Did you know that there’s a style of yoga that just involves relaxing on a mat, blanket, or even your bed? As a yoga teacher and studio owner, I often hear students say that they have a hard time shutting their brains off, and they are right. We can never completely shut our brains off, but we can learn to control what comes in and leave out what doesn’t serve us. There is so much information coming at us, and it can be challenging to decipher what is good and what is not.
Yoga Nidra involves slowing down and chilling out. So does meditation. While some people tend to lump them together, they are two different practices.
Yoga Nidra is often called yogic sleep because it induces states of mind that are between being asleep and being awake, resulting in deep relaxation and rejuvenation. It is a meditation and conscious relaxation practice that is intended to induce total physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. It works with the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system regulates processes of the body that take place without a conscious effort (heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and blood flow). This system also includes the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous systems. Yoga Nidra not only helps calm the sympathetic system as regular meditation does but also activates the pineal gland which is responsible for releasing the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant. It can also help manage immune function, blood pressure, cortisol levels and induce restful sleep.
Lack of sleep is one of the common complaints today as well as a busy mind. The body and the mind are filled with stress and tension which leads to disturbed sleep and insomnia. Yoga Nidra helps to regulate this and improve the functioning of the physical body.
“The results of the practice of Yoga Nidra can be clinically examined. Those who are suffering from high blood pressure, high blood sugar, peptic or gastric ulcers, problems with blood circulation, or tension and stress will see improvements after practicing Yoga Nidra.” – Path of Fire and Light, Vol. 2, Swami Rama
If you are interested in exploring a relaxation practice and especially interested in reaping the rewards, I encourage you to come and experience the wonderful effects of Yoga Nidra at Palmetto Yoga & Reiki Center.
By Josee Madison, owner of Palmetto Yoga & Reiki Center