Becoming relaxed can have a range of health benefits as it helps balance the overall physiology. Deep relaxation practiced regularly is beneficial for the mind and can also produce a host of physiological changes.Yoga nidra In the article, “Relaxation: Surprising Benefits Detected”, (The New York Times, Science Times, May 13, 1986), Daniel Goleman points to a number of studies that show benefits of mindfulness relaxation techniques.
Yoga nidra is a very effective technique that induces a relaxation response in the body to counteract the “fight or flight” syndrome. During the guided practice, the practitioner enters a deep state of sleep with full awareness. Using the power of the mind, unhealthy thought patterns can be eliminated. Worries and tensions melt away as body and mind are restored to health. Yoga nidra helps to prevent stress and stress related illnesses.
Yoga Nidra Balances the Nervous System
As part of a survival mechanism, the sympathetic nervous system operates on a “flight or fight” mode, secreting hormones and preparing the body for action. Even a small amount of stress can trigger this syndrome, raising blood pressure and heart rate. The trouble for many people is that they continue to operate in this heightened state and find it difficult to switch off and relax.
Yoga nidra is a guided relaxation practice which makes it relatively easy to follow. The practitioner simply needs to set up their position, close their eyes and listen without falling asleep. The body and mind are progressively relaxed. The activity of the sympathetic nervous system decreases and the parasympathetic nervous system begins to counteract it. This is called the relaxation response. Positive health benefits quickly follow.
Psychological Benefits of Yoga Nidra
If stress is left untreated, various levels of distress can result. Since yoga nidra is typically done comfortably lying down, this alone can go a long way towards restoring mental health. Time dedicated to relaxation activities gives the body the message that it is okay to let go and unwind, allowing the accumulated stress and toxins to release. Some of the benefits of yoga nidra on psychological health include:
- feeling of well being due to activation of parasympathetic nervous system
- reduction of time required to fall asleep which relieves insomnia
- elimination of phobias by practising yoga nidra to safely visualize the feared experience
- decrease in symptoms of anxiety
Physical Benefits of Yoga Nidra
In yoga nidra, the person is made aware of various muscles of the body and consciously relaxes each part in turn. Initially there is more concentrated effort on proper breathing, which enables greater uptake of fresh oxygen and release of stale air. This helps to oxygenate the blood and rejuvenate the cells of the body. Yoga nidra can give the physical effect of looking refreshed and younger. Other benefits of regular practice:
- lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- improvement in immune system by increasing levels of helper cells that defend against infectious disease
- relaxation that may bring relief for chronic pain sufferers
- help in widening restricted respiratory passages in asthmatics
- Some diabetics may find reduced need for insulin.
Yoga Nidra Can Promote Healing Power
In the practice of yoga nidra, the subconscious mind is open and susceptible to change. Indeed, as part of the guided technique the practitioner is invited to define a sankalpa, a personal resolve. Healing may also take place on the mental and spiritual plane. Through a specially guided, the person may be invited to implant positive and healing thought and visualize the elimination of disease.
Yoga nidra is a very powerful tool for inducing the relaxation response to offset the build up of stress. Deep relaxation provides many advantages for physical and psychological health. To attain these benefits, the practitioner would do well to set aside time for regular yoga nidra.