Written by: Stacy Kamala Waltman
Depending upon one’s dexterity, there are many yoga asanas which are considered to be beyond our physical capacity like the sitting position of Full Lotus or the flexibility and strength required in the yogic posture of Pincha Mayurasana – Forearm Stand.
Aside from yoga, if I asked you where you experienced your current greatest life challenge you might respond, “Getting everything accomplished!”, “Finding time to relax” “Getting to sleep” “Handling all of my varied responsibilities” or “Letting Go”.
For those of us who aren’t suffering from insomnia, we may remember how to sleep but many of us have lost the art of how to truly rest.
For some, it takes great effort to resist turning on the television, and, once it’s spiraling on, can become even harder to turn off. We are often mesmerized by its constant promises of entertainment as time drains away from other more nourishing pursuits.
In this day and age of over-exertion, over-extension, a coffee hut on every corner, media over-stimulation, and excessive noise, relaxation has been pushed aside. Replaced by activity and consumed by the effort, we think ourselves lazy if we aren’t busy. Our ability to be fully present and the degree of our authenticity often becomes lost in forward moving, frenetic activity.
Wisdom too becomes lost and harder to access when we don’t pause to notice our current state of being and check in with our habitual or reptilian responses from the limbic part of the brain.
Yoga Nidra – the mental and physical equivalent of deep relaxation is often the most difficult yoga experience for people. Part Shavasana, part Pratyahara and part karma buster, it is the least physically challenging posture in the spectrum of yoga asanas because we don’t have to do anything with our bodies other than give our self permission to receive and surrender.
The challenge of experiencing the benefits from Yoga Nidra comes from the mind’s tendency to want to hold on, to do something and remain active. Yoga Nidra teaches us to let go while it supports us in total health.
As the mind adjusts to settling down in Yoga Nidra the body learns to lean into itself and the internal organs begin to unwind. Blood pressure regulates, accumulated stress begins to dissipate, the adrenal glands relax, and breathing slows and deepens. The body’s natural healing powers are allowed to rise as we surrender into inner ease.
Students who practice Yoga Nidra over time begin to relish the cumulative benefits of this restorative and rejuvenative experience. As our body relaxes the mind becomes calmer and we begin to feel better. We begin to notice that sleep is richer and our capacity for kindness expands.
As a result of our new found inner peace it becomes easier for us to make decisions with mental clarity, and we feel more connected to source.
In the practice of yoga nidra, the mind gradually becomes one-pointed allowing focus to lead into deep concentration which further leads into meditation and later, deep mediation. We learn to enter Turiya, the state between sleep and wakefulness, without loss of awareness.
According to the Mayo Clinic, if we are experiencing a great deal of stress in our lives, it is imperative to find the time for relaxation and just a few minutes a day isn’t enough to provide the stress reducing benefits of deep relaxation. For a clearer, less stressed mind, body and spirit, 15 minutes of deep relaxation a day is good while 30 minutes a day is best. This is rest at the core level leading to optimal health.
As a precursor to meditation, deep relaxation also provides relief from headaches, reduced body pain, improved concentration, emotional stability, elimination of insomnia, lowering of blood pressure, reduced fatigue, improved bowl function, reconnection to our source and less depression and anxiety. The quality of observing without judging is also developed in this pose.
When do you truly and deeply relax? The Mayo Clinic recommends a daily practice of deep relaxation. Yogi’s do too. Experience the peace, clarity, strength and restfulness of Yoga Nidra, it’s a miraculous and transformative yoga practice.
Turn down your mind and begin to turn up the quiet in Shavasana as you practice Yoga Nidra. Here is a link for class information: Yoga Nidra Classes.
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Copyright © 2008 (Stacy Kamala Waltman)