Yoga Nidra as a journey through the brain waves by Melanie Cooper .
Like yoga itself, Yoga Nidra is both a process and state. It is a set of techniques to help people get into the state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. Yoga Nidra literally means “Yogic Sleep”, but it’s not really about sleeping, it’s about exploring states of consciousness- so not really sleeping but awakening! Depending on our state of consciousness our brain emits different electrical frequencies. These have been divided into 5 main brainwave states – each have different beneficial effects. We can experience all of these during our Yoga Nidra practice:
Delta wave states give us healing and mental clarity – they are the slowest and deepest, we normally experience these during deep dreamless sleep. During Delta wave states we release anti-aging hormones, including melatonin and DHEA. DHEA is a hormone that slows the ageing process, possibly improving well-being and cognitive function. Healing and regeneration happen in this state, time spent here reduces sleepiness, enhances concentration, motor performance and elevates mood.
Theta brain waves help us with creativity, problem solving and learning –these are normally present during the dreaming state. Time spent here can increase our ability to solve problems and have creative new ideas. Many artists and inventors like Beethoven and Isaac Newton used the theta state to boost their creativity. Theta waves are also important for storing memory and learning.
Alpha waves can improve our co-ordination and mind-body integration – they are omitted when we’re awake and daydreaming, meditating or having slow gentle thoughts. Time here increases wellbeing and creativity and is great for co-ordination, calmness, mind-body integration, learning.
Beta brain waves carry us through our everyday life - and are our normal waking state. These can range from excited or stressed to depressed or peaceful. One of the things that can put us in the excited/peaceful range rather than the stressed/depressed range is Yoga Nidra.
Gamma brain waves give us high-level understanding – these brain waves are the fastest – they are thought to be flashes of insight and frictionless understanding. They can arise when the brain is quiet and functioning in an integrated way – like during Yoga Nidra
And then we come to the magical Yoga Nidra place: The Alpha/Theta boundary or the hypnagogic state. This is where the brain is at its most flexible , where it’s easiest to change old unwanted habits. It’s where we have access to the conscious and the unconscious mind. Interestingly, according to the Schumann Resonance theory, when in a state of Nidra, we match the resonance of the earth. So Nidra is the frequency of nature, where we feel connected and at home.
All of this whilst just lying down on your mat, receiving your practice from your teacher, no headstand or handstand practice, just learning to emit the frequency of nature. No hurrying or performance, just tuning into the superpowers that already are within us
To find out more about how you can teach yourself and others this magical practice, see our Yoga Nidra training page