Why Yoga Nidra Meditation Is Great For Healing Trauma



(Please do not start a yoga or meditation practice without first consulting with your doctor or therapist if you have experienced trauma).


I’ve been teaching yoga nidra meditation for years and it’s been one of the most transformative practices I share with my clients. I discovered the wonders of this practice on my own healing journey of CPTSD stemming from childhood trauma and emotionally inept parents. It's now my mission to share this practice and its gentle yet powerful healing benefits to the world so that we can all heal and find happiness. But why is it so good for healing?


We are now understanding that the root cause of most illness comes from the suppression of negative emotions and trauma. Western medicine is now catching-up with the umbrella term 'psychosomatic illness.' But this is something that yogis have known for a long time.

Emotional stress is a major cause of physical illness, from cancer to autoimmune conditions and many other chronic diseases. The brain and body systems that process emotions are intimately connected with the hormonal apparatus, the nervous system, and in particular the immune system. Dr Gabor Mate, Author of When The Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress


I don’t believe we have a sick society. I believe we have an emotionally suppressed and traumatised society. (Davina)

So how do we use the ancient tools that link mind and body through the science of yoga to heal… well we first need to start with everything that we have suppressed and denied. However, the mind is tricky, sometimes we don’t even know why we are the way we are. If something happened in childhood before we have memory or a way to process it then we’re literally working with no clues. Even as we grow older, the mind suppresses memories that it’s unable to process either because it wasn’t safe to do it at the time or because it would overwhelm our body and nervous system too much if we were to feel it.


During trauma the brainstem and limbic system become overwhelmed, and the ‘emotions, sounds, images, thoughts, and physical sensations related to the trauma take a life of their own.”

(Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score)


So whenever we come up against similar content to the trauma we experienced, we keep having a reaction or trigger that sends the body into overdrive because we think we’re under the same stress. A simple example of this is a veteran who reacts to fireworks the same way he would react to an explosion. Logically, he knows he’s at home with his family celebrating New Year but the noise of the fireworks doesn’t even hit his conscious logical mind before his reaction as the limbic system is built to override that in an emergency.


It’s like being imprisoned psychologically in the past event.

The body is constantly in fight or flight mode, releasing chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline making it very difficult to relax ever. The outside world feels like a dangerous place all the time. It’s only by beginning to create a healthier connection with your internal world of feelings, sensations and emotions that you can begin to take control over the body and mind.


“Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past”

(Van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps The Score).


If you're interested in working with me please reach out for 1-1 integration sessions or join the next course The Essential Course On Meditation for Mental Health and Well-being.

So How Does Yoga Nidra Meditation Work? The Science


Yoga nidra assists us in moving away from the external world into our internal world. This can be scary for some people because there are so many difficult feelings, sensations and emotions inside that they don’t want to feel. As a certified iRest® yoga nidra meditation teacher, we follow a protocol which helps get over this first hurdle through the tool ‘the inner resource.’ I like to invite my clients to make their internal world a safe and inviting place using their imagination or a past memory of feeling safe first.


Science now shows why Yoga Nidra is such a powerful practice! Using EEG machines which measure brainwaves, Yoga Nidra practitioners move from waking beta brain wave state to theta and even delta brain wave state. The progressive sequential sequence of yoga nidra meditation helps to relax the body through a body scan and breathing withdrawing from the external world to the conscious and subconscious minds. Yoga Nidra literally quietens down the frequency of our thoughts which we can think of as brainwaves. Stage 1 - Beta To Alpha When we are in beta brainwave state, we are fully identified with our external world, our to do lists, emails and work etc. Most of us spend the majority of our days in this state unless we are in creative industries such as painting or art in which case you would be in alpha state. When you close your eyes and begin to move from the external world to the internal world, you move into alpha brainwave state and your nervous system begins to relax and you open up to the feelings and sensations in the body. It's in this stage that we do a body scan to fully relax the body. Stage 2 Alpha Stage During this stage your body is completely relaxed, but you're still somewhat alert. This relaxed Awareness makes you feel good - it produces serotonin and heart coherence. You may start to have more creative thoughts or ideas. Stage 3 Alpha To Theta Stage After about 20 minutes the brain really begins to slowdown and enters into a theta brainwave state which is the similar to the brainwaves of REM sleep at night. The difference being that you are actually awake during this stage unlike sleep where you are not conscious! It's kind of like you're day dreaming... there's a screen in front of your mind and you might be visiting past memories or dream-like scenes flash in front of your eyes. It’s during this stage, that we can begin to integrate some of our past memories, experiences without overwhelming the nervous system. You’re fully aware and in control yet you don't feel as identified with the experiences you are having. If you are experiencing something negative it’s like you are simply watching it on a screen with open non-judgemental Awareness. This is very healing for the mind as past memories and events can be processed without the emotional charge of stress or anxiety that you would have if you were in beta brainwave stage. Stage 4 Theta To Delta Stage At a much deeper level is delta brainwave state which is the most restorative state we can enter, in fact, doctors induce this state when they put patients into a coma after a brain injury so that the brain and body can heal itself! This is the equivalent of deep dreamless sleep at night with the difference in Yoga Nidra meditation being that you are aware. During this stage of the Yoga Nidra meditation we welcome gratitude or do a loving-kindness practice, anything related to the heart and joy which help to stimulate the neurotransmitter Anandamide, the “bliss molecule,” which incidentally gets its name from the Sanskrit word 'ananda' meaning bliss or joy.


Conclusion


As you can see yoga nidra meditation is a highly effective tool to work with suppressed feelings, sensations, emotions and trauma in the body in a safe way. We don’t need to force the past memories that are triggering or upsetting into our conscious mind, we simply allow the mind and body to rest and by doing so what needs to be integrated is given the space to arise without our mind flipping out!


I’ve seen many mini-miracles with yoga nidra meditation in my clients. They have changed their business plans saving millions of dollars, over-come trauma, divorce, grief, quit smoking, left toxic jobs and improved their mental health and well-being.



If you're interested in working with me please reach out for 1-1 integration sessions or join the next course The Essential Course On Meditation for Mental Health and Well-being.



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