We’ve all had those weeks where there just weren’t enough hours in the day to work in sufficient sleep. Or maybe we slept but just didn’t feel rested because we tossed and turned throughout the night. Well, Ayurveda and Yoga have a healthy way to catch up that’s actually good for you. And what better time than the beginning of the year to integrate this healthy practice into your daily routine.
Yoga Nidra or yoga sleep is “a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping…. It is a state in which the body is completely relaxed, and the practitioner becomes systematically and increasingly aware of the inner world by following a set of verbal instructions,” so says Wikipedia. For me, it offers several key benefits that make it a joyful addiction.
Some of the benefits of yoga nidra include:
- It allows you to experience deeper, healing levels of consciousness. According to the Yoga Journal post entitled Your Brain on Yoga Nidra, “The relaxation response balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and balances the left and right brain.” As a result, your brain shifts from the Beta state, an awakened state with lots of brain activity, which is necessary for normal life. As your Yoga Nidra session progresses, the brain moves through the following brain wave states:
- Alpha – a calmer state where the brain powers down by releasing the mood-regulating hormone, serotonin
- REM Sleep/Dream State – a deep Alpha/high Theta state where thoughts slow and super learning occurs. This is the brain wave state where emotional integration and release happen, structures in the brain change, and you begin to enter the gap of nothingness.
- Delta – mentally the quietest and most restorative of the states, similar to being in a coma or under anasthesia
- Gamma – a state of deep surrender that feels more connective with universal consciousness than with your physical body. This is a state that is never reached during sleep, and some students may never reach it, but it is extremely healing and restorative once attained. It is the fastest of the brain wave frequencies and the most subtle, requiring silence of the mind.
- Waking State – a functional state with a higher level of relaxation and awareness, free from emotional triggers.
- Forty-five minutes of Yoga Nidra is the equivalent of 3-4 hours of normal sleep (SLEEP HACK!). In addition, if you practice Yoga Nidra on a regular basis, you will fall asleep more easily and sleep sounder throughout the night.
- Regular practice elevates the mood. Like meditation, it helps activate the relaxation response and improve the functioning of your nervous system and endocrine system, which helps balance your hormone levels. In addition, it helps cells regenerate and repair.
- Increased immunity and overall wellbeing. Focus on the third eye helps stimulate the pineal gland, which is located directly behind the third eye in the center of the forehead. The pineal gland helps regulate hormones in the body and can increase the release of melatonin for enhanced relaxation and sleep. Circadian synthesis research demonstrates that the release of melatonin modulates the antibody response and antagonizes the immuno-suppressive effect of corticosterone, thereby strengthening the immune system even when you are exposed to continual stress levels.
- Greater awareness is created, helping individuals make decisions that are more harmonious with their bodies and enabling them to respond to stressful situations void of emotional triggers.
- Greater longevity. One of the three major causes of disease in Ayurveda is “Time and Motion”. Mentally, our long-term health depends on us being able to rest our mind from time-to-time. As Deepak Chopra says in his book, Perfect Health, if you were to meditate just 10 minutes a day every day of the year for one full year, you would get that year back at the end of your life. That is how powerful it is to let your mind go blank and completely shut down like you can in meditation or Yoga Nidra.
For most people, however, shutting down mentally is no easy feat. Our multi-tasking, jet-setting, Internet-everywhere world makes it hard to switch gears and embrace silence. As a result, many people struggle with slowing their thoughts when meditating. This is where Yoga Nidra comes in. It is a simpler, less challenging method of getting to the same outcome.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
You begin with a clear intention, followed by an exercise in body awareness that helps you connect with your subtle body. While I could detail the steps for you, I think it is far better for you to simply experience it. With that end in mind, I have included three options for you to try in the YOGA NIDRA DOWNLOADS section below. Or you can contact me for a demonstration session for yourself and your friends and family.
To use these options, all you need to do is commit to a time when you can truly relax (allow at least 45 minutes!) Then get yourself set up in a comfortable position lying down with a pillow under your knees and maybe one under your head. You might even want to cover yourself in a blanket to keep warm and comfy during the process. Then select a video from one of the options below and push PLAY; close your eyes and let the narrator guide your awareness. You will not be asked to clear your mind, but you will find yourself drifting to that delightful space you occupy just before you fall asleep. And at the end of your session, you should feel relaxed, energized and ready to take on your day.
If you enjoy your experience, it is my fervent hope that you will make it a part of your daily routine in 2018; there is a cumulative effect when practiced regularly! And if you would like some personal instruction, please feel free to give me a call at 818-808-7288. Yoga Nidra has changed my health and consciousness, and I hope it will do the same for you this year. Enjoy. Namaste!
YOGA NIDRA DOWNLOADS
The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have an acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Karen Callahan at firstname.lastname@example.org.