Benefits of Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra has many benefits – especially in triggering the rest and digest function of the body, combating insomnia, and enhancing mental wellbeing. It also gives us a way to plant our intentions deep into the subconscious mind, and enables us to manifest those changes into our lives.
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1. Triggering Rest & Digest functions
If you’ve been active on EKA, by now you’re aware that one of the major benefits of yoga is in helping one flip the switch toward a more restful and relaxed state of being. That relaxed state, in turn, is where our body is able to do its very best with all its housekeeping functions — digesting / processing food, building antibodies and carrying out an effective immune response, maintaining balance (homeostasis,) etc. Yoga Nidra takes one into a prolonged period of deep relaxation, thus helping the body to repair, defend, and maintain a healthy state. For example, one study found that diabetic patients had better control of fluctuating blood sugar levels while on a regimen involving Yoga Nidra. There is also some evidence that a practice of Yoga Nidra results in higher Heart Rate Variability, which correlates to greater resiliency in the face of stress, greater cardiovascular health, and less risk of heart disease.
2. Combating Insomnia
Insomnia and lack of quality sleep has been linked to increased risk of stroke, anxiety, depression, obesity, heart disease, and a variety of other disorders. It won’t come as much of a surprise to practitioners of Yoga Nidra that it can be employed to help people achieve better sleep. Almost all Yoga Nidra practitioners go through a period, usually early on, when they find it tremendously difficult to stay awake throughout the practice.
While there has been little scientific study of the practice as a treatment for insomnia, there is preliminary evidence that Yoga Nidra can be of benefit in getting to sleep and spending less of one’s sleep time in a waking state.
Note: There is a challenge in using Yoga Nidra for insomnia in that it can become a challenge to stay awake through the practice to use it for other purposes. For this reason, one may want to keep a Yoga Nidra for insomnia practice distinct from one’s regular practice (e.g. only doing the insomnia practice in bed at bed time and focusing on component practices (stages) that are directed toward maximum relaxation.
3. Enhancing Mental Well-Being
If it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Yoga Nidra can help people to sleep, it might come as a surprise that there is reason to believe Yoga Nidra can enhance levels of self-esteem. Studies have found reporting of increased self-esteem in both college students and burn victims upon adopting a practice of Yoga Nidra.
While the science is so far along as to offer definitive insights as to why Yoga Nidra enhances self-esteem, a couple possible pathways might be considered. Like other inward-looking practices, Yoga Nidra helps one become more aware of patterns of self-criticism, and becoming aware allows one to begin to question these negative thoughts. There is also the matter of the seed planted in the unconscious beginning to take hold.
There are a few studies that have found that patients reported lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression after beginning a practice of Yoga Nidra. While there is a great deal yet to be learned, there is good reason to believe that Yoga Nidra can be an important part of one’s health and well-being regimen.
This is, by no means, a complete overview of the benefits to be gained from Yoga Nidra. The practice offers some of the benefits of other deep relaxation exercises, while at the same time allowing one to pursue similar goals to those pursued through self-hypnosis.
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