Yoganidrasana (Yogic Sleep Pose)

Yoganidrasana (Yogic Sleep Pose)


What is Yoganidrasana (Yogic Sleep Pose)?

Yoganidrasana (Yogic Sleep Pose)

Yoganidrasana, or the Yogic Sleep Pose, is an advanced-level supine flexion for your glutes, legs, and pelvis. 

Practitioners start this practice from a corpse position, place their feet behind the neck, and close their eyes to focus on their breath for a deep sleep-like experience. 

The longer one can hold, the more this vital reclining stretch will aid in strengthening different body parts, like—the spine, tailbone, shoulders, chest, core, and hip flexors, making one's overall physic more robust, flexible, and lengthened. 

If you are a beginner to Yoganidrasana, dive deep straight, and let's help you become familiar with its form. 

Sanskrit translation of Yoganidrasana is Yogic Sleep Pose. In the assortment of Sankrit words, 'Yoga' means 'to unite,' 'Nidra' means 'sleep,' and 'Asana' means 'posture' or 'seat.'  

Yoga Nidra is more like a psychic sleep or supine meditation position, and it's referenced in Hindu and Buddhist cultures as a deep self-awareness practice. 

According to the epic - Mahabharata, Lord Vishnu's Yoganidra position or sleeping cycle is equivalent to the cycle of one Yuga (existence of our material universe). 

Also, Shaiva and Buddhist tantras connect Yoga Nidra to meditation. 

As described in ancient Shaiva texts, Yoga Nidra offers "peace beyond words," while the Maha Maya Tantra talks about Yog Nidra as a state of perfect Buddhas who can access secret knowledge in Buddhism.  

Yoga Nidra was first used as a synonym for Samadhi in the 11th and 12th centuries in Hatha and Raja yoga texts. 

In the 14th century, the Yogatarvali described Yoga Nidra as removing "all thoughts of multiplicity" from the mind. 

Next, it was described in the 17th Hatha yoga text—Haṭha Ratnavali, as a posture and in the 18th century as a painting of Eight Chakra

According to Gheranda Samhita Yoga Nidra pose is not an asana but a Mudra (formation) to awaken the Kundalini Shakti (a form of divine energy within the human body). 

Finally, it was presented in B.K.S Iyengar's 20th-century book—Light on Yoga, and from there, it started gaining popularity as a yoga pose. 

Sanskrit Name: योगनिद्रासन    Pronunciation: yoog-nee-drah-ahs-uh-nuh

Pose Type: Reclining Stretch      Also known as: Yogic Sleep Pose 

Strengthens: Neck, Back, Inner Thigs, Hip-Flexors, Glutes, Groin, and Knees

Stretches: Inner Thigs, Calfs, Hip-Flexors, Glutes, Groin, and Hamstrings

Health Benefits of Yoganidrasana

  • Soothes the brain. 

  • Improves digestion. 

  • Strengthens the neck. 

  • Enhances overall flexibility. 

  • Reduces stress and anxiety. 

  • Stimulates the adrenal glands.

  • Strengthen and lengthen the legs.

  • Activates the Root and Sacral Chakra.

  • Increases blood flow in the whole body. 

When to Avoid Performing Yoganidrasana

  • Avoid post-injury of surgery. 

  • Avoid post-cesarian delivery. 

  • Avoid if you have severe back pain. 

  • Avoid if suffering from lumbar disc herniation.

How to do Yoganidrasana (Yogic Sleep Pose)

This detailed guide to Yoganidrasana has been divided into four easy-to-follow parts so that you can follow along while making quick progress.

Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Yoganidrasana 

To prepare your body for the yoga sleep pose, you should start with the following warm-up poses:

1. Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) - Stand in the mountain pose, and breathe in and out as your arms go overhead. Exhale, fold forward, inhale and half-lift your torso by keeping the palms on the ground. 

Next, get into a plank position, exhale as you transition into the eight-angle pose, and slide the torso forward into the cobra pose with a deep breath. 

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations)

Exhale, press into your palms, and lift into the downward-facing dog. Bend your knees and walk towards your palms. Inhale and exhale, relax the spine in a forward fold, and finally stand back up to the mountain pose. 

Perform these for 10 to 15 minutes and feel the whole body acquiring energy for the main pose. 

2. Malasana (Garland Pose) - Get into a low squat position to activate your glutes, inner thighs, ankles, and spine. Open the legs wide, keep the glutes inline with your ankles, and the knees pointing on the side. 

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Add your arms close to the chest in Anjali Mudra and press your elbows on the sides of your legs, allowing them to open up more deeply. Hold this pose for 3 to 5 minutes. 

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Yoganidrasana 

The following are steps to practice the yogic sleep pose: 

Step 1- Start by lying on your back and bending both knees towards your chest. Breathe in and out here for a few seconds to channelize all your energy into your lower body. 

Step 2- Next, take hold of your ankles or heels with your palms and draw your knees down towards the floor, below your armpits. 

Step 3- Inhale, engage the core muscles, and raise the head above the floor. 

Step 4- Rock forward and backward to ease into the yogic sleep position, and take each of your feet one by one behind the neck. 

Step 5- Ensure the ankles are crossed behind the neck and the shoulder blades rest nicely over the cushion created by your calf muscles. 

Step 6- As you feel your pelvis, inner thighs, and core muscles extending deeply, exhale and close your eyes. 

Step 7- Once you find your sweet spot, gently align your hands by gripping the glutes. 

Step 8- Focus on your breath and hold this pose for as long as you feel comfortable, and finally, exit gently by unwinding your crossed legs one by one. 

Breath Awareness: 

- Inhale - While engaging the core, raising the head and crossing the legs behind the neck. 

- Exhale - While getting into the yogic sleep mode and right before releasing the pose. 

- Inhale & Exhale - Before starting the pose and while holding the pose for a longer duration. 

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold the yogic sleep pose for 15 to 30 seconds.

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold the yogic sleep pose for 60 to 90 seconds.

Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

Forcing yourself for perfection without realizing your mistakes is not a wise choice, especially not while performing yoga asanas. 

Thus, here are some posture cues to keep in mind before getting started with your practice: 

  • Always warm up your body - In Yoganidrasana, the body requires a great deal of flexibility, so a lack of preparation can have some severe consequences. 

Therefore, ensure your overall body is thoroughly active, loose, and open to get into the primary pose before getting started. 

  • Focus on your breath - Holding the Yoganidrasana can be really intense, especially for beginners. Thus, be mindful, take control over your breath, and do not try to strain your muscles unnecessarily by holding the pose for too long if it feels painful. 

Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Yoganidrasana 

You will feel loads of physical stress in your glutes, neck, shoulders, spine, and pelvis after practicing Yoganidrasana. Therefore, try the following relax yoga poses to calm your nerves: 

1. Halasana (Easy Plow Pose): Get into the downward-facing dog pose and place a pillow between your palms when your body is still warmed up. 

Bring the top of your head closer to the floor, and roll over your spine between the arms such that the shoulders and upper back muscles are resting on the pillow.  

Halasana (Easy Plow Pose)

Adjust the neck, tighten the core, and keep the legs straight with the toes pointing. Lastly, bring your palms behind the lower back for more stability in the hold. 

Hold your spine, neck, and shoulders in this counter stretch and bring all the tensed muscles back to their natural shape. 

2. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose): This pose is excellent for calming your lower body and pelvic floor muscles. Start by sitting in Sukhaasana, inhale, and bring the soles of your feet together. 

Adjust to bring your heels as close to your pelvis as comfortably as possible. 

Hold your feet with your hands. Drop the knees wide on the sides and keep them close to the ground. 

Exhale, fold forward, touch your forehead onto the floor, and breathe. Hold this pose until all the tension is released from the inner thighs, glutes, hamstrings, spine, and tailbone. 

Yoganidrasana Modifications and Props

Don't be intimidated by the Yogic Sleep Pose, simply incorporate these variations into your daily yoga routine and prepare yourself. 

  • Practice with a chair - If your spine feels tight and your legs are not flexible enough to reach your neck, then sit on a chair. 

Place your foot hip-width apart on the ground, bend the torso forward, align the neck in between your legs and arms reaching at the back for the chair legs. 

Practice with a chair

Hold this modified stretch for as long as you feel comfortable, and let your body get more flexible for the primary stretch. 

  • Take wall support & bolster - If you can only reach any one leg behind the neck, your lower body faces asymmetry issues. To fix this, lie down on a yoga mat, so your feet touch a wall for support. 

Take wall support & bolster

Now, add a bolster pillow right below your middle back, push into the wall, lift the not-so-flexible leg, bend it, and gently place it behind your neck. 

Hold this modification for 30 to 90 seconds with few breaks in between, and over time you will gain symmetry to cross both legs behind your nape. 

Yoganidrasana Variations to Consider

Once you feel strong enough in Yoganidrasana, try these variations to challenge your flexibility to the next level: 

1. Yoganidrasana with Hands in Anjali Mudra - From the main Yogic Sleep Pose, bring your palms together and touch them together to create Anjali Mudra or Namaste formation. 

Yoganidrasana with Hands in Anjali Mudra

This variation will challenge you to stabilize the glutes and lower back without any assistance.

2. Padma Yoganidrasana with Hands at Back - This one is only for advanced-level practitioners who feel an immense amount of flexibility in their spine and pelvis. 

Padma Yoganidrasana with Hands at Back

Get into the knees-to-chest pose, lift the head off the mat, and cross the legs in Padmasana to keep your shins close to the chest. Ensure to grip the back of your glutes with your palms so that the posture is firm and stable throughout the hold. 

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Level-Up Poses After Yoganidrasana for Advanced Yogis

Similar to the Yognidra stretch, the following are a few other advanced yoga poses for your spine, glutes, and legs to open up. 

Level-Up Pose 1 - Ek Pada Sirsasana (One Leg Behind Head Pose)

Level-Up Pose 2 - Dwi Pada Sirsasana (Two Legs Behind Head Pose)

Level-Up Pose 3 - Bhairavasana (Formidable Pose)

Level-Up Pose 4 - The Shiva Pose (Grounded Leg Stretch)

Level-Up Pose 5 - Dhruvasana (Standing Formidable Pose)

Ek Pada Sirsasana (One Leg Behind Head Pose)

Ek Pada Sirsasana (One Leg Behind Head Pose)

Dwi Pada Sirsasana (Two Legs Behind Head Pose)

Dwi Pada Sirsasana (Two Legs Behind Head Pose)

Bhairavasana (Formidable Pose)

Bhairavasana (Formidable Pose)

The Shiva Pose (Grounded Leg Stretch)

The Shiva Pose (Grounded Leg Stretch)

Dhruvasana (Standing Formidable Pose)

Dhruvasana (Standing Formidable Pose)

Similar Reclining-Hip Opener Poses like Yoganidrasana

Here are a few reclining yoga poses for opening your back, deep legs, and pelvis muscles. 

  1. Supta Kapotasana (Reclined Pigeon Pose)

  2. Sucirandhrasana (Eye of the Needle Pose)

  3. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

  4. Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angled Seated Forward Bend)

  5. Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose)

Frequently Asked Questions about Yoganidrasana (Yogic Sleep Pose)

What is Yoganidrasana good for?

Can beginners perform Yoganidrasana?

What are the different preparatory poses in Yoganidrasana?

What are the benefits of Yoganidrasana?

How long should you hold Yoganidrasana?

Who should not do Yoganidrasana?

Articles about Yoganidrasana (Yogic Sleep Pose)
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