barriers to alpha waves. This is also the reason why so many people wake up contrite and tired in the morning.

Through Yoga Nidra it is possible to systematically extend the time in the alpha state. By consciously sleeping and dreaming you can enter the psychological level. We get in touch with the source of self-knowledge and inspiration.