Do you ever feel anxious for no apparent reason?
Are your sleep patterns erratic?
Losing weight is proving difficult?
Feel as if constantly stressed with no way out?
If any of these questions apply to you then I have something that can help you sleep, enable you to relax and change your life in only 20 minutes.
I started to explore various relaxation techniques and things I can do to help me sleep about 4 years ago. I was running my own business and suffering quite a bit from stress, lacking in sleep and feeling very anxious with overwhelm every day.
I tried many different breathing techniques, mindfulness, meditation and yoga and really felt it helped me to face my problems in a much more pragmatic way and also enable me to deal with my life and the world around me in a much calmer and relaxed state.
So how can how help you to sleep and change your life?
The Answer – Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep)
Yogic sleep is a deep relaxation technique that can last between 20 minutes to 45 minutes in length.
Research has shown that 45 minutes of Yogic Sleep is the equivalent of about 3 hours of normal sleep.
However, it is still important that you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. Adding Yoga Nidra into a daily routine will place you into a much calmer state throughout the day. It can also help you to sleep deeper and prepare you for bedtime.
How Does It Work?
Yoga Nidra is a practice which comes from a spiritual essence like other types of Yoga.
The practice works on deep relaxation at a conscious level but affects the unconscious mind.
There are 4 steps to an average sleep pattern
Where the brain waves trigger an alertness at a Beta State
A point where your state of mind shifts to an Alpha State
At this time you are entering Theta Waves but still remain conscious. Yogic sleep helps get to this state.
Slow waves of unconsciousness
Benefits Of Yoga Nidra
Just as sleep is important for rest Yoga Nidra allows you to feel calm, relaxed and can also pose some restoration to your body. When finished your practice you come away feeling more peaceful in yourself and grounded to the world around you.
As I mentioned earlier it is quite a Spiritual Yoga Practice which gives you feelings of
Control of emotions and overall well-being
Feeling of being more alert and focused
Increased connection to yourself, others and the environment around you
Known to improve
Physiological Well Being
Control of Blood Glucose Levels
How Simple Is It To Start?
You can do this practice in your own home through many YouTube Channels or visit a Yoga Studio whichever is the most practical. My recommendation is that you add into your daily life or a minimum of 3 times per week to notice a difference. Start with 20 minutes and build up accordingly.
A guided Yoga Nidra session will talk you through the various steps with music taking out all the hard work for you.
A session irrelevant of time will go through the following 7 stages.
Always lying down with your arms at the side of your body. Ensure that you are comfortable by using pillows and props and even a blanket to keep the warmth in. You might find that as your body slows itself down you might start to get a little cold.
Simple Pranayama breathing techniques will be used. Sometimes the session will move to alternate nostril breathing. Just like many other Yoga Practices learning how to inhale and exhale for longer, with one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest will be brought in.
What you are trying to do is about settling your body into relaxation through focusing your brain on your breath.
Set A Positive Intention
All through this practice you are staying awake which is important. You then set a positive intention such as “I welcome relaxation” and repeat this 3 times. At this point you are into a deep relaxation state but important to not fall asleep.
Slowly relaxing even more, you start to scan your left side of the body and then move across to the right.
An example would be starting at your left small toe and then move across to the right foot. You slowly make your way relaxing your whole body up through your legs, torso, back, arms, shoulders, neck, facial muscles and finishing at the head.
Feeling more relaxed and calmer than start to take your whole body as one to deepen even further.
Next you will be taken through a route of visualization for example a “beautiful place” “the ocean”, a “beautifully coloured field of nature” where you completely and utterly feel total relaxation and allowing all your senses to explore.
In this even more relaxed state, you will repeat your affirmation a further 3 times.
Slowly awaken fully after your 20 to 45 sessions feeling calm, refreshed, and relaxed.
You can obviously do this for yourself, but I believe at the beginning having someone else to take you through these stages will enable you to relax completely.
How Can Pranayama Breathing Help Me?
Pranayama is a technique that has come from India over 6000 years ago and is part of every Yoga practice in some form or other, both physically and psychologically.
It is basically a formal practice to control your breath which is the source of our energy “Prana” or “Vital Life Force”.
In our everyday life breathing is an involuntary mechanism and the aim of relaxing is through a controlled way.
Pranayama breathing exercises help to take control of your breath or retain it through deliberate methods of inhalation and exhalation. It is both a specific mental and physical practice.
When you get deeper into things you start to understand that breathing is part of the Autonomic Nervous system. This is what controls our muscles and vital functions without us knowing and essentially helps to keep us alive.
The Autonomic Nervous System works outside of the Central Nervous System and works on two levels.
Deals with the Parasympathetic pathways of relaxation and digestion.
Our sympathetic pathway which is the control of our “Fight or Flight” mechanism.
Both the craniosacral and thoracolumbar work to oppose one another as we go through our everyday life.
It is thought that a highly trained Yoga Practitioner or Buddhist can slow their heart and control their body temperature.
I believe that self-care is important for all of us for both the body and the mind. We lead such busy stressful lives and often feel that we cannot cope with these everyday pressures. This occurs because we fail to get a good night’s sleep. Breathing techniques play a huge part in trying to help us to help ourselves.
There are so many ways to do this so I hope that you will try Yoga Nidra as it really is a beautiful practice even if only for 20 minutes. Surely getting a good night’s sleep and a better life is worth it?
Let me know how you get on or if you want to know more in the comments below.