Health Benefits of Yoga Nidra (Yoga, What!?)
Yoga Nidra. Have you heard of this? This is not only a great way to get better sleep but it enables you to tap into your creative self and experience who you are at your deepest level; without the labels society has placed upon you. In other words, when your brain is in the deepest state of relaxation before your body falls asleep, you are your highest form of consciousness. You are no longer someone's partner, sibling, parent, or even gender. More importantly, this is where pain (physical and emotional) subsides and love resides. Some spiritualists say that if you believe in higher consciousness/God/Universe, whatever you title it, that it is in this state that you feel at "one" with it.
Yoga Nidra is also called, "Yogic Sleep". Yoga Nidra allows our bodies to sleep while our minds remain awake. Science knows that our brain chemistry changes the closer our bodies and minds get to actual sleep. While we're awake and participating in our day, we operate at beta and alpha states. We may go in and out of anxiety (beta state) then when we take a walk, say, in the woods and become more present with nature, we move into more of an alpha state (relaxed and passive). When we move into theta and even delta states, it is here that we experience unconditional love for ourselves and others . In these states there is no such thing as anxiety and no such thing as depression. I would venture to say no such thing as mental illness of any kind in these states. I don't know anyone who is considered "living with a mental illness" while they're sleeping.
Creativity flows in Yoga Nidra. In this deep relaxed state, studies show that neural pathways that have never been used will open up (they've been waiting for you!) thus, forming a new habit! The old pathways, like a trail in the forest that is no longer walked upon, are no longer used. This means new behaviors, feelings, or thoughts can become part of one's neurobiology and we have the ability to begin shedding old beliefs and behaviors. How cool is that!? Manifestation, here I come.
It only takes practice but it's my favorite type of practice because I just have to lie or sit there and do nothing.
I suggest you find out for yourself how great it feels to experience yoga nidra. If you decide to practice a yoga nidra during the day, keep a notebook handy so that when you awaken from it and come back into an alpha state (upon waking), you can write down whatever comes up for you before distractions of life begin creeping back in. Try remaining as still as possible as your body wakes up.
I like to practice yoga nidra to get a very deep and restorative sleep so I do it lying down at bedtime. I recommend finding a yoga nidra on youtube with a practitioner whose voice you find pleasing to listen to and that you find one who instructs you to "set an intention" or "sankalpa". It is in this "intention setting" phase of yoga nidra that you will state to yourself what it is that you need in your life; a positive short statement in the present tense. I like to state something like, "I feel deeply loved" or "I am peaceful and one with God". If I am faced with, say a medical issue, I may choose something like, "I know that my body is healthy and I move with ease". You get the idea.
I've included one of my favorite yoga nidras here in this blog. It's the first one I've ever found and still enjoy listening to it after years of practice.
So try it. I'd love to hear about your experience.