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Difference Between Yoga Nidra and Meditation

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Yoga Nidra and meditation are both popular forms of relaxation and mindfulness, and they frequently need clarification with one another. The main difference between Yoga Nidra and meditation is that the Yoga Nidra position is only lying down. In contrast, the meditation position can vary and is often done sitting cross-legged.

Yoga Nidra and meditation are both centred around self-awareness, but each has unique approaches. Although both practices involve the body and mind, they differ in how they're practised.

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra, also known as yogic sleep, is a form of deep relaxation that reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase physical and mental well-being. During a Yoga Nidra practice, the body is completely at rest while the mind is in a state of conscious awareness. This can be achieved through breathing techniques, visualizations, and body scanning.

yoga nidra posture
Yoga Nidra posture

The aim is to reach an inner state of consciousness where tension is released, and the mind is free of distractions. Yoga Nidra can be part of an overall wellness program, helping reduce stress, improve concentration, and cultivate relaxation and inner peace. Through regular practice, one can gain mental clarity, physical balance, and a deeper connection to oneself.

Yoga Nidra has its roots in ancient India, where it was used to help people find peace and relaxation. It's a guided practice involving deep relaxation, where practitioners focus on their breath and body sensations. This practice helps to calm the mind and relax the body.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is focusing and clearing the mind to achieve a desired mental state. Meditating allows the practitioner to reach a level of heightened awareness and insight. This can help to reduce stress, increase relaxation and improve overall well-being.

Typical meditation posture
Typical meditation posture

In addition, research has shown that meditation can help to improve mental clarity and anxiety while boosting creativity, empathy, and emotional regulation. It can be done anywhere, anytime, and requires no special equipment. It is an effective way to promote focused attention and self-regulation. With regular practice, meditation can help to cultivate deeper self-awareness and increase inner peace.

What is the difference between Yoga Nidra and Meditation?

Yoga NidraMeditation
OriginIndia (Sankhya philosophy)India (Vedantism tradition)
PostureLying downOften cross-legged
Duration20 minutes - 2 hours10-20 minutes
FocusImages and Body relaxationFocus and Breath
ConsciousnessConscious and Unconscious statesHeightened Awareness
2 Main BenefitsImprove sleep and release body's tensionReduce stress and calm your mind

Posture: Yoga Nidra is only done lying down, while meditation is often done sitting

Meditation is typically done while sitting to prevent the body from falling asleep due to relaxation. Sitting posture helps to maintain alertness and concentration, which are essential components of Meditation practice.

Since Yoga Nidra's posture is lying-down, it is considered a very difficult meditation because you mustn't fall asleep. To facilitate the transition into more profound states of awareness, it is advised to adopt a reclined posture to dispel any tension that may be present.

Duration: Yoga Nidra is longer than meditation

While meditation typically lasts 10 to 20 minutes, Yoga Nidra is significantly longer (generally from 20 minutes to two hours).

This extended practice of relaxation gives your body and mind the extra time it needs to fully enter a state of deep relaxation and release any built-up tension. During a Yoga Nidra session, it is not uncommon to experience profound peace, insight, or simply a sense of deep rest and rejuvenation.

Focus: Yoga Nidra involves focusing on images and body sensations, while meditation is focused on the breath

The third difference between yoga Nidra and meditation is the focus. Yoga Nidra involves focusing on images and body sensations, while meditation is focused on the breath.

body energy when doing yoga nidra
Yoga Nidra body sensation

While both practices involve concentration and the presence of the mind, focusing on the breath is a more traditional form of meditation. In yoga Nidra, the aim is to become aware of the body and emotions, while in meditation, the objective is to become aware of the breath. This focus on the breath cultivates a sense of calmness and clarity of mind.

Consciousness: Yoga Nidra involves conscious and unconscious states, while meditation is done with a heightened level of awareness

Yoga Nidra involves both conscious and unconscious states, intending to achieve relaxation and rejuvenation. This often includes a process of awareness and visualization, which can be used to release any negative thoughts and emotions.

Meditation, on the other hand, is done with heightened awareness to become more mindful and present. The focus is on observing the thoughts and emotions that arise without judgment and allowing them to pass without attachment. By engaging in both, a person can achieve greater understanding and clarity of mind.

Effort: Yoga Nidra requires less effort than classic meditation but you have to fight not to fall asleep

Yoga Nidra is a much easier and more passive form of relaxation compared to meditation, which can require some effort and focus. While both practices have the same goal—to still the mind and bring about deep relaxation—Yoga Nidra is always guided, much more structured, and provides clear instructions for achieving that relaxation.

In Yoga Nidra, the challenge is not to fall asleep as there is a greater emphasis on the physical body, whereas meditation focuses more on the mind.

Benefits: Yoga Nidra helps with deep relaxation, while meditation helps with focus and reducing stress

Yoga Nidra and Meditation are two powerful practices that can be used to improve overall mental and physical health. While both techniques provide various benefits, their approaches and outcomes differ.

meditation reduce stress

Here are some benefits that are unique to each practice:

  • Yoga Nidra helps with deep relaxation and calming the mind and body. It also helps to restore good sleep and release tension in your body.
  • Meditation helps with focus and reducing stress. It also helps to improve concentration, build self-awareness, and cultivate inner peace.


Yoga Nidra and meditation are different yet powerful practices that cultivate inner peace, clarity, and awareness. While meditation involves focusing one's attention on a single point, yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation technique that enables one to access a state of profound stillness and awareness. With exercise, both practices reduce stress, increase self-awareness, and promote a sense of well-being.

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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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