Dr Ishwar V. Basavaraddi
In the race to lead our overly busy lives, we often forget that there is a life to live. The hectic schedules of busy lives and the stress accumulated by it make us prone to diseases and less concerned about taking deep rests to keep healthy.
Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, in lieu to it’s November initiative ‘Yoga Nidra’ for promotion of immunity, organised a weekly webinar on the topic, “Keep Healthy: Deep Rest and Strong Immunity For Busy Lives,” presided over by Dr Ishwar V. Basavaraddi, Director, MDNIY, Taiyab Alam, Communication and Documentation Officer along with other members of the institute as panellists.
The Guest speaker of the evening, Dr Kamini Desai, PhD. Executive Director, Amrit Yoga Institute, Florida, USA gave an extensive lecture on the topic with a thoroughly invigorating session of “Yoga Nidra practice” during the webinar. Dr Kamini is the Education Director and Core Curriculum Developer of the Amrit Yoga Institute and one of three Founding Directors of the International University of Yoga and Ayurveda with Dr Vijay K Jain, MD and Dr Shekhar Annambhotla. She has authored the book, “Yoga Nidra: The Art of Transformational Sleep” and hence, is also considered an expert in the inner sciences of yoga, relaxation and artful living.
The webinar commenced with an introductory session by Dr Basavaraddi who enunciated the Ministry of Ayush’s initiative to promote Yoga on different social media platforms in the context of – Ahar, Vihar and Nidra – three principles that are strong immunity boosters that bring about healthy lifestyle changes. Director MDNIY gave a brief about November months’ drive “Nidra” and how the institution is organising various Yoga sessions and events to promote Yoga Nidra in general and “Immunity development” in particular.
Yoga Nidra, he said, “is a sleep-based meditation technique that supercharges immunity, reverses stress, maximizes the restorative effects of sleep and optimizes your ability to stay healthy. 45 minutes of Yoga Nidra is said to be as restorative as three hours of sleep and is Ideal for balancing our increasingly fast pace of life.” Yoga Nidra boosts not only your physical immunity but immunity to stress, anxiety and depression.
Dr Kamini Desai began her lecture by taking further Dr Basavaradi’s introduction of Yoga Nidra and gave us an understanding of what it actually entails. She refers to Yoga Nidra as “a powerful meditation technique. It is meditation made easy as this practice is based on something that our body is already tuned to -which is – falling asleep.”
She gave a historical perspective of ancient Yogis that every night as we fall asleep we go deeper through the brain waves – our thoughts move away from us, and in this procedure, one naturally enters into a gap between – the person and their thought processes which is called the Twilight Zone. However, that gap doesn’t come easy to everyone as many face difficulty falling asleep.
Yoga Nidra follows the same pattern of brain waves but rather than falling asleep, here, we take deep rest in the twilight zone wherein meditation happens naturally. Dr Kamini iterates that “Yoga Nidra is a kind of meditation which is based entirely on the biology of our body and sleep. The only thing one needs to do during Yoga Nidra is not to fall asleep and even if one does there are plenty of restorative benefits that the body gathers.”
Stress and Tension
She further puts special emphasis on “Stress” in this lecture which is one of the root problems that emerge out of our extremely hectic lifestyles. A person builds up certain ‘internal’ and ‘external’ pressures from their busy life schedules. The pressure of measuring up with our peers, feeling responsible for the care of our loved one’s constitute internal pressures. Whereas the environmental or surrounding pressures like the current state of pandemic build up external pressures. All these combined together put heavy stress on our body.
“Tension is not a bad thing as our body works when we tense our muscles.” The problem arises when an individual builds up this pressure day by day without balancing it with the amount of sleep that our body needs. This generates a backlog of excessive unreleased tension propelling various stress symptoms like – headache, back pains, sleep, and psycho-social problems.
Dr Kamini quotes that, ‘almost 80% of doctor visits in the United States is stress-related.’
Our bodies are built to be under the highest amount of stress for not more than 60-90 seconds at a time. But we have somehow learned to live in high levels of stress for much longer minutes. This ultimately turns the ‘Temporary State of Stress’ into a ‘Chronic’ one which directly affects the important functions of our body like the Digestion, Reproduction, Blood Flow, causes dilated pupils and irregularities in heart rate.
The Chronic State of Stress weakens our immune system leaving us vulnerable to allergies and auto-immune diseases. The main culprit of chronic stress is “Cortisol” – a stress hormone released when we are under a lot of pressure. At first, it actually makes brings strength to the body, but over time this hormone leaves us vulnerable to viruses, flu, diseases and inflammation-related issues.
If a person were to address these symptomatic issues individually – headaches, sleep disorders, digestive irregularities, fertility and recession of immunity, it would take a lifetime. But by addressing the root cause of all these symptoms – stress, we can tackle all these issues simultaneously – which is what we do Yoga Nidra.
This was followed by a Yoga Nidra session conducted by Dr Kamini herself wherein she recapitulated its benefits so that one can keep their body strong, mind at peace, and make the body resilient enough to fight dress, diseases and pressures of life.
The Interactive Session
The webinar came to its conclusion with an interactive session between the guest speaker and panellists. Dr Basavaraddi asked, “How can we differentiate between the western techniques of relaxation in comparison to Yoga Nidra?” to which Dr Kamini said that ‘she would be a little biased in answering this question as she believes that ‘Yoga Nidra is original while everything else is the copy of that, pulling onto many inherent techniques.’ The big difference, she says, is that “many of these techniques stop at relaxation and release the accumulation of tension in the body but don’t actually teach how to be more aware and observant to prevent re-accumulation of tension.”
Dr Kamini concluded by saying that, “Yoga Nidra sits in a much larger spiritual context that quiets the mind to notice the silent backdrop and awareness that is beyond the regular consciousness. This is not necessarily common in the west. Therefore, I believe the true purpose of relaxation is realized through Yoga Nidra.”
WATCH: Webinar on – Keep Healthy: Deep Rest and Strong Immunity For Busy Lives: