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Yoga nidra – for deep relaxation

I am exhausted. It’s the usual story – I had no idea just how tired I was until I stopped. Several years back I wrote a book called The Overload Solution (Piatkus). Reading my own words felt like being knocked over the head with a brick: ‘One day you wake up and feel as if someone has turned all the colours of the world to grey. You are overwhelmed with fatigue. All you want to do is turn over and hurl yourself back into oblivion.’

My first reaction was to beat myself up. I should have caught this before it got so far. Then I paused and told my inner critic to shut up for a moment. In the last few years I have had huge changes in my life – so many that I’m way up high on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. The last thing I needed to do was to be tough on myself: in fact, quite the opposite – I needed to treat myself with extreme kindness.

I took advice from (quite literally) my own book. I cut back on every commitment that wasn’t absolutely vital. I removed myself from my computer screen as much as possible and prioritised nourishing, comforting food, early bedtimes and as much flopping out on the sofa with my dog as I could manage. I also ordered up some support for my poor overworked adrenal glands with Lamberts Multi-Guard ADR (a multi-vitamin and mineral especially designed to support the adrenals) and Astragalus Root Extract (both available from Victoria Health

For the next piece of the puzzle I turned to Kate Taylor, a life coach and Master NLP and hypnotherapy practitioner. ‘One of my go-to tools for dealing with overwhelm and the damaging effects of stress and burnout is yoga nidra,’ says Kate. ‘Yoga nidra is known as the yoga of sleep. It’s an incredibly powerful meditation tool, in which you are in savasana for the entire session – what’s not to love about that?’

I’ve experienced yoga nidra at the end of a yoga session but haven’t tried it as a stand-alone. I was intrigued. ‘Within a 30 minute yoga nidra session you are guided by the teacher to go through layers of brainwave activity you would normally experience in each 90 minute sleep cycle,’ Kate explains. ‘You travel from beta, the awakened state; through to alpha; to alpha-theta, where lucid dreaming occurs. Then into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is where the mind is in a dream state, able to experience and work through emotions. Finally you go into delta, which is where the body and central nervous system repairs itself.’

The bottom line, she says, is that within just half an hour you gain the benefits of two hours of sleep. How magical is that? If you can get to a class, do. It’s not just blissfully relaxing and regenerating, it’s also a wonderful introduction to yoga for anyone who’s ever felt intimidated; that they weren’t bendy enough; that they didn’t have the right leggings. After all, not much you can get wrong when you’re lying on your back snuggled up in a blanket, is there? If you can’t stretch to a class, YouTube is full of sessions of various lengths so have a snooze at home.

This first appeared in Natural Health magazine.

Image by JR Korpa at Unsplash

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