Rest and sleep are powerful defences against stress and Yoga Nidra takes us there on the touch of a button. Developing a ‘rest response’ and building in effective recovery time is key to a long and stress-free life.
This month is Stress Awareness Month in the UK. A recent study found that one in 10 people in the UK are stressed all the time. Every day, every minute, always stressed. Can you imagine what that does to your health?
Yoga Nidra is a really useful way to escape the constant stress around us, to dip into a calm space where accumulated stress evaporates. Over time, when we realise being stress-free feels amazing and is possible for each and every one of us, we want to spend more time there. We can build up a solid defence against stress and retain all the energy that makes life exciting.
Yoga Nidra is a 20-40 minute guided meditation that takes you into a sleep-like state. Whilst some people fall asleep during the practice and enjoy an effective power nap, some people remain conscious whilst your body enters a deeply relaxed sleep state. This half-way house is incredibly restorative for body and mind but also allows you to practice entering and staying in a calm state.
Yoga Nidra – Stress Defence / Rest Response
Whereas at night our problems balloon out of control, the next morning everything seems more manageable. You know where to start, what’s important and what’s not. After Yoga Nidra people go back to their days, or their work, feeling more in control, focused and clearer
2. Stress valve
Nidra provides a quiet space during the day for stress to surface and release, avoiding a build-up of stress. Stress is not necessarily a bad thing. Adrenaline and stress keep us focused and productive. However one of the problems of a busy stressful day is that our stress builds up throughout the day and when we get into bed at night, our mind starts racing. This prevents us getting the sleep that we need to process the day’s events and to deal with the next day, creating a negative feedback loop.
During Nidra, you are given the space and guidance to witness physical sensations, breathing, emotions and external sensations. Exploring these sensations in a state of relaxation helps us to witness what’s going on in our body and when we listen, the noise dials down. I tend to think of it like a screaming toddler ‘look at me, look at me’ – when you look, they stop. When you go back to your everyday life, you will be more aware of how you react to stress, which is the first step to change.
Healthy sleep can make us more resilient to stress and help us on our journey to managing chronic stress. If you are not sleeping, all other attempts to change will be slower and less successful. If you are trying to manage your stress levels, but you are not sleeping well, your body will remain in a state of stress despite your best intentions. Nidra is a great way to reconnect with your natural ability to sleep, by taking you into a state of sleep through a guided meditation.
Practice Yoga Nidra at home using a free recording from the Yoga Nidra Network.