The Benefits and Science of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra may not look anything like the yoga you see in classes and videos, but the benefits to your health run deep.
Also known as dynamic or psychic sleep, Yoga Nidra is a progressive guided meditation that begins with a body scan and takes you deep into the center of your being. Students lie in savasana (a supine position) and maintain a state of relaxed awareness, lingering between consciousness and sleep.
The main benefits of Yoga Nidra mirror the benefits of a night of deep, uninterrupted sleep. In fact, one hour of Yoga Nidra offers the equivalent of four hours of traditional rest. When you experience a Yoga Nidra session, however, you are maintaining a state of awareness, consciously relaxing parts of the body and mind, deepening the benefits of the practice.
<<For more on the science and benefits of sleep, check out Deep Wave Sleep >>
Most of us are so plugged in and overstimulated we rarely leave our cell phones behind—even in the other room. As a result, health care practitioners are seeing higher rates of anxiety and depression, sleep disorders, and attention deficit disorder. Researchers discovered that frequent Internet users experience twice the amount of activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain as infrequent users. Hyperactivity in this part of the brain is linked to anxiety, poor attention and concentration, memory issues, and sleep disturbances (UCLA, 2012).
If you are experiencing the effects of modern day society, do not despair—research on neuroplasticity in the brain suggests that we can change our brains by changing our habits. Meditative practices such as Yoga Nidra counteract the effects of stress and hyperactivity by increasing growth in the parts of the brain that regulate cognitive and executive function, emotions, and self-control.
HEAL YOUR BRAIN NATURALLY
Do you experience phases of overeating or under eating? Have you ever pushed your body through pain and caused injury, or found your emotional signal difficult to understand? These common challenges are a result of low activity in the part of the brain that regulates interoceptive awareness, the sensitivity we have to stimuli in our bodies.
Yoga Nidra stimulates the parts of the brain that regulate interoceptive awareness. This is essential for understanding appetite; signals in the body such as pain and pleasure; and emotional cues. By becoming attuned to the messages coming from your own body, our capacity to heal ourselves and prevent illness and injury is elevated.
Discover three additional benefits of Yoga Nidra:
YOGA FOR EVERY BODY
Many yoga practices are physically demanding and not accessible to everybody. Yoga Nidra has only two requirements:
- You must have a spine.
- You must be breathing.
Every body, no matter how young, old or abled, can experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra.
THE CALMING EFFECT
The progressive relaxation experienced in Yoga Nidra stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for deep relaxation. In this restorative state, your monkey-mind abates and the body maximizes it’s ability to take in nutrients, regulate hormones and glucose levels, and boost immunity. Essentially, your mind calms down and your body begins to heal itself naturally.
Upon entering Yoga Nidra, your brain is in an active state of beta waves. The meditative sequence takes you into an alpha state, the brain wave frequency that links conscious thought and the subconscious mind. This is where thoughts begin to calm down.
As the practice progresses, practitioners experience a state of deep, relaxed awareness. The brain begins emitting delta waves, mirroring the state that the brain enters during deep sleep. The difference between deep sleep and Yoga Nidra is that you stay awake during this final phase. With such deep relaxation and awareness, you can access your subconscious memory and process past experiences in the present moment. Repressed experiences can be digested and the open, flexible state of the brain can help you change unwanted behaviors.
READY TO DIVE IN?
Check out this video and get started in the comfort of your own home: Video: 20 Minute Guided Yoga Nidra Meditation
- Self Care,
- Self Cultivation,