The Science and Art of Yoga Nidra

by Donna Torney on June 30, 2011 · 0 comments

Jennifer Reis is a master at the science and art of yoga nidra

The science behind yoga nidra is backed by the U.S. military. The art of yoga nidra makes it much more than your average body scan

Listening to Jennifer Reis lead a yoga class ending with yoga nidra is like taking a mini Caribbean vacation.   Yoga nidra (which means “yogic sleep”) is an ancient form of deep relaxation.  This sounds exotic, but it’s really not.  Most people who have participated in a mindfulness-based stress reduction class will recognize yoga nidra as a systematic body scan.  When I first heard about yoga nidra I was skeptical, since I’ve  tried using different variations of the body scan over the years with little success.  Like most Americans I believed that I had to sweat to release pent-up stress.  But Jennifer is a master at what I’ve come to appreciate as the science and art of yoga nidra.

The science behind yoga nidra includes a 2006 study conducted at the Walter Reed Medical Center that convinced the military to start using yoga nidra (code name iRest), to help vets recover from PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury.

The art behind yoga nidra makes it much more than a body scan.  It never occurred to me to releases the tension inside my cheeks until I listened to one of Jennifer’s CDs.  But it was a life-changing moment.  Of course we hold tension inside the mouth!  The jaw is one of the strongest muscles in the body.  Most of us walk around with clenched jaws without even knowing it, sending a signal to our nervous system that something is wrong, which in turn releases cortisol into your blood stream, creating more stress.  You can get a taste of yoga nidra right now by taking a few breaths and relaxing the inside and outside of your mouth, sending a signal to you nervous system that everything is okay!  Ahhhh…. amazing isn’t it?

We highly recommend adding yoga nidra to your stress reduction tool box. Learn more about yoga nidra and Irest at the following links.

Check out this poignant PBS video clip about vets and yoga

Learn more about the iRest program

Learn more about Jennifer Reis

Have you had success with yoga nidra?  Please share your story.

We wish you twenty minutes of peace every day!

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