woman lying on the floor with her legs extended toward the sky. Her legs are resting on the wall. She is using a yoga mat, a blanket, and a yoga bolster to support her body on the floor. There are candles lit in the background.

Yoga to Destress & Sleep Better; Yoga Nidra and Candlelight Yoga

As we enter into a new year, there is often a desire or push toward renewal, reevaluation, or rebirth. Whether you like to create new year’s resolutions, or if you feel that the calendar keeps rolling without too much significance, opportunities to destress and sleep better can help all of us live healthier more fulfilling lives. We’re taking a look at two styles of yoga (yoga nidra and candlelight yoga) that promote deep relaxation for the mind and body and promote restful sleep.

Yoga nidra is ancient practice dating back thousands of years and originating in India. History shows us that yoga nidra was practiced through verbal teachings around 1000 BC. While practices have shifted since yoga nidra was invented, the ultimate goal remains: to connect to ourselves, our highest purpose, and take the lessons of yoga off the mat and into the world with us. Yoga nidra is typically guided and brings us into a state of conscious relaxation, between waking and sleeping. Nidra encourages deep rest and relaxation and brings awareness inward.

Candlelight Yoga is a newer trend in western yoga. Candlelight yoga primarily uses candles or very soft lighting to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere to practice yoga either at home or in a studio or group setting, typically at nighttime or sunset. Movements in candlelight yoga are typically gentle, restorative, and/or slow, inviting you into a deep sense of calm, crystalizing awareness of the mind-body connection.

Practicing yoga nidra and candlelight yoga are great ways to down-regulate your nervous system, opening opportunities for stress reduction, calm, and prepares your brain for restful sleep.

Take a look at the opportunities below in San Diego!

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra, also known as “yogic sleep”, is a form of guided meditation through several stages as your body rests between wakefulness and sleep, with the goal being to find a state of conscious relaxation. This is what makes yoga nidra different from traditional meditation, which is practiced in the “waking state” and encourages focus. The practice also invites you to lose focus.

Unlike some styles of asana, nidra simply requires that you lay down. No complex moves are involved; all your body needs to do is reach a comfortable resting position (sitting is always an option if that is most comfortable). This practice is also flexible and can be molded to fit your schedule.  You can practice for 5 minutes or as long as an hour. An instructor can guide you via a live class, virtual, or even a recording (check out this website for a library of recordings). Depending on the type of nidra and guidance offered, you may experience visualizations and physical sensations.

While Yoga Nidra is known to encourage better sleep, it doesn’t need to be practiced at bedtime. Let the practice help aid your mind if you’re feeling anxious during the day – some people report that they feel as if they took a long nap after a session!

Interested in trying a Yoga Nidra class? Check out these offerings in San Diego:

Pier to Point Wellness (Point Loma/OB)

OG Yoga (Normal Heights)

Root Flow Studio (Sorrento Valley)

Sojourn Healing Collective  (Golden Hill)

The Little Yoga Studio (Cortez Hill)

Trilogy Sanctuary (La Jolla)

Yoga Jai Ma (Virtual)

Candlelight Yoga

This pre-bedtime class is a popular type of yoga to take in the evenings as your body and mind wind down. Rather than lying down for the duration of a practice (like with nidra), candlelight yoga is about gentle, restorative movements – with the ambiance of soft candlelight, signaling our bodies and minds to slow down! The purpose of these classes is to relax and prepare your body and mind for a restful sleep. 

You don’t have to take a class to enjoy the benefits of candlelight yoga. To create the setting at home, turn the lights down in a quiet room, light a candle or two, and play some soft music. Take your body through a few easy, slow movements and stretching exercises. If you prefer guidance, we’ve highlighted several local studios that offer candlelight yoga classes below.

Have you tried yoga nidra or candlelight yoga? We’d love to hear about your experience and personal journey! Contact us and share your experience.

Curious about San Diego Yoga News and what we’re all about? Check out this post featuring San Diego Yoga News founder, Bridey, to learn more about the vision.

P.S. Want to be featured on the blog? We’re looking for guest writers to share about their yoga journey or share best practices and tips. Does this sound like you? If interested, please fill out this form and we’ll be in touch ASAP! We look forward to hearing from you!