Yogic Sleep

 It’s the Yoga of Doing Less…a Lot Less.

blog-nidraHave you ever been in a yoga class and your teacher allowed time for a long relaxation at the end, but instead of leaving you in silence, continued to speak? Maybe you were told to relax your body, or were guided through affirmations or beautiful imagery? You may have been so relaxed that you thought you had fallen asleep, yet somehow you still followed the instructions as your teacher guided you to move from lying, back to sitting. The rest of your day may have seemed brighter, or you may have felt lighter and more energized. If this has ever happened to you then you have experienced a basic form of yoga nidra, a yogic method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. While benefits are experienced in short 5-10 minute sessions, the most profound impact of yoga nidra is best experienced is sessions of 30 minutes or longer.

A yoga nidra practice can alleviate muscular, emotional and mental tensions. Many also experience great shifts in negative thought patterns and habits. It is a powerful practice that can bring about deep personal insight. It is also one of yoga’s most accessible practices. It’s benefits can be experienced by anyone, in any state of health, even if they are bedridden or have never done yoga before.

blog-nidra-1Yoga Nidra translates directly as Yogic sleep, however one of the goals of this practice is actually to avoid sleep. The physical, mental and emotional release of yoga nidra is due to activation of brainwaves that are associated with deep relaxation states. When we are wide awake we exhibit a pattern of brain activity called Beta waves. When the body and mind relax, the pattern of brainwaves gradually slows, passing through two more layers of activation before eventually reaching the delta wave pattern of deep sleep. Yoga Nidra is designed to keep participants in state of brainwave activation that hovers just above the delta level.  This reflects not only the level of relaxation that we experience, but also the level of consciousness that we have access to.

In this borderline between wakefulness and sleep we are open not just to the experience of deep relaxation, but also are able to access creative, visionary states and to release emotions that may be held in the subconscious. As such, a guided yoga nidra practice has the potential to resolve deeply rooted issues, fears and stressors and to decrease anxiety, depression and stress levels. It is an ancient practice that is currently finding relevance in modern approaches to healthcare. Many healthcare organizations have begun to use yoga nidra practices with people who have PTSD, depression, substance abuse, chronic pain and sleep problems.

You do not need to be struggling with the more serious issues listed above to achieve benefit from a yoga nidra practice. People who practice regular periods of yoga nidra also report a general lowering of stress levels, better sleep and a greater sense of physical and mental well-being. I use this practice quite extensively with prenatal women to prepare them for calm, comfortable and even enjoyable births. The impact can be profound.

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You can purchase yoga nidra guides from a variety of sources or write your own relaxation script to record and listen to. Many teachers offer hour long stand-alone yoga nidra classes. At this link to my Shakti  yoga nidra trainings  find out how you can learn to bring this beautiful practice into your yoga classes, and/or to develop a personal yoga nidra home practice. The next two day training is happening this coming March 10th & 17th (two Saturdays) at the Yoga Kula Co-op. 286 Torbay Road, St. John’s, NL. Appropriate for anyone interested in learning more about this powerful relaxation and rewiring practice. Contact Bobby@ShaktiYoga.ca if you have questions, would like to join a training, or host a training at your location. Enjoy!

 

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