Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation
Yoga Nidra is an ancient form of deep relaxation that is a great way to reduce stress and tension. This practice has helped many manage a variety of issues that create chronic stress, like life challenges and situations that our society is in now dealing with like Covid 19, and social distancing. This practice can really help us. Yoga Nidra can help us deal with our current situation.
It is an easy practice that does not require any special physical ability, no special clothes, it only requires the desire to relax! Sometimes called Savasana (or corpse pose, done at the end of a yoga class) or Yogic sleep. Nidra is typically done lying flat on your back but can be done anywhere, anytime you can find a quiet place to just breathe. It could be an office, bathroom, or even your parked car.
The focus is on the breath and releasing stress and mental tension, and connection with your breath. The process involves scanning your body mentally, while breathing deeply into the diaphragm. As you breathe and notice the tension, your teacher or guide will ask you to release it. You will be encouraged to release any thoughts and just focus on this breath. With each breath you are invited to release even more, eventually leaving you with a sense of peacefulness and lightness of spirit.
This practice can be very challenging for some of us with busy minds. The key is to stick with it and establish continuity, that is why we call it a practice. Through our practice and continuity, eventually the brain becomes more trained to relax. We are establishing new neural pathways in our brain that create relaxation responses more easily.
After a while, we can activate our deep relaxation response, called the parasympathetic nervous system through our breath more readily. Through this, we bring ourselves more peace in our daily lives. Relaxing facial muscles, softening the jaw and relaxing the neck can often times lead to snores in class. We all know sleep is very healing, but in Nidra it is more of a place between sleep and awake that we seek that activates the response. As you train your brain to activate this deep relaxation response it becomes more accessible when you need it. As life ebbs and flows just the act of taking a deep breath can begin to immediately relax you.
Classes are typically an hour, where you will be guided to fully relax. Yoga Nidra can improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and boost your immune system. Yoga Nidra is great for health care workers, and first responders who spend much of their day on high alert. Often times, the response goes dormant. Those with such demanding jobs can benefit most from this practice. Basically we are creating good habits, and responses through deep relaxation. This practice can come in handy to bring us more peace, love and happiness in our everyday life no matter what goes on around us.
How to do it:
- ~ Find a quiet space
- ~ Close your eyes
- ~ Breathe deeply
- ~ Mentally scan your body, noticing tight spots and breath into them, thinking about letting go, mentally direct your breath into these places. (You can accompany this with soft music but focus, and observe your breath letting it begin to naturally get deeper)
- ~ Let your thoughts be fluid, do not judge them or dwell on them
- ~ Practice this for at least five minutes daily.
- ~ Release out of it slowly starting with little stretches and working into bigger ones.
- ~ Notice how you feel before you get up, proceed slowly.
You will begin to be able to do this without much thought over time and it becomes a great tool
• Sleep can improve
• Digestion can improve
• Pulmonary function can improve
• Blood pressure can become more balanced
• Over all well being
From: Marti Ewing , E-RYT, 500 , C-IAYT
Whole Health Yoga Therapist