It is well documented that Yoga Nidra in particular is excellent for reducing stress in the sense that regular practice physically changes the way the brain is wired.  During the practice of Yoga Nidra we are progressively relaxing the muscles and releasing body tensions along with focused attention to the teacher’s instructions which facilitate the practitioner to knowingly enter different states of consciousness (from Beta, to Alpha to Delta as discussed last week).  Not only that but several studies have shown that Cholesterol levels were lowered as a result of regular practice and there is evidence that we can put our problems more easily into perspective when we come back to our mats for Nidra on a regular basis.  Here is an article that summarises these findings well.

With all this goodness going on, you might be considering doing it more often….  Last week we covered practicing Yoga Nidra in bed to increase our ability to drop off and sleep more soundly for more of the night but when else is useful?  Well… it’s worth considering your Ultradium Rhythmn for that.  Your Ultra-what?  I hear you say…. Let me explain.

You know about Circadium Rhythums right…  If not, here is a summary by Ram at Yoga for Healthy Ageing:

“A circadian rhythm is any biological process—physical, mental, or behavioral—that follows a roughly 24-hour cycle, and is modulated primarily by sunlight, darkness, and temperature”

Read the full article on how the ancient Yogi’s knew all about these and Ultradium Rhythms long before the scientists got the hand of it – here.

Pilar Gerasimo in this article would say that noticing and working with our Ultradium Rhythms is essential for health and explains them like this:

“Ultradian rhythms are natural, undulating cycles of energy — oscillating patterns of energy production and recovery — that occur in people (as well as in other living things) many times throughout the day. Like circadian rhythms, but smaller.  The basics: After 90-120 minutes of sustained energy output and mental focus, the body and brain need a 15-20 minute break. Your systems use that down time for recovery, repair, replenishment and rebalancing. After which time, they return to a high level of productivity and efficiency for another 90 to 120 minutes”.

So in order to increase your wellbeing you might not want to ignore the natural lull in your energy and instead use that time for practicing Yoga Nidra in one or two of those slots of essential restoration time in the day.  You have probably noticed yourself that you naturally desire to move on to a different style of task or make a cup of tea about every hour and a half…and if your life is set up not to ignore this pattern, then going with the flow and taking a break is the very best way you can take care of yourself.  Steven Covey in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” tells the story of the man in the forest who is cutting down trees.  He is getting more and more exhausted but ignoring his natural need for a break, when along comes a stranger and says to him “Why don’t you take a break for a moment and stop chopping those trees and sharpen your saw – that way you’ll get this done much faster…”  If we don’t take time to sharpen our saw in these natural breaks which occur in our day, we will end up like the wood chopper who became more and more inefficient as he tired and allowed his saw to become so blunt he was working at half speed…

So if you want to keep your mental clarity, if you want to preserve your immune system and prevent disease, my advice is to tune in to the natural Rhythums you experience in a day and take notice of when it it time to get our your saw sharpener.  In his article on Lateral Actions, Mark McGuiness suggests that productivity is increased during the high energy periods of the day if we can take a complete break away from the task at hand and truly rest.  The best type of rest IMHO is Yoga Nidra and this week we will be learning how you can take a holiday for the mind in the middle of the day and come out of your practice feeling refreshed and ready to chop chop chop!  All in a neatly packaged 90 minute programme – funny that… that Yoga is exactly 90 mins….


Ultradian Performance Rhythm graph image courtesy of Pilar Gerasimo

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