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Yoga Nidra, the importance of rest and sleep

15 Sep 2011   Shanti Gowans
Would you like to get a perfect night’s rest, every night and wake up feeling rested, alert and energised?
75% of adults suffer with sleep problems at least a few nights a week. About 10% of these suffer from chronic insomnia. When you don’t get enough sleep, the rate at which you age is accelerated. You grow old before your time.
Sleep is when your body and brain heal themselves. You need 7-8 hours of sleep every night to keep your immune system, heart health, and metabolism functioning at peak levels.
With poor sleep, you feel irritable, anxious or depressed. You have trouble concentrating. You crave sugar, carbohydrates, or caffeinated drinks.
Experts at Harvard University, the National Institutes of Health, the Mayo Health Clinic and other prominent health institutions confirm the dangers of poor sleep. 
“Lack of sleep may be related to obesity, diabetes, immune-system dysfunction, and many illnesses, as well as to safety issues such as car accidents and medical errors, plus impaired job performance and productivity in many other activities.”  Harvard Magazine, July/August 2005
Vata doshic people need about 6-7, Pitta dosha people about 7-8 and Kapha dosha folk about 8-9 hours of sleep every night to keep their immune system, heart health, and metabolism functioning at peak levels.
If you get only 4 hours of sleep for 6 nights straight, your immune system produces only half the normal number of antibodies when you’re exposed to a virus!
Additionally, sleep protects your heart. In a study of 70,000 women, aged 40-65, by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the women who slept for 5 hours or less per night were 45% more likely to have heart problems, compared to women who slept a full 8 hours.
Are you getting enough sleep?

While it can be tempting to let your doctor prescribe you sleeping pills because when you cannot sleep, you are setting yourself up to be miserable by making yourself unhealthy. Your circadian rhythms, the 24-hour cycles that make up your internal body clock, are involved in everything from sleep and mood disorders to weight gain, a compromised immune system and a variety of diseases. Addictive and often dangerous drugs such as Valium, Restoril, Halcion, Prosom, Ambient and Lunesta, or even over-the-counter sleeping aids, such as Nytol, Unisom, Sleep-Eze, and Sominex contain antihistamines and other substances, which can have side effects such as dizziness, weakness, nausea, headaches and memory loss. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that common prescription sleep aids will get you an average of only 11 minutes extra sleep a night. Yet people are shelling out billions of dollars each year for little more than 10 minutes of extra sleep. Over the years lots of frustrated, frazzled and addicted insomniacs have attended our centres.

If you just never feel rested, if your sleep problems continue, year after year, in a short while, we teach you how to fix your sleep problems: If you are local to the Gold Coast, or can commute, attend Shantiji’s YOGA NIDRA, DEEP RELAXATION AND SELF HEALING classes on Tuesdays at 12.30-1.20pm and Wednesdays 6.30-7.30pm. These classes include a simple, guided, progressive yoga relaxation session where you learn to control the state of tension in the muscle of your body. By shutting down their responses to external and internal stimulants, the practice enables a person to not only reduce anxiety, but actually reduce such problems as skin allergies and rashes. The technique involves learning when each specific muscle group in the body is tense, by tensing that muscle group, and then letting it go. This is accompanied with imagery, that initiates surface level physical and mental change, and then goes deep into your subconscious mind, so that your innermost limiting beliefs and mind sets can change, with long term and permanent results. There are also shorter relaxation and meditation classes on the timetable. 

Yoga nidra, yoga sleep, refers to the conscious awareness of the deep sleep state, referred to as ‘prajna’ in the Mandukya Upanishad.  It is widely used in the literature of post-classical yoga to denote a hieghtened state of consciousness. It is the half-aleep, half-awake state of lucid sleep, the balance between relaxation and attentiveness. The practice of Yoga Nidra develops Pratyahara, sensory withdrawal, which is the fifth limb of Patanjali’s classical yoga has the power to transform people at their core. This ancient, tantric meditation systematically guides you through each layer of being, known as the koshas, namely the physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual layers, making this a healing practice that is inclusive of your whole being. Yoga Nidra induces the relaxation response, the body’s own healing state where revitalisation and regeneration occur. It can stimulate certain areas of the brain, speed healing, bringing you effortlessly, compassionately, and rapidly into a healing state, help you decipher your subconscious code, decrease anxiety and increase awareness and optimism. Yoga Nidra has the power to transform core negative beliefs in deepest levels of your being. This improves not only your outlook, but also your health, happiness and leads a person to self-awakening. 

For home practice, use the guided instructions on Shantiji’s CD entitled SAMADHI. Once you get that first feeling of deep rest, you’ll never want to go back! And you won’t have to. This natural rest miracle is safe and non-habit forming and it won’t cause withdrawal or 'rebound insomnia' if you stop using it. You will be tapping into your body’s fountain of youth! 
Studies have shown that gentle pressure on the eyes and a completely dark environment enhance relaxation. The body naturally responds to this stimulus (or lack of it) by slowing down. So find your eyepillow, lie down, cover yourself with a blanket, and practice Samadhi.
Ayurvedic herbals also have something that can really help. This is an all-natural secret to a perfect night’s sleep. It’s available now and helps your mind and body relax so that you enjoy a deep, rejuvenating sleep. And it won’t make you groggy in the morning. In fact, you’ll wake up feeling more alert and alive than ever, and feeling bright and energetic during the day. Get the sleep your body craves, with this amazing Ayurvedic formula, called PRASHAM. The nutrients are safe, natural and non-habit forming. Sleep like a baby again.


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About Shantiji

Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography

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