Just thinking about the proven health and creativity benefits of napping at work have us longing for a midday siesta. Afternoon naps are good for you, having been shown to boost memory and cognitive skills, lower your heart rate and increase energy levels. But just because sneaking in a few winks is amazingly beneficial for us doesn’t exactly mean it’s a good look to be konked out at our desks when the three o’clock slump hits. Even if you do have the flexibility to take a time out, it can be awfully hard to get some quality shut-eye with the hum of a to-do list buzzing in your ear. Enter Yoga Nidra: a relaxation meditation that’s the equivalent of getting many hours of sleep while still being awake.
The ancient practice of Yoga Nidra, also known as “yoga sleep” and “psychic sleep,” lulls your brain into a deeply relaxed state through a set of breathing exercises and simple instructions involving visual imagery and body scans. The technique aims to bring you into the present (similar to mindfulness) by occupying the brain and preventing mind chatter. Silencing our often over-stimulating, heightened state of alertness is the quickest way to deep relaxation, rejuvenation and mental integration, much like you would get with a nap.
Yoga Nidra is best practiced lying down, but if you’re at work or in the library, a comfy chair can work too, as long as your body is fully supported. A teacher will guide you through the practice, asking you to identify different sensations in the body and to focus on your breath, gradually submerging into a calm state where your silent inner-world emerges (aka your subconscious). Studies have found that the relaxed brain state you get from practicing mindfulness, meditation or Yoga Nidra causes the nervous system to calm and stress hormones to diminish.
Even if you’re short on time, practicing Yoga Nidra for as little as five minutes will give you benefits on par with your beloved afternoon cat nap. All you need to start is a set of headphones and a guided audio clip. Check out these five, eight and 25-minute yoga sleep options. So next time 3pm hits, and you’re having trouble seeing through your mental fog, a recharge could be as easy as slipping in your earbuds and slowing down your brain waves.
Will you try out Yoga Nidra next time you’re craving a nap but can’t take one? Tell us on Twitter @BritandCo!
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