YOGA NIDRA AND THE BENEFITS
Maybe you’ve practiced a few Nidras before and felt some of the benefits. Maybe you weren’t exactly sure what they were but you felt better. Sometimes when we know the benefit a specific practice. Next time you practice Yoga Nidra you’ll be aware of the benefits you’re feeling.
When we feel into our body this helps to relax the mind. This starts to slow the thoughts and the buzz of the mind. It is very difficult to think when we are tuning into and feeling into the body at the same time. We switch from thinking mind to feeling mind. We don’t have to overly focus on trying to relax, we just need to start to focus on the body and the mind will slow down.
As we start to develop our awareness of our body and breath we begin to build our interception. This is the awareness of the internal state of the body, the feelings, the mind, hunger, etc. As interception improves we are better able to sense what we need and respond to this before we get ill or reach burnout. When our interception is poor we are not able to feel out body or emotions and this can lead to disordered eating, anxiety and depression. When we improve this we start to build a path to wellness.
3. EMOTIONAL REGULATION
As we start to develop our interception we become more aware of our emotions and our feelings. This allows us space to observe these emotions and choose how to respond, rather than having these emotions control us. We still feel these emotions as they are still there, we just start to change our reactions and feel more in control. We build our emotional regulation.
4. SOOTHING THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
Often our nervous systems are jagged and discombobulated. When this happens it is a domino effect on the rest of our body and mind in a negative way. This blocks how the brain processes information and our memory. So if we start to soothe the nervous system the brains function and memory can improve. Our heart rate and blood pressure are also influenced by the nervous system and we can lower our cortisol. When cortisol is high it causes inflammation in the body and affect the immune system.
When we tune into the body, without the aim to change but instead to just notice and accept we can begin to shift our mindset to compassion for ourselves. The feeling of being anxious because we are ‘not good enough’ is stifling women and men around the world. This is peddled by the media and advertising to make us constantly believe that we need to buy to be better. Yoga Nidra is radical as it fights these powerhouses to help rebuild our self compassion and self worth!
When we are stressed and anxious sleep suffers. When we don’t sleep well we have a decreased immune system, mental functioning, increased obesity, diabetes and rates of cancer. We can improve our sleep. There are a number of life-style changes that can contribute but good news is Nidra is one of them!
When we learn how to consciously relax this can help us to sleep. This often helps the most when we wake in the night and try to get back to sleep. We sleep in 90 minute cycles, sinking down, deep sleep and coming back out so we naturally wake in the night. Use the time you would worry about not sleeping well practicing Yoga Nidra!
7. MEMORY AID
The part of the brain called the Hippocampus acts like a storage area. When this area gets full it is difficult to allow any more information in. When we sleep this information is either discarded or transferred to storage. During Nidra this same process happens and improves our memory.
Declarative memory is consolidated during delta wave states – this is verbal information of which we are consciously aware. Implicit Memory is consolidated during REM sleep – this is our knowledge of how to do things. Doing Nidra before or after studying is great to help you remember this new knowledge!
Staying in this borderline state opens up a space for creativity. When we hold opposites is something that the logical and rational mind doesn’t normally do unless we are dreaming. This allows us to explore ideas that are not rational which aid in creativity.
When the logical brain is switched off, the prefrontal cortex, we can make connections and think outside the box of our normal waking consciousness. To develop our ability to be creative we need to have the Vagus Nerve and the Pre-Frontal Cortex toned, active and switched on! Lucky yoga Nidra helps with this!
ADVICE TO BETTER YOUR PRACTICE
- Think about where and when you would like to practice. What time works best for you and fits into your schedule.
- Always put your phone on flight mode or off
- Do not disturb sign on the door
- Use props to get comfortable
- Sit or lay down
- Try to have the room dark or wear an eye pillow
- Support the head and knees with a prop or pillow
- Perhaps practice off your bed as you may fall asleep more easily
- Be warm but not too hot
- Cover yourself with a blanket as when you drop further into the practice your body temperature will drop too
- Make sure you have time to transition back and not rush into driving too quickly
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