Updated: Feb 21
In our Western culture the tendency to be primarily active throughout each day is equated with what is necessary to attain success. This often translates into a level of stress that is unhealthy to say the least. In today’s world many of us live lives that are fueled by the necessity to survive as well as the drive to thrive. We are encouraged to do more and be more...and more and more and more. We might enjoy our everyday activities or we may be overwhelmed by them. Whatever our individual realities may be, every body thrives best with some down time.
Particularly during this very unusual time we may be feeling anxious, fearful or possibly depressed. We may feel overcome by a sense of isolation. The challenges of these times may be overwhelming and difficult to traverse. With the possibility of more alone time, the mind may become over-active and perhaps one's inner conversation, that self-talk that can be so critical, might pervade. Habit patterns that ordinarily are not noticed just might become more difficult to manage well. With the practice of Yoga Nidra an individual has an opening to dismantle these patterns and create a more peaceful inner world by getting "underneath" such mental fluctuations and plant seeds of well-being in the subtle planes of deep consciousness.
Most often we may find that our body is in a continual state of tension, the nervous system often in state of “fight or flight”. Cortisol and adrenaline levels rise leaving us not only stressed but emotionally and physically burned out as well. We can unknowingly become addicted to this chemical response to stress which our body is producing. So much so that we don’t know how, or don’t want, to take a break and rest from our overactive lives. We may actually believe we are enjoying this fast pace until we collapse and burn out.
The practice of Yoga Nidra can be of the greatest benefit to balance out the effects of this daily lifestyle. This incredibly sweet practice can sooth a disrupted, anxious mind and heart.
We evolved as humans with complex bodily functions that are operated by our nervous systems. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) takes care of all the functions that occur in the body without our conscious participation. It regulates the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal.
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) directs the body's rapid involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations. We call this the fight, flight or freeze response. This was a life saver a few thousand years ago when an attack from a Wooly Mammoth was imminent. A flash flood of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline boosts the body's alertness and heart rate, sending extra blood to the muscles and away from the internal organs so we can run fast to save ourselves. When, for example, a 130 pound woman lifts a one ton car off her son, saving his life, the sympathetic nervous system’s response was the saving force that made this possible. Yet this same aspect of our SNS is activated when everyday occurrences take place such as while driving in traffic, working under a deadline, or during an upsetting phone call. These seemingly “normal” occurrences become the habit patterns of our lives. Consequently the process of living life actually becomes the stressor. Our body does not thrive under such circumstances. I have heard it said that this constant flood of cortisol and adrenaline can be likened to a continual pouring of battery acid on the brain and kidneys.
Thankfully we’ve been imbued with another nervous system response, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is responsible for the body's rest, digest and restore response when the body is relaxed and at ease. It basically undoes the work of sympathetic activation after a stressful situation. The PNS decreases respiration and heart rate, increases digestive functions and relaxes the body and the mind. When in meditation or while practicing Yoga Nidra it is the PNS response that nurtures us. I believe while we are in this state we are most readily available for inspiration, revelation and our deepest awakenings.
Yoga Nidra is truly a life changing experience - a practice in and of itself to compliment one’s journey towards self discovery, the practice of Yoga Nidra has many immediate attributes:
Activates the relaxation response
Improves the functioning of the nervous system
Improves the functioning of the endocrine system
Improves sleep and reduces insomnia
Helps cells regenerate and repair
Helps decrease anxiety and improve one’s mood
Balances both the left and right brain
Reduces levels of depression, stress, and anxiety
Increases in elevation of mood, quality of life, and well-being
The practice of Yoga Nidra, guided deep relaxation, also known as yogic sleep or divine sleep, is a uniquely accessible process that provides ease in which to dismantle deeply held layers of stress, tension, as well as depression and provides an opening, a doorway into a deep state of well-being. Yoga Nidra is most often practiced reclining supine on a mat on the floor, but can also be practiced sitting comfortably in a chair. Over time the practice of Yoga Nidra creates the opportunity to let go more and more deeply into profound states of deep relaxation accompanied by absolute presence and wakefulness. During such times one may plant seeds of change as one sets an intention, known as a Sankalpa in Sanskrit, one’s heart’s desire, allowing for amazing shifts in limiting beliefs and thought patterns and the occasion to tune into one’s own innate source of bliss, also known by ancient yogis as Anandamaya Kosha.
The practice of Yoga Nidra may allow for more space in your mind, opening a window into your true heart, and providing an opportunity to learn about yourself through a reflective and restful experience.
This restful yet potent practice can completely transform disruptive sleep patterns, bringing much needed rest and restoration. Taking this time to nurture oneself is often the perfect antidote for those suffering with insomnia.
While Yoga Nidra works to balance and restore the inner harmony within oneself, it also enhances one’s abilities as well as experiences while moving forward in life. Meditation and Yoga Nidra invite you to revere each moment and every encounter as a moment to cherish.
Yoga Nidra is such a powerful tool to relieve and let go of the chains of stress, anxiety, depression or insomnia.
Golden Age Yoga offers Yoga Nidra and Restorative Yoga alternating Tuesday evenings @7 pm PST
The Radiant Yogi plan is the perfect way to access these one hour journeys into deep relaxation.