Brain waves & Yoga nidra – Paolo da Floresta

Brain waves

&

Yoga Nidra



It’s important to understand how your brain contributes to the state of your mind. While most of us focus on looking at our emotions in an attempt to become happier, more spiritual beings, our brains waves and our subconscious mind also play a key part in our quest for fulfillment.

We easily forget that we are the controllers of our reality – and that “our reality” is not made up of outside influences, but that it actually consists of our thoughts, beliefs and mindset.

Therefore, by learning about the deeper states of consciousness, you can open your subconscious mind and create your reality at will, and with precision. To do this, the first step is understanding your different brain frequencies. Did you know that we all have five (Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta and Gamma), and each frequency is measured in cycles per second (Hz) and has its own set of characteristics representing a specific level of brain activity and a unique state of consciousness?


One particular brain wave will be dominant depending on the state of consciousness that you are in.

For example, if you are awake, but have really bad ADHD, you may have more slow wave (alpha and/or theta) activity than beta waves. During sleep usually there are combinations of the slower frequencies, but even gamma has been found to be involved in rapid-eye movement (REM).


Gamma waves

These are involved in higher processing tasks as well as cognitive functioning. Gamma waves are important for learning, memory and information processing. It is thought that the 40 Hz gamma wave is important for the binding of our senses in regards to perception and are involved in learning new material. It has been found that individuals who are mentally challenged and have learning disabilities tend to have lower gamma activity than average.

  • Frequency range: 40 Hz to 100 Hz (Highest)
  • Too much: Anxiety, high arousal, stress
  • Too little: ADHD, depression, learning disabilities
  • Optimal: Binding senses, cognition, information processing, learning, perception, REM sleep
  • Increase gamma waves: Meditation

This range is the most recently discovered and is the fastest frequency at above 40Hz. While little is known about this state of mind, initial research shows Gamma waves are associated with bursts of insight and high-level information processing.


Beta waves

These are known as high frequency low amplitude brain waves that are commonly observed while we are awake. They are involved in conscious thought, logical thinking, and tend to have a stimulating affect. Having the right amount of beta waves allows us to focus and complete school or work-based tasks easily. Having too much beta may lead to us experiencing excessive stress and/or anxiety. The higher beta frequencies are associated with high levels of arousal. When you drink caffeine or have another stimulant, your beta activity will naturally increase. Think of these as being very fast brain waves that most people exhibit throughout the day in order to complete conscious tasks such as: critical thinking, writing, reading, and socialization.

  • Frequency range: 12 Hz to 40 Hz (High)
  • Too much: Adrenaline, anxiety, high arousal, inability to relax, stress
  • Too little: ADHD, daydreaming, depression, poor cognition
  • Optimal: Conscious focus, memory, problem solving
  • Increase beta waves: Coffee, energy drinks, various stimulants

While Beta brain waves are important for effective functioning throughout the day, they also can translate into stress, anxiety and restlessness.

The voice of Beta can be described as being that nagging little inner critic that gets louder the higher you go into range. Therefore, with a majority of adults operate at Beta; it’s little surprise that stress is today’s most common health problem.


Alpha waves

This frequency range bridges the gap between our conscious thinking and subconscious mind. In other words, alpha is the frequency range between beta and theta. It helps us calm down when necessary and promotes feelings of deep relaxation. If we become stressed, a phenomenon called “alpha blocking” may occur which involves excessive beta activity and very little alpha. Essentially the beta waves “block” out the production of alpha because we become too aroused.

  • Frequency range: 8 Hz to 12 Hz (Moderate)
  • Too much: Daydreaming, inability to focus, too relaxed
  • Too little: Anxiety, high stress, insomnia, OCD
  • Optimal: Relaxation
  • Increase alpha waves: Alcohol, marijuana, relaxants, some antidepressants

Alpha brain waves are present in deep relaxation and usually when the eyes are closed, when you’re slipping into a lovely daydream or during light meditation. It is an optimal time to program the mind for success and it also heightens your imagination, visualization, memory, learning and concentration.

It is the gateway to your subconscious mind and lies at the base of your conscious awareness. The voice of Alpha is your intuition, which becomes clearer and more profound the closer you get to 7.5Hz.


Theta waves

This particular frequency range is involved in daydreaming and sleep. Theta waves are connected to us experiencing and feeling deep and raw emotions. Too much theta activity may make people prone to bouts of depression and may make them “highly suggestible” based on the fact that they are in a deeply relaxed, semi-hypnotic state. Theta has its benefits of helping improve our intuition, creativity, and makes us feel more natural. It is also involved in restorative sleep. As long as theta isn’t produced in excess during our waking hours, it is a very helpful brain wave range.

  • Frequency range: 4 Hz to 8 Hz (Slow)
  • Too much: ADHD, depression, hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattentiveness
  • Too little: Anxiety, poor emotional awareness, stress
  • Optimal: Creativity, emotional connection, intuition, relaxation
  • Increase theta waves: Depressants

It is said that a sense of deep spiritual connection and unity with the universe can be experienced at Theta. Your mind’s most deep-seated programs are at Theta and it is where you experience vivid visualizations, great inspiration, profound creativity and exceptional insight. Unlike your other brain waves, the elusive voice of Theta is a silent voice.

It is at the Alpha-Theta border, from 7Hz to 8Hz, where the optimal range for visualization, mind programming and using the creative power of your mind begins. It’s the mental state which you consciously create your reality. At this frequency, you are conscious of your surroundings however your body is in deep relaxation.


Delta waves

These are the slowest recorded brain waves in human beings. They are found most often in infants as well as young children. As we age, we tend to produce less delta even during deep sleep. They are associated with the deepest levels of relaxation and restorative, healing sleep. They have also been found to be involved in unconscious bodily functions such as regulating heart beat and digestion. Adequate production of delta waves helps us feel completely rejuvenated after we wake up from a good night’s sleep. If there is abnormal delta activity, an individual may experience learning disabilities or have difficulties maintaining conscious awareness (such as in cases of brain injuries).

  • Frequency range: 0 Hz to 4 Hz (Slowest)
  • Too much: Brain injuries, learning problems, inability to think, severe ADHD
  • Too little: Inability to rejuvenate body, inability to revitalize the brain, poor sleep
  • Optimal: Immune system, natural healing, restorative / deep sleep
  • Increase delta waves: Depressants, sleep

Delta is the realm of your unconscious mind, and the gateway to the universal mind and the collective unconscious, where information received is otherwise unavailable at the conscious level.

Among many things, deep sleep is important for the healing process – as it’s linked with deep healing and regeneration. Hence, not having enough deep sleep is detrimental to your health in more ways than one.


Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is a unique marriage of science and spirit, combining alert awareness and deepest relaxation. It takes your brain to the alpha state and eventually the even deeper theta wave state. Here, without effort or strain, you are able to tap into your own source of intuition, creativity, health and abundance.

Yoga Nidra is practiced in a comfortable lying down position. You are guided through a series of breathing exercises and simple instructions. Some of these include visual imagery or a scan of the body, which occupies the mind and prevents it from becoming involved in the usual mind-chatter that absorbs our ordinary consciousness. Within a short time, you become submerged in the alpha state, where brain rhythms drop into the silent space within. Once your body is relaxed and your mind is calm, all energies are focused on the Third Eye, the inner sanctuary located between the eyebrows. Here you are simultaneously able to access both the logical left brain and the intuitive, insightful right brain. This naturally and effortlessly brings you into integration, where you experience deep relaxation yet remain aware and conscious.

Modern science now confirms what yogis discovered thousands of years ago: that focusing on the Third Eye reactivates hormones located in the pineal gland in center of the brain. Studies confirm that the pineal gland hormone, melatonin, is a powerful agent in helping prevent illness, retard premature aging, reduce stress, induce more restful sleep, boost the immune system, and promote healing. Research has proven the benefits of this technique on lowering stress and promoting overall health.


Stress is the biggest problem of modern life. We carry tensions both within the physical body and on even deeper levels in the subtle bodies which we are not even aware of. While physical tension can be eased by stretching, exercise or massage, subtle tensions are difficult to recognize and even harder to release. Yoga Nidra is a unique method that goes below surface tensions to release and transform stress at its deepest level.

Normal waking brain activity produces the faster, fragmented beta waves. The waking state also engages the sympathetic nervous system which reacts to stimulus and the secretion of adrenaline. Chronic engagement of this state forcing the right brain and parasympathetic nervous system to progressively become more dormant.

Yoga Nidra allows you to drop into a sleep-like state with relaxed brainwave activity. Slow alpha waves, and even slower theta waves, produce deep relaxation and are the entry points to the subconscious. In this state, you can make a conscious crossover from the logical left brain to the intuitive right brain, connected to the field of conscious pranic intelligence, where intention is carried out spontaneously and effortlessly.

One purpose of yoga and Yoga Nidra is to initiate the integrative process that balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and the left and right brain.


Yoga Nidra is also a wonderful remedy for anxiety and insomnia, when practiced just before sleep at night.


Guided Yoga Nidra for sleep     http://www.doyogawithme.com/content/yoga-nidra-sleep

Jennifer Piercy takes you through a beautifully designed Yoga Nidra for Sleep meditation. Her deeply calming voice penetrates into your very soul, instilling a sense of internal peace and leaving you feeling incredibly relaxed, present and rejuvenated.

Yoga Nidra for a good nights sleep    http://www.yoganidranetwork.org/mp3/yoga-nidra-good-night-sleep

Specially designed not to wake you up at the end, so you can continue to sleep after the practice. Has been developed through Nirlipta’s personal journey with insomnia.


 

Your Brain on Yoga Nidra

Learn what’s going on with your brain waves when you sink into a yoga nidra practice and why it leaves you feeling so refreshed.

Each time you practice yoga nidra meditation, you’re stilling the waves of the mind through conscious entry into the sleep state. How?

Yoga Nidra and Your Brain Waves

You start with sensing the body and breathing in specific ways in order to trigger the relaxation response. The relaxation response balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and balances the left and right brain. In the process, your brain shifts from beta, an awakened state with lots of brain activity, to alpha, a more relaxed state. In alpha, the mood-regulating hormone serotonin gets released, and this calms you down. People who spend little time in an alpha brain-wave state have more than those who spend more time in alpha. Think of a car: if you want to stop and turn off the engine, you first need to downshift. Shifting your brain into an alpha state starts its process of “powering down,” or coming into a rest state with slower, restorative brain-wave activity.

From alpha, you go into a deep alpha and high theta brain-wave state, the dream state, REM sleep. In theta, your thoughts slow down to 4 to 8 thoughts per second. This is where super learning happens. Kids and artists experience a lot more theta activity in their brains. Emotional integration and release also happen here, and structures in the brain change. It’s here that some people sometimes have random thoughts or see images. A person in theta may see colors or visions or hear the voice of a person talking yet at the same time not hear this voice. It’s where you being to enter the gap of nothingness.

After theta, you are guided to delta, where your thoughts are only 1 to 3.9 thoughts per second. This is the most state, in which your organs regenerate and the stress hormone cortisol is removed from your system.

When you’re put under anesthesia, you’re put into a delta brain-wave state. People in comas are also in a delta brain-wave state, which gives their bodies a chance to restore their systems. In our culture, very few people are going into the deep states of sleep like theta and delta on a regular basis, and as a consequence, our bodies are not powering down and getting the chance to restore themselves. Depressed people go to beta and alpha states, but rarely go to theta and delta.

See also Elena Brower’s 10-Minute Yoga Nidra to Alleviate Stress

The Fourth State of Consciousness You Can Access Through Yoga Nidra 

From delta, the guided yoga nidra experience takes you down into an even deeper brain-wave state—one that can’t be reached through conventional sleep. In this fourth state of consciousness, below delta, your brain is thoughtless. This state is sort of like a complete loss of consciousness, but you are awake. This state is one of such a deep surrender, where your consciousness is so far away from the physical body, that living here every day would be difficult. Not everyone who practices yoga nidra touches this state, but the more you practice, the more you’ll receive glimpses of it.

After you touch into the fourth state of consciousness, you are guided back to a waking state. Again, you couldn’t live in this fourth state, but as a result of touching into it, you bring a little of its peace back with you to your waking, everyday brain state. You also are able to rewire your thoughts and emotions because your subconscious mind in this fourth state is fertile, more open to intentions and affirmations, than it is when you are in your waking state. As a consequence, in your everyday life, you begin to rest more and more in the space between emotions and thoughts, and this resting in this space gives rise to a sense of freedom, where you are not triggered so much by the stuff in your life.

Plus, in yoga nidra meditation, you are often asked to bring your attention to the space between your eyebrows—a spot known as the third eye. Behind this spot lies the pineal gland, and this gland is stimulated when you bring your attention there. Studies confirm that the pineal-gland hormone, melatonin, is a powerful agent for reducing stress, inducing more restful sleep, and boosting the immune system, which helps prevent illness, promote healing, and slow premature aging.

See also Meditation Made Easier: Try Guided Yoga Nidra

The Benefits of Yoga Nidra

While yoga nidra is not a substitute for sleep, the number one reason most women I know say yes to yoga nidra is that it’s widely touted that 45 minutes of yogic sleep feels like 3 hours of regular sleep. There’s some debate over the science that backs this up, but it is likely this effect is due to the series of brain-wave changes experienced during yoga nidra. In my work, I hear women tell me all the time that they wake up deeply refreshed after practicing yoga nidra and that yoga nidra helps them fall asleep and get back to sleep at night. Who can say no to sleep?

As you can imagine, feeling well rested is life changing, but yoga nidra also improves your overall health. A 2013 study showed that practicing yoga nidra improved anxiety, depression, and overall well-being for women experiencing menstrual irregularities and psychological problems. I’ve worked with many women who have had tremendous success using yoga nidra to help them manage pre- and post-surgical operations and decrease pain. And even more science points to how yoga nidra can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and improve blood glucose fluctuations and symptoms associated with diabetes.

The explosion of studies supporting the benefits of meditation also apply to yoga nidra, because yoga nidra is a form of meditation. Both meditation and yoga nidra help activate the relaxation response and improve the functioning of your nervous system and endocrine system, which affects your hormones. Both meditation and yoga nidra help cells regenerate and repair, and both help decrease anxiety and improve your mood.

Women tell me all the time how practicing yoga nidra meditation has positively impacted their family life. One mother who was checked out of her life due to exhaustion now practices yoga nidra and says that she is using more loving speech to herself, her children and her spouse, and parenting from a more peaceful place. In general, another woman who felt imprisoned by her anxiety tells me she is now able to lead a full life with her family from a calm place. It’s clear to me that women get their family and freedom back when they practice yoga nidra regularly.

See also Discover the Peaceful Practice of Yoga Nidra

Excerpted from DARING TO REST: Reclaim Your Power with Yoga Nidra Rest Meditation by Karen Brody. Sounds True, November 2017. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author
Karen Brody is a speaker and the founder of Daringtorest.com, a company offering yoga nidra meditation for the modern women via downloadable products and trainings. Karen had a long personal history of severe panic attacks until she found yoga nidra meditation over a decade ago. At that time, she was a sleep-deprived mother of two small children on anti-anxiety medication. She signed up for a yoga nidra meditation class simply looking to lie down for a nap. What she got was “the best nap of her life.” As she continued to practice yoga nidra regularly, her deep fatigue lifted; she wrote a critically acclaimed play, got off anti-anxiety pills, and started to teach this yoga nidra “power nap” to every exhausted mother she knew.