Stressed, Sleepless, in Pain? Yoga Nidra Can Help

Photo credit: Anthony Tran on Unsplash

I love everything about Yoga Nidra, especially that it’s a tool of self-empowerment and easy to use. Many of my clients find that stress melts away in just one session. Regular practice leads to lasting results and significant therapeutic effects on sleep, stress and pain management.

Yoga Nidra is guided meditation that doesn’t require any knowledge of Yoga. The listener simply gets comfortable and follows along with a trained guide through sequences of breathing, body scan, visualization and sometimes intention-setting. As the process unfolds, brainwaves shift to a state bordering on sleep. Focus moves progressively inward, cultivating deeper relaxation for the body and nervous system.

It’s absolutely fine to start in any way that works for you (remember, it’s a “practice”). Consistency develops mental “muscles” that help you gain influence over your own nervous system, mental state, and general health. Some benefits to look forward to include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Enhanced focus and mental clarity
  • Pain & stress reduction
  • Ability to self-direct relaxation
  • Replenishment of key brain chemicals 

Successfully navigating the side-effects of life is a learnable skill and teaching others to develop effective self-care is my passion. I’m excited to offer a growing collection of recorded Yoga Nidra meditations, and invite you to experience this incredible deep rest therapy (here’s a 9-minute one to get you started). More personalized, in-depth self-care coaching is also available in private or group sessions. Schedule a consultation to see what’s right for you.

Short-Circuit Stress by Thinking Small

Photo by Mitya Ivanov on Unsplas

Self-care is a hot topic. Just search “what is self-care” on Google and you’ll find billions of entries. If you’re already overwhelmed or stressed, the sheer volume of information could make matters worse. I want you to know that self-care can be simple and sustainable when you introduce tiny practices that fit your lifestyle. I know, because I did it myself when my kids were really young and I’d just had a major health scare.  

Before 2005, I would have dismissed “self-care” as impractical and new-agey. But one sunny June day I suddenly felt deathly ill and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. On the way, a paramedic comforted me, saying he recognized the symptoms and thought it was just(!) a panic attack. He was right. All of my scans and tests came back normal and I left the hospital, relieved. But the relief wore off  when I started worrying about future attacks and my young children who needed their mom. So I researched, experimented, and followed my gut for months, testing effective ways to feel like myself again. I made things up (singing nursery songs aloud to disable panic), learned to breathe differently (slow, deep breaths to calm my nerves), and discovered meditative movement (QiGong). Despite being a complete novice, I figured it out on the fly. Fortunately, I experienced the body/spirit/mind’s remarkable potential to restore itself.

At the time,  I mostly needed  effective, fast-acting stress reduction strategies. Although everyone benefits from a variety of self-care methods, this article is limited to sustainable,  simple and quick tension tamers. 

Here are 3 easy ways to help you restore inner calm. Whether you’re brand new or a seasoned self-carer, your nervous system will be appreciative (and so will everyone around you). 

The Physiological Sigh: Calm the Nervous System
2-minute video  demonstration here

2 inhales through the nose, filling the lungs
Long exhale through the mouth, with an audible sigh
Repeat 2-3 times, pausing briefly between rounds

The 5-4-3: Ground the Senses
Wherever you are, look around. Take one or two slow, deep breaths before you start, and then breathe naturally the whole time. Using one sense at a time, follow the instructions below, to anchor your mind and focus your attention.  It’s fine to use any of your senses in the order you prefer:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can hear
  • 3 things you can smell

 If you like, you might try holding your attention on each “thing” for 1-3 counts or 1-3 breaths. 

Contract-Release: Relax Tense Muscles
6-minute guided audio here This is an easy way to release tension in tight muscles by holding mild-medium tension in a specific body part for 5-15 seconds, then letting go. It is not intended to and should never cause intense symptoms or pain.  If you have any medical or musculoskeletal  issues that might be adversely affected by this type of physical activity, consult your doctor first. 

The top reasons most of us skimp on self-care (not enough time, energy, finances) don’t apply to micro-practices, and I invite you to nourish yourself with 1-2 tidbits every day. The smallness of the commitment makes it easier to say “yes” to more health, vitality and peace in your life, with modest effort. I hope you come to value them as much as I do.

If you need any support from me, I’d love to help. You can check appointment availability for self-care coaching, myofascial massage, relaxation therapies, and intuition development by contacting me directly or online. If you can’t find an open time that works for you, please reach out and I’ll see what I can do.  I also encourage you to use the free 20-minute consultation to discuss your particular issues and how my services might be of value to you.

Wishing you more peace in every day, 

Anita


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