Study after study indicates that they key to happiness and reducing stress is to understand the importance of the relaxation response. Many people come to a yoga class just because of savasana (final relaxation). The feel good you get post-savasana, meditation or certain pranayama breathing practices. So why is relaxation important? Many feel we should be healthy and focus our energy walking more, getting fitter, and losing weight. The answer is both. Stress is at the top of the list with public health issues. It directly links to heart disease, obesity, and mental illness.
Why not experiment for 2 weeks to see if adding daily relaxation and clearing your mind will impact your life. You can start changing this each day by carving out 10-15 minutes to be still and quiet. As time goes by you can slowly increasing it to 30 minutes. Many people start with a restorative yoga class. This can lead to a deeper practice of yogic sleep called Yoga Nidra.
Syl Carson with Bodhi Yoga in defines Yoga Nidra is “a state beyond Deep Sleep, where the Essential Self comes forward and expands beyond the physical bounds of the body, at the forefront of consciousness. In meditation, you remain in the Waking state of consciousness and gently focus the mind, while allowing through patterns, emotions, sensations, and images arise and dissolve away. However in Yoga Nidra, you leave the Waking state, go past Dreaming state, and beyond Deep Sleep, yet remain awake in a deeply meditative and relaxed way.”
Yoga Nidra can help us to develop better memory, increase knowledge and creativity and to transform our moods.
Once practiced regularly you can drop into Yoga Nidra quickly making savasana after a Vinyasa class pure bliss. During a flow class where you feel your heart rate pumping, sweat dripping, legs burning, the yoga teacher will likely still be talking to you calmly, encouraging you to breathe sweetly and steadily through the nose, and remind you to always maintain the breath because you’ll always be brought to the same destination – meditation and/or savasana (final relaxation). After stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, meditation cultivates the opposite to find rest with less narrative, less mental clutter, so that we might experience peace, truth, consciousness, that place beyond.
The point is to be able to come down from all that goes on in life quickly to find that calmness and then you won’t live with stress but with stress relief.