How Yoga Nidra can help your teenager through exam stress
Yoga Nidra is a wonderful yoga practice that not only supports a deep relaxation and rejuvenation, but yoga nidra can also help with improving memory - great for revision or learning of any kind.
At this time of year many of you will be supporting teenagers through their exams. Not an easy task for them or for you. Yoga nidra may be a great practice to introduce to your teen.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra means Yoga of Sleep. The teacher guides you through the practice and all you need to do is lie down in a comfortable position and listen. The practice is deeply relaxing, you remain awake throughout, although it is not uncommon to fall asleep if your body needs it! Practices vary in length but are often 20-30 minutes long.
Scientifically, during yoga nidra we travel through different brainwave frequencies and states of consciousness as we do through regular sleep. But we travel through consciously, not just experiencing but also witnessing.
When we reach the Theta and Alpha-Theta brainwaves indicative of REM sleep (our deepest sleep) we enhance creativity, emotional memory, perceptual and sensory processing and movement of memory from short to long term. In regular sleep this us where we dream, where the brain is processing experience. This includes the things we are learning.
Whilst taking a break from revising to 'relax' through yoga nidra may feel like time wasted for some students, it can help consolidate recent learning and in addition it really can re-energise and rebalance the body especially if stress and sleep loss is an issue.
You can find an array of styles and practices to address all sorts of issues, including improving memory, improving sleep, as therapy for stress and even PTSD (see specifically https://www.irest.org/ ).
How to practice:
1. Find a yoga nidra recording to try - links to free nidras below.
2. Find yourself a comfortable position lying down - if you do this on a bed you are more likely to fall asleep - on the floor with blankets and cushions or yoga props is best if you don't want to fall asleep.
3. Keep the room dimmed or use an eye pillow, scarf or similar to shut out light gently.
4. Hit play and enjoy the practice.
A hint if you are tired and think you may fall asleep is to set a gentle alarm for 5 minutes after the practice ends just in case!
Where to find nidras:
Here are links to free online yoga nidras to try for yourself or pass on to your teenager, find the ones you like and enjoy listening to - it's all about personal preference:
Yoga Nidra Network www.yoganidranetwork.org
Sanctary app https://www.parayoga.com/sanctuary-meditation-app/
Yoga for you online https://www.yogaforyouonline.com/podcast
Insight Timer app https://insighttimer.com/
In addition, meditation practice can take you to a similar state of deep rest. There are specific meditations for teenagers and exam stress at:
Smiling mind https://www.smilingmind.com.au/
With thanks to Uma and Nirlipta Dinsmore Tuli and the Yoga Nidra Network