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What is yoga nidra?

The practice can help ease anxiety, depression and PTSD.
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A new study finds that women who experience pregnancy loss or ectopic pregnancy often struggle emotionally for months, suffering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. What can women do who have lingering PTSD from miscarriage?

There are a number of coping tips that can ease a woman's lingering anxiety and depression, including cognitive behavorial therapy, mindfulness and a technique called yoga nidra.

How to practice yoga nidra

Yoga nidra is based on an ancient yoga practice that’s gaining popularity as a way to incorporate mindfulness into wellness routines. The Sanskrit name literally translates to “yogic sleep.” During the practice, brain activity goes into a sleeplike state.

Yoga nidra is practiced lying down on your back, with an instructor. It begins with setting an intention, then progresses to focusing on breathing. Much like a guided meditation, the instructor gradually moves that focus to sounds and other senses, feelings in the body, feelings in the mind and ultimately towards self-awareness. It allows a person to examine their thoughts, feelings and desires from a detached perspective.

Just about anybody can do yoga nidra, including individuals with physical limitations, as it is practiced while lying down with very little movement.

The main benefit of yoga nidra is improved mindfulness, but studies have also pointed towards promising effects on sleep, chronic pain, depression and anxiety. Research has also linked yoga nidra to improved self-esteem in burn patients and college students, as well as several areas of well-being in teenagers.

Yoga nidra has also received attention for its role helping individuals deal with psychological trauma. Research has shown that veterans and victims of sexual assault experience who practiced yoga nidra saw improvements in post-traumatic stress symptoms. Its positive effects for veterans with PTSD were so promising that the military has incorporated it into its Wounded Warrior Program.

Many instructors incorporate yoga nidra into classes with other forms of yoga to give a full mind-body workout.