Yoga Nidra vs Meditation: The Best Way to Sleep Better

yoga nidra vs meditation. a picture of a circular object in the sky

Yoga Nidra vs Meditation

I’m often asked about the difference between yoga nidra and meditation, and which is best for sleep. Both practices can be helpful for insomnia, but they work in different ways.

  1. Yoga Nidra is a form of guided relaxation that allows you to reach a state of deep rest. The practice involves lying down in savasana (corpse pose) and following along with a recorded or live voice guiding you through an experience of complete physical, mental, and emotional release.
  2. Meditation, on the other hand, is a practice of focus and concentration. The goal is to quiet the mind chatter and focus on one thing, whether it be your breath, a mantra, or a certain thought or feeling.

So which should you choose if you’re looking for help with sleep?

In this post, I’ll share my experience with both Yoga Nidra and meditation and how they’ve helped me sleep better.

Yoga Nidra vs. Meditation

Both ancient techniques Meditation and Yoga Nidra offer unique benefits for mind and body relaxation. Although their basic goals are the same, which is to develop a heightened sense of awareness, there are key differences between the two practices.

Meditation is usually self-guided with strong emphasis on the individual to manoeuvre themselves through and re-anchor when they lose focus. In contrast, Yoga Nidra is entirely guided, making it particularly beneficial for those who are new to meditation or have a particularly busy mind.

Yoga NidraMeditation
Physical BenefitsReduces stress, anxiety, and tension in the body. Can improve sleep quality.Improves immune function, reduces blood pressure, and can help with chronic pain management.
Mental BenefitsPromotes relaxation, reduces anxiety and depression, and can improve mental clarity and focus. Can help with PTSD, addiction recoveryImproves emotional regulation, cultivates a sense of inner peace and well-being, and can help with depression, anxiety
How it Improves SleepHelps to reduce stress and tension in the body, which can interfere with sleep. Induces a state of deep relaxation that can help to promote more restful sleep and alleviate symptoms of insomnia.Can help to calm the mind and reduce racing thoughts that can interfere with sleep. Can also promote relaxation and a sense of inner peace that can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
TechniqueInvolves lying down comfortably and following a guided script that takes the individual through a series of relaxation and visualization techniques.Can be practiced in a seated or lying down position, often with the use of breath awareness or a specific point of focus.
Practice LengthTypically lasts around 30-45 minutes.Can be practiced for shorter or longer periods of time, depending on the individual’s needs and preferences.
AccessibilityCan be practiced by individuals of all ages and physical abilitiesCan be practiced by individuals of all ages and physical abilities
Comparison of Yoga Nidra and meditation

Both practices can help improve sleep quality. By incorporating one or both of these practices into your wellness routine, you can experience the unique benefits of each practice and enhance their effectiveness. It is important though when to do yoga nidra. A good tip is that doing it at Brahma Muhurta time is the most effective.

My tip: Yoga Nidra they can create a powerful relaxation experience. Try to do Yoga Nidra during Brahma Muhurta time of the day and start with chanting a Brahma muhurta mantra!

What are the differences between Yoga Nidra and meditation?

1. Sleep better

Practicing Yoga Nidra and meditation can significantly improve sleep quality. Both practices can reduce stress and anxiety, improve heart rate variability, and promote the body’s “rest and digest” response, leading to better sleep quality.

  • Yoga Nidra can be especially helpful for individuals who have difficulty relaxing or unwinding before bed. The deep relaxation induced by Yoga Nidra can help to reduce stress and tension in the body, promoting a more restful sleep. Additionally, Yoga Nidra has been shown to help individuals with insomnia and other sleep disorders.
  • Meditation, on the other hand, can be helpful for individuals who have racing thoughts or anxiety that interfere with sleep. By cultivating a sense of inner calm and focus, meditation can help to quiet the mind and promote relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
fall asleep easily
copyright by

Note nor Meditation not Yoga Nidra can replace sleep. These are great complementer activities instead.

2. Goals

Yoga Nidra and meditation are two practices that aim to achieve different goals.

  • Meditation is primarily focused on calming the mind and achieving a state of inner peace and tranquility. It helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, improve concentration, and promote overall well-being.
  • On the other hand, Yoga Nidra aims to achieve a deep state of relaxation while remaining conscious. It helps to release physical, emotional, and mental tensions, improve sleep quality, and enhance creativity. While meditation helps to achieve a calm and focused mind, Yoga Nidra helps to achieve deep relaxation and rejuvenation.

Yoga Nidra is said to be derived from the 8th limb of the Yoga Tree called Samadhi – it is a state of complete and blissful union with the divine source.

Both practices are beneficial and can be used together to achieve a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

4. Breathing Techniques

Breathing techniques play a crucial role in both Yoga Nidra and meditation, but they differ in their approach and effects on the body.

  • In Yoga Nidra, the focus is on slow and deep breathing, which helps to calm the nervous system and reduce stress. This type of breathing is often referred to as diaphragmatic breathing, as it involves the contraction and relaxation of the diaphragm muscle. The slow and rhythmic breathing pattern also helps to regulate the heart rate and lower blood pressure.
  • In meditation, the focus is on observing the breath and maintaining a steady rhythm. One common technique is counting the breath backward from 10 to 1 or the 478 technique (See what should you do when the 478 sleep trick doesn’t work for you). This technique helps to improve focus and concentration, and also brings a sense of calm and relaxation to the body.

In summary, while Yoga Nidra emphasizes slow and deep breathing, meditation focuses on steady and rhythmic breathing to achieve a state of calm and relaxation.

5. Position

In Yoga Nidra, the traditional meditation position of seated is not used. There are no asanas or yoga poses as well. Instead, practitioners perform Nidra lying down on their backs. This posture is known as Savasana or Corpse Pose, with the arms resting comfortably by the sides and palms facing up. The feet are positioned hip-width apart, allowing them to fall naturally to the sides.

To support the lower back and encourage relaxation, a pillow, bolster, or folded blanket can be placed under the knees. If needed, a small, rolled towel can be placed under the neck for additional support. The purpose of this posture is to release all tension and enter deeper states of consciousness.

In contrast, the traditional meditation position is seated, with the spine straight and the legs crossed. This position promotes alertness and helps prevent falling asleep during practice.

6. Relaxation

Yoga Nidra and meditation are two relaxation methods or techniques that differ in their approach and practices. Yoga Nidra, also known as “psychic sleep,” induces a state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep, allowing for deep rest and healing.

It involves lying down in a supine position and following a script consisting of eight stages that guide practitioners through body scan, breath awareness, muscle relaxation, visualization, and Sankalpa. The instructor’s specific techniques aim to guide practitioners into deep relaxation while maintaining mental alertness.

man lying on cushion beside glass window relax

On the other hand, meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, aims to develop specific cognitive skills, such as attention and concentration. It involves seated practices, such as breathing space, mindfulness of breathing, and mindfulness of thoughts.

Is Yoga Nidra meditation?

Yoga nidra is a form of guided meditation it means “yogic sleep” in sanskrit. While it shares many characteristics with traditional meditation practices, it is distinct in its focus on deep rest and relaxation. The practice uses guided meditation, pranayama, and concentration-boosting dharana to unlock benefits for the mind, body, and soul. Yoga Nidra is a powerful form of meditation that offers unique benefits beyond traditional meditation practices.

My Tip: You can improve the relaxation by listening to white noise during a session and then using a weighted blanket all night long.

What is the difference between yoga nidra and mindfulness?

Yoga Nidra and mindfulness are two distinct practices that aim to bring awareness to the present moment.

  • Yoga Nidra is a guided relaxation technique that involves lying down in a comfortable position and moving through different layers of consciousness to reach a deep state of relaxation while remaining aware.
  • Mindfulness is a form of meditation that involves bringing attention to the present moment without judgment, typically through focusing on the breath or body sensations. The goal of mindfulness is to cultivate a non-reactive awareness of thoughts, emotions, and sensations in the present moment.

While both practices involve directing attention inwards, Yoga Nidra is a more structured and guided practice that involves moving through different stages to reach a deeper state of consciousness, whereas mindfulness is a more open-ended practice that can be done in any posture and with or without guidance.

Yoga Nidra and the subconscious mind

Yoga Nidra is often described as a form of guided meditation that allows individuals to access their subconscious mind. This is because the practice of Yoga Nidra involves a state of deep relaxation and awareness, which can lead to a shift in consciousness and a greater connection to one’s inner self.

During a Yoga Nidra practice, the individual is guided through a series of steps that help to induce a state of deep relaxation and awareness. This state of consciousness is often described as a “hypnagogic state“, which is a state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep. In this state, the subconscious mind becomes more accessible and receptive to positive suggestions, visualization, and self-reflection.


What is the difference between Yoga Nidra and Mindfulness Meditation?

Yoga Nidra and mindfulness meditation are both techniques used to enhance awareness and relaxation. However, they differ in how they are practiced and their goals. Yoga Nidra aims to reach a deep state of consciousness and relaxation, while mindfulness meditation focuses on training in awareness and gaining a healthy sense of perspective.

What is the purpose of the body scan technique in Yoga Nidra?

The body scan technique in Yoga Nidra serves the purpose of relaxing the physical body and calming the nervous system, leading to less stress and better health. It is used as an entrance to relaxation and is followed by other components that systematically work through the 5 koshas, or the 5 layers/bodies.

The body scan technique is a mental discipline that brings one on an intentional journey through the body, exploring and welcoming every aspect of it.

It uses the senses as a microscope to gather concentration and sensory awareness, leading the body and mind into a deep state of relaxation.

The purpose of the body scan technique is to help individuals connect with their body, emotions, and thoughts in a deep and meaningful way, allowing them to welcome and respond to them in new ways.

How does the practice of Yoga Nidra help to promote relaxation?

Yoga Nidra follows a script consisting of eight stages, including body scanning and breath awareness, which are used to calm the nervous system and reduce stress and anxiety. By slowing brain waves from Gamma and Beta to Alpha and Theta, Yoga Nidra promotes a state of rest and reflection, making it beneficial for people suffering from sleep disorders.

Techniques such as guided imagery and the use of sankalpas, or positive affirmations, help to rework limiting beliefs, patterns, and habits, leading to greater clarity and focus.

Scientific studies have shown that Yoga Nidra increases heart rate variability (HRV) and shifts the nervous system towards parasympathetic dominance (Polyvagal Ladder), easing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and promoting better overall health.

How does Yoga Nidra compare to Transcendental Meditation?

Yoga Nidra and Transcendental Meditation share similarities in that both practices aim to develop heightened awareness, calm the mind, increase focus, and promote spiritual growth.


  1. Both practices aim to develop a heightened sense of awareness
  2. Both practices promote relaxation and reduce stress
  3. Both practices have spiritual benefits


  1. Yoga Nidra is always practiced lying down, while Transcendental Meditation is traditionally practiced seated
  2. Yoga Nidra explores the layers of self, while Transcendental Meditation focuses on transcending the waking state
  3. Yoga Nidra is intended to move into a deeper state of consciousness and relaxation with awareness, while Transcendental Meditation aims to access a state of pure consciousness

In summary, Yoga Nidra focuses on deep relaxation and exploring the layers of self, while Transcendental Meditation aims to access a state of pure consciousness.

Is Yoga Nidra the same as body scan meditation?

While Yoga Nidra and body scan meditation share similarities, they are not the same practice.

  • Body scan meditation focuses on relaxing the physical body through breathing and moving attention to specific areas.
  • In Yoga Nidra, after the body scan, the practice goes further to work through the five koshas or layers of the body, leading to deep relaxation and a heightened sense of awareness.

While some people refer to yoga nidra as a form of guided meditation, they are not interchangeable practices.

Is NSDR the same as meditation?

Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) is not the same as traditional meditation practices. NSDR is a form of guided relaxation technique that leads the practitioner to a state of deep rest that is similar to the state of deep sleep, but without actually falling asleep. It is a passive practice where the individual is guided through a specific sequence of visualizations and sensations that help to induce the state of deep relaxation.


By lezt

Lez Taylor, Founder and CEO of Corala Blanket. She tried every sleep system and trick to conquer her insomnia for good.