Visit Extremadura, Spain’s Best Kept Secret

Visit Extremadura, Spain’s Best Kept Secret

A Road Less Travelled

Occupying the south western corner of the central Iberian plateau, Extremadura, the place beyond the Duero river, is a land of great natural beauty and cultural richness, a place of contrasts – and also extremes!

A land of snow-capped mountains, ancient forests, and open plains, copiously watered with the lakes and tributaries of two of Spain’s major rivers, The Tagus and Guadiana, Extremadura boasts some of the country’s most pristine natural landscapes

No less remarkable is Extremadura’s mark on Spanish history, stretching back millennia, with an abundant artistic and architectural legacy bearing witness to waves of Roman, Visigoth, Muslim, Jewish and Christian settlement

It’s no wonder, then, that after a glorious week of yoga so many of our visitors find themselves wanting to stay a few more days to explore Extremadura. Not that Trujillo isn’t bursting with cultural and natural treasures. And if you’ve joined us for yoga and walking, you’ll have experienced Extremadura’s wild side. It’s just there’s so much to enjoy in Extremadura!

For those of you able to make that extra time, or if you’re visiting Extremadura independently, this article will guide you through some of the best experiences Extremadura has to offer. We share our best recommendations combined with local knowledge to help you enjoy the best time on your visit to this magical corner of Spain

Journey Through Extremadura’s Cultural And Natural Heritage

Discover the rich cultural tapestry of Extremadura’s golden triangle in the UNESCO World Heritage cities of Mérida, with its ancient Roman ensemble, the monumental City Of Cáceres and the Great Basilica and Royal Monastery of the mountain shrine of Guadalupe

Explore the pristine natural landscapes and rich wildlife of Extremadura’s National parks: from the soaring cliffs, meandering rivers, and lush forests of Monfragüe Biosphere Reserve, to the rugged mountain landscapes of Villuercas-Ibores-Jara Geopark, symbol of sustainable tourism

And indulge in a plethora of festivals, traditional arts and crafts and gastronomic delights, from the world-famous acorn-fed Jamón Ibérico to the delectable Torta del Casar cheese

Uncover a world of cultural and natural treasures in Extremadura, a destination that promises you an unforgettable encounter with the many colours of bygone and contemporary Spain

Cultural Heritage


roman amphitheatre, mérida, extremadura spain

Capital of the Roman province of Lusitania, which in its day encompassed modern day Extremadura and much of Portugal, ancient Augusta Emérita retains its power base as the seat of government of the Autonomous Community Of Extremadura

A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993, Mérida’s archeological treasures include a Roman theatre and amphitheatre, a large circus, an extensive water supply system including an aqueduct, and a still intact bridge spanning the Guadiana river. Wandering through the City’s streets you will suddenly chance upon the many temples and shrines dedicated to the gods and goddesses of ancient Rome

If meandering through the ancient sites to marvel at their beauty and soak in their atmosphere is not enough, you can learn more about the history of Roman Spain in Merida’s National Museum Of Roman Art. Or take in a show at the city’s annual summer festival of classical theatre staged in the old Roman theatre

There And Back Again

AvanzaBus runs regular bus services from the Spanish Yoga Retreat’s base in Trujillo to Badajoz, stopping at Mérida

Vegetarian Mérida

veggie restaurant merida, extremadura, spain

Veggie food is not so easy to come by in Spain, so if you adhere to a plant-based diet you’ll be pleased to hear that Mérida has a fully fledged and quite excellent vegetarian restaurant, the

Shangri La, Calle Sagasta, 21, 06800 Mérida
Tel +34636752837


old caceres extremadura spain

Just 46km (28.6 miles) due west of Trujillo is the provincial capital Cáceres, Extremadura’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From Plaza Mayor pass through the the 18th-century Arco de la Estrella into the old medieval city, with its narrow streets filled with churches, palaces, mansions and fortified towers spanning and array of architectural styles from Romanesque to Islamic, Gothic, and Renaissance 

The City’s Moorish walls also contain the second largest water cistern in the world

Nearby, the Fundación Helga De Alvear (Calle Pizarro, 8) is Cáceres modern art museum, housing an excellent collection of works from Picasso to Ai Weiwei


Avanzabus run regular daily services from Trujillo to Cáceres central bus station

Barruecos Regional Park And Vostel Museum

11km west of Cáceres city is the Barruecos natural park, an area of fantastically shaped granite boulders surrounding a series of lakes, ancient man-made acquafers attracting a wealth of wildlife. The park is a great site for walkers, with well marked circular trails where you can enjoy the rugged beauty of the great rocky structures reflected in the park’s still waters

Within the park, the Vostell museum houses works by the German artist Wolf Vostell and other artists linked with the Fluxus movement

There is an excellent restaurant with a bar serving lunch and dinner:
Restaurant Museo Vostell
Carretera de los Barruecos, s/n, 10910 Malpartida de Cáceres
Tel +34 927 01 08 12


real monasterio guadalupe caceres spain

Nestled in one of the least accessible parts of Extremadura, deep in the mountainous terrain of the Villuercas-Ibores-jara geopark, the exquisitely picturesque village of Guadalupe is dominated by the Real Monasterio and great Basilica dedicated to Our Lady Of Guadalupe

The Real Monasterio houses important works from Spanish masters, including Velazquez, El Greco and Zurbarán, often dubbed the Caravaggio of Extremadura

A multitude of devotees congregates every year in September, walking on their knees to pay homage to Our Lady Of Guadalupe, patron saint of Extremadura, and crowned queen of the Spanish speaking world in 1928

The appearance of Guadalupe in the guise of an indigenous Mexican woman to the peasant Juan Diego in mount Tepeyac, Mexico city, echoes the vital historical and cultural connection between Extremadura and Latin America

Getting There

Despite its World Heritage Status, Guadalupe is poorly served by public transport, with one single daily bus service from Cáceres, stopping at Trujillo. Unfortunately the return bus leaves before the outward bus arrives, making an overnight stay obligatory

Nevertheless, Guadalupe is a must-see. Most of our people share a hire car or taxi (currently around €80-90 one way) for the 93km drive to this pilgrimage at the end of the world

Other Places Of Cultural Interest

Cradle Of Explorers And Conquistadors

History buffs may want to learn more about the impact of Extremadura in the founding of modern-day Latin America. Known as the cradle of conquistadors, Extremadura is also cradle to explorers and other men of relative peace. Though the origins of the individual characters span the region, two places stand out:

sunrise in Trujillo, Extremadura Spain


Founded by the Romans on Celtic settlements, and continuously inhabited for more than two thousand years, Turgalium reached its ascendancy as Torgielo under Muslim rule

Boasting Spain’s most beautiful town square and an old medieval walled city crowned by the city’s 9th century Moorish caste, Trujillo was the birth place of Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of the Inca and founder of Lima, Peru, as well as Francisco Orellana, first European explorer of the Amazon and others

Home of the Spanish Yoga Retreat, you can read more about Trujillo here


Also of Roman origin, the town of Medellín in Badajoz provice is the birthplace of another notorious figure, Hernán Cortés, conqueror of the Aztec empire of Mexico

Despite the ravages of time and wars, Medellin preserves a worthy architectural ensemble, notably a Roman theatre, medieval castle, and a 17th century bridge over the Guadiana river. A Centro De Interpretación details the area’s historical and geographical features

Exploring Spain’s Natural Paradise

Monfragüe Biosphere Reserve

monfrague walking retreat

This most natural paradise, covering 18,000 hectares of towering cliffs and pristine lichen-drenched forests straddling the rivers Tagus and Tiétar offers you nature at its most pristine

Named Mons Fragorum, the fragrant mount, by the Romans, Monfragüe is a haven for birds and bird-watchers alike. In addition to the 340 species, including the black stork, settling here in each yearly cycle, the park is home to permanent colonies of black Egyptian vultures and Spanish imperial eagles. Deer and wild boar abound, while the more elusive Iberian lynx is more likely to spot you than you it

Numerous well marked hiking trails take you through the park’s visual splendours. Monfragüe is a favourite location for our yoga and walking retreats, our walks taking us from the Fuente Del Francés up to Monfragüe castle for aerial views of the park. You won’t need binoculars to see the resident black vultures hovering at eye level, but they’ll help you spot the less conspicuous smaller creatures which fill the park

The park’s main setting off point, Villareal De San Carlos, offers rural accommodation in traditional bungalows as well as two bar-restaurants and an information centre 

Getting There

If you’re not joining us for yoga and walking, Emiz runs buses from Trujillo to Plasencia stopping at Villareal De San Carlos on Mondays and Fridays

Villuercas-Ibores-Jara Geopark

extremadura - location for yoga and wellness retreat Spain

Contiguous with Monfragüe and right on Trujillo’s doorstep is the mountainous region of Villuercas-Ibores-Jara. Designated geo-park by UNESCO in 2011 the park is a symbol of sustainable tourism

Geologically once part of the American Apalachians, and now continuous with the Toledo range, the park’s physical pinnacle, the 1601m Risco De La Villuerca offers views of the peaks and valleys of this achingly beautiful region

Dotted with remote ancient villages that time forgot, this is a very sparely populated and traditional area. It may come as a bit of a surprise, therefore, to find the Swiss-run restaurant Algo Así (something like that)

A Unique Dining Experience At Algo Así

Set in lovely countryside just outside Cañamero, Algo Así serve a set menu, expertly prepared essentially from home and locally produced fare. Plant based options are available with prior notice. Pre-booking at least 24 hours before is essential

Getting There

Like Guadalupe itself, the park has little in the way of public transport. However, roads are good and car hire firms plentiful

Walking The Ruta Isabel La Católica

A novel way of exploring the Villuercas is with Trujillo’s local ramblers group, Trujillo En Marcha, who organize a yearly trecking pilgrimage in September through the geopark

The route follows the old Ruta Isabel La Católica joining Cañamero to Guadalupe. It’s a three stage event, each stage a week apart and covering around one third of the trajectory, with a return to Trujillo by privately hired bus. You can join all or any of the stages individually

The final stage is set to coincide with  Guadalupe’s yearly homage to its patron saint. The most faithful arrive on their knees. You may be forgiven for finishing the route on foot 

Other Outdoor Activities


yoga and walking holidays in spain
If you enjoy total immersion in wild, natural landscapes with a minimum of people and an abundance of nature you’ve come to the right place. From high mountain passes with breathtaking views, to meandering rivers, ancient forests and traditional villages that time forgot, Extremadura’s walking trails have something for everyone, from the gentle stroller to the most experience rambler

Areas especially popular with walkers include

– The Northern valleys around Sierra De Tormantos, including Jerte, Spain’s cherry orchard, with its spectacular display of cherry blossom in the spring, and La Vera, home to Spain’s smoked pimentón (paprika). Both valleys are home to numerous gargantas, mountain springs such Los Pilones and Garganta La Olla (see fresh-water swimming below) and endless others

– Sierra De Gata and Las Hurdes: Extremadura at its most rustic and traditional

Monfragüe and Villuercas-Ibores-Jara National parks (see above)

– Extremadura also constitues part of the so-called Southern Camino to the Sanctuary of Santiago De compostela. Less well known among the pilgrim community, this is an ideal route if you who enjoy tranquility, nature and solitary landscapes

The route joins Huelva, in Andalucia, with Zafra in southern Extremadura. Here it joins the Via De La Plata (Silver Way), an ancient Roman road transporting silver from the northern mines to the southern port of Seville

– An alternative third pilgrims’ way has recently received some attention. Another historical Roman road, the Via De La Estrella (Starry Way) stretches west from Cáceres city via Alcántara to Segura on the Spanish-Portuguese border, within the International Tagus Biosphere Reserve. From here the Portuguese Via da Estrela takes the walker through Braga before crossing back into Spain for the final stretch to Santiago

For independent walking in Extremadura check WikiLoc, a website full of routes worldwide compiled by the people who’ve walked the walk

Bird Watching

real monasterio guadalupe caceres spain

If birdwatching is your passion, Extremadura is a dream: from the Spanish imperial eagle to the colorful European bee-eater, Extremadura’s skies are filled with a symphony of wings

Known international for its incredible bird diversity, Extremadura is an ideal birdwatching destination, attracting bird enthusiasts from around the world

Trujillo-based Martin Kelsey and colleagues organize scheduled and bespoke birding holidays and guided tours. Check them out at Birding Extremadura

Freshwater Swimming

Watered by the melting snows of the high sierras and the great arterial trees of two of Spain’s principal rivers, the Tagus and Guadiana, Exremadura contains as many as 175 bodies of water, large and small, and boasts the longest stretch of freshwater beach in all of Spain

From the cascading gargantas and natural bathing pools of the sierras of La Vera and Jerte in Cáceres province, to the spa waters of Alange and the popular beach resort of the Orellana reservoir in Badajoz, Extremadura offers the visitor a thousand and one ways to lie back and stay cool

Among our favourites are

1. Los Pilones

real monasterio guadalupe caceres spain

Centures ago, boulders carried by snow melts from the high mountains to the Jerte Valley below became lodged, the action of water eroding the granite into a series of basin-like shapes. These are Los Pilones. Translating in English as fountain or drinking pool, Los Pilones is one of Extremadura’s best loved bathing spots

Access to Los Pilones is on foot, starting from the Centro De Interpretación at the Garganta Nature Reserve along a forested path with wonderous views of the towering sierra and valleys below

Garganta La Olla

South of Jerte, on the thickly forested slopes of La Vera, Garganta La Olla rushes over the edge of the picturesque village of the same name. Towering mountains and beautiful gorges form the backdrop to deep pools, thundering waterfalls and natural sunbathing areas on the garganta’s rocky plateaus

Nearby is the beautiful Monaterio De Yuste, where King Charles I of Spain spent much time convalescing from the consequences of his lavish lifestyle. A few metres further along the same road is the exquisitely picturesque village of Cuacos De Yuste, one of the areas most traditional and best preserved

Playa De Orellana

Bordering the vast Orellana reservoir, one of Extremadura’s largest, Orellana beach on the inland Costa Alegre (Happy Coast) offers the visitor all the attractions associated with a large body of water: sailing, wind surfing, canoeing, fishing and even swimming

Designated special protection area (English: SPAs) the reservoir and neighbouring Sierra De Pela are considered a wetland of international importance, particularly for bird-life, with various species of eagles and vultures as well as the Black stork, Natterjack toad and species of otters, badgers and more

Getting There

There are no direct public transport connections from Trujillo. Los Pilones And Garganta La Olla can be accessed by bus from Plasencia and Navalmoral De La Mata. Merida has bus services to the village of Orellana la Vieja for access to Orellana beach

Sky Watching

Astrotourism is fast becoming popular in Extremadura, its lack of human light-pollution and relatively dry and unpolluted atmosphere providing the dark skies ideal for star-gazing

A number of groups running sky-watching experiences with both the naked eye and robotic telescopes from places including Mérida, Cáceres, Cañamero, Plasencia and hre in Trujillo. Check out Stargazing Extremadura for info

Festivals Everywhere

As everywhere in Spain Extremadura is awash with festivals. Local festivals like the annual summer feria celebrated in every village in Spain and special homages to the local patron saint, regional festivals like Extremadura day, national festivals like Easter, of course, and just festival festivals like Cáceres’ World Of Music Art And Dance (WOMAD), Badajoz’s vibrant February carnival and Trujillo’s National Cheese And Wine Fair

Since any half decent account of Extremadura’s festivals would fill a book, we’ll list our top three, just stopping to mention some of Extremadura’s querkier festivals you might like to enjoy

1. Trujillo’s Chíviri

Easter week in Spain is among the most celebrated, with sombre, though extravagant processions followed by all night parties

Trujillo’s Easter Sunday celebration is particularly gay, as the town celebrates the end of lent and start of spring with a colourful street party with locals, dressed in shepherd and shepherdess costume, dance to endless versions of a not-so-old song entitled Chíviri

Folk heresay has it that centuries past only the nobility could consume flesh during the 40 days of lent, paying the church a special levy to mediate with the divine presence. Thus, the end of lent was celebrated with the slaughter of lambs brought to the town square by shepherds, to be spit roasted and shared among all

No lambs are slaughtered nowadays. But the eating, drinking and dancing continues every Easter for day and a night

2. National Cheese And Wine Fair

Trujillo also hosts this annual festival in May, when the town square is filled with the whiff of cheeses from all over Extremadura, Spain, and a selection of guest countries

Extremadura has a remarkably rich variety of top brass cheeses, most made from ewe’s or goat’s milk using a traditional vegetable rennet extracted from local thistles. Apart from the famous DOPs (protected origin) Torta Del Casar, and Torta De La Serena, the fair offers a huge array of national and international hard and soft cheeses to enjoy with a glass – or two –  of wine

The Trujillo-based Finca Pascualte’s retorta had long a personal favourite of ours when it won the best Spanish cheese award 2017-8 in the UK’s World Cheese festival in Birmingham

3. WOMAD Cáceres

This festival of world music, art and dance, founded by peter Gabriel and colleagues in 1980, is celebrated in the city of Caceres in May following Trujillo’s cheese and wine fair. WOMAD Cáceres as a free bash, the big acts in the main square attended by smaller events in the plazas and historical buildings in and around the the old city

The central Paseo De Canovas turns to colourful marketplace full of arts and crafts as the smell of food and the sound of music pervades the city air

Other Quirky Festivals

jarramplas festival, Piornal extremadura spain

The Turnip Festival Of Jarramplás, celebrated in Extremadura’s highest town of Piornal in the northern Sierra De Tormantos, is designated festival of national and international interest

Tradition has it that a Jarrampla (thief) came Piornal to steal the residents’ animals but hadn’t betted on the fierce response he got from local people, who pelted him with turnips to chase him off.  Every January some young person has the honour of running through Piornal’s streets dressed as Jarramplás while being showered with a couple of tons of turnips as punishment

Not all turnips go to waste, as the town also enjoys them in local dishes during the festival

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Yoga Nidra: 10 Ways To Boost Your Physical And Mental Health

Yoga Nidra: 10 Ways To Boost Your Physical And Mental Health


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Yoga Nidra Benefits: Unlock the Power of Deep Relaxation

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Too often you find yourself constantly on the go, keeping up with the demands of work, family, and social life. But amid all this hustle and bustle, it’s important to your wellbeing to take a step back, switch off and relax. And a great, accessible way of achieving this is through Yoga Nidra

Nidra is an ancient yoga practice. Literally meaning “sleep” Nidra is a special kind of sleep: it is the sleep of the yogi: – a psychic sleep that takes you to a state of deep relaxation. As you lie down and follow the practice, you go through a series of steps to help you release tension and stress from your body and mind leaving you refreshed, rejuvenated, and better able to deal with life’s challenges.

With regular practice, Yoga Nidra will give you all the rich benefits of deep relaxation, from stress-reduction and improved sleep to physical health improvement including lowered inflammation, enhanced pain sensitivity and better cardio-respiratory health. 

So, if you’re ready to enjoy the benefits of Yoga Nidra, read on and discover how this ancient practice can help you stay cool in a hectic world.

Deep Relaxation Vs. Traditional Meditation

sitting meditation

While there are similarities between Nidra and traditional meditation, there are also some key differences.

Traditional meditation is concerned with quietening the thinking mind while remaining fully alert. To avoid drowsiness – a major obstacle to meditation – you remain upright, most commonly seated, throughout the practice. 

Yoga Nidra is different. The focus of Nidra is on deep relaxation, a place where the body and mind are completely at ease. Yet Nidra is also distinct from normal sleep. It is a “liminal” state at the very edge of sleep and waking. In this state, the body is able to heal itself, and the mind is able to process the events of the day. 

Since drowsiness is not a hindrance Nidra can be practiced in any position, seated or lying, making it rather easier to do for longer periods

Yoga Nidra is a guided practice. Your Nidra teacher will guide you through a series of steps to help relax your body and quieten your mind allowing your whole system to recharge and reset. 

The Science Of Yoga Nidra

Evidence for the mechanisms and benefits of nidra are based on what is known of the relaxation response. This is a natural response of the body, where the “rest-and-digest” parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system predominates.

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

Comprised of two branches – the sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) – the autonomic nervous system (ANS) coordinates physiological responses to external and internal stimuli.

The SNS is responsible for the commonly known “fight-or-flight” response, activating when we encounter a threat or perceive danger. This response triggers a surge of adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hotmones, increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, and generally preparing us for action. While the fight-or-flight response is a survival imperative in the short term, chronic activation of the SNS can lead to heightened stress levels, accompanied by tissue damage and emotional dysregulation.

the PNS on the other hand, is responsible for the “rest-and-digest” response, helping us relax and recuperate after a stressful event

This system works primarily through a nerve known as the vagus (wanderer) which delivers rest and and repair signals to the internal organs to reduce stress and tension and allow the body to heal and replenish its resources.

When you practice Yoga Nidra, you’re able to activate the parasympathetic response to reduce stress and tension and reset all your vital functions to benefit your total physical and mental health.

Practicing Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is a systematic, structured practice which you can follow. a nidra teacher will guide you, live or via pre-recorded script through a series of steps

The systematic, step-by-step practice of Yoga Nidra has been covered in my article what is yoga nidra? For convenience the steps of Yoga nidra are summarized below

Though Nidra schools vary in how they sequence and emphasize (or omit) the various elements, these can be broken down into five major steps. These are

  1. body scan
  2. working ith breath
  3. working with opposite feelings and sensation
  4. recalling images
  5. observing and abiding in silence

10 Benefits Of Yoga Nidra

yoga nidra benefits

Yoga Nidra has many benefits, physical and mental. While Nidra and Hatha Yoga share many common benefits, Nidra practices offer you an especially powerful to down-regulate your stress response at the same time as helping you foster health-promoting positive attitudes.

Both of these mental states lead to a reduction in sympathetic fight-flight reponses and circulating stress hormones, with rest-and-repair activity is actively enhanced. This is a deeply healing state where your body can rest and repair and your mind can release stress and trauma and enjoy deep calm.

Here Are Ten Major Benefits From Practicing Yoga Nidra

(click the tabs to open)

1- Lowered Inflammation

Though protective and essential for our survival, persistent or chronic inflammation leads to tissue damage and is harmful to the body

Persistent inflammation is a major cause of

  • blood vessel damage, leading to fat deposition and narrowing with consequences including heart attack and stroke
  • joint and other musculoskeletal pain
  • skin conditions such as psoriasis and more

Inflammation has also been linked to mood disturbances, including depression and anxiety

Yoga Nidra helps reduce inflammation by activating the rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system. Activity of the main parasympathetic nerve, the Vagus, has been shown to actively inhibit inflammatory cells by down-regulating the relevant genes


2 - Resetting of pain sensitivity

Pain is an unpleasant sensation experienced within the brain in response to numerous conditions. While we reasonably think of pain is a marker of tissue damage, this is only partially true

Pain may arise from a number of causes, including tissue damage and inflammation, which is accompanied by increased pain sensitivity

Pain may persist after an injury has repaired to become chronic

Pain perception is strongly linked to your psychological state. Fear, anxiety and depression heighten pain sensitivity, while optimism and positive relationships can lessen the sensation of pain

Yoga Nidra is beneficial in pain management in several ways. By inducing deep relaxation, Nidra up-regulates parasympathetic activity to

  • reduce inflammation
  • lower the stress response while encouraging positive attitudes


3 - Optimization of internal organ functions

By reducing arousal and shifting autonomic tone towards parasympathetic Nidra reduces circulating stress hormones and stimulates rest-and-repair responses, allowing your body to return to balance and optimal function

Notable benefits include improved management of

  • irritable bowel
  • acid reflux and gastritis
  • blood pressure
  • respiratory health

4 - Stress management and emotional resilience

Anxiety, panic and depression all benefit from Nidra practice

Deep relaxation reduces the perception of threat and enhances the feeling of safety to improve your mental wellbeing

5 - Better Sleep

As you learn to relax and develop greater resilience toward stress you will be better able to leave the day’s stresses and challenges behind and let your body and mind enjoy a good night’s sleep

6 - Enhanced creativity

Nidra is a journey from the physical body all the way to deepest layers of consciousness, the source of intelligence and creativity

Practicing Nidra allows you to tap into your creative source to help you become more insightful, purposeful, and resourceful in your quest to live your best life

7 - Improved cognitive brain power

Yoga, meditation and deep relaxation have all been linked with lifting brain-fog and increasing mental clarity. Improvements have been found in

  • cognitive functions including focus, memory and learning
  • executive function, allowing you to make more effective decisions


8 - Better personal and professional relationships

A cardinal feature of rest-and-digest is its association with social engagement

When the feeling of danger triggers fight-and-flight responses your brain is focused on immediate survival, a condition here competition and self-interest are advantageous

Yet we are social animals and thrive by creating communities which cooperate towards a set of common goals.

The condition for social engagement is a felt sense of safety. When mammals, humans included, feel safe they display social behaviours like grooming, sharing (and eating) food, and play. They also display greater sexual arousal, a point which has led to the parasympathetic nervous activity also being called feed-and-breed!

By actively fomenting a felt sense of safety Yoga Nidra will help you better connect with others, at home, at work and in your social activities


9 - Trauma resolution

A traumatic event can throw the brain into a state of hypervigilance and anxiety where the event may be repeatedly recalled and the brain is unable to fully let go and swtich off

There is some evidence of PTSD being associated with dysregulation of brain-waves

In his Polyvagal theory, the neuroscientist Stephen Porgess has also stipulated a possible link with our most primitive survival reflex of freezing in response to overhelm or terror

By stimulating brain waves associated with deep sleep, the so called delta brain waves, Nidra may help to regulate dysfunctional brain activity associated with PTSD

The deliberate creation of positive mental states may also help with the hypervigilance experienced by PTSD sufferers

10 - Manifestation of your heart-felt desire

A singular, if not universally practiced, step in Yoga Nidra is the element of sankalpa: an expression of a heart-felt desire through a short phrase stated at the beginning of the practice and reiterated at the end

Different schools may place more or less emphasis on sankalpa, some omitting it altogether. Nevertheless, it is an integral part of the Yoga Nidra tradition

Your sankalpa may be an intention for the practice, or it may be clear desire to see something (positive) happen in your own lifetime. it may be a personal goal, or a universal principle such as humans coming together to save our planet from overheating

The power of mind is a major part of yoga theory and practice. Mind, breath and vital air (prana) are manifestations of one pervading universal intelligence. Thus the disciplined, focused mind can direct prana towards a given goal. This is the basis of what we in West call manifesting

Whether or not you include sankalpa in your practice is a personal choice depending on how it resonates with your world view. Either way the regular practice of Nidra will yield all of the above and many more amazing benefits

And Yet More Benefits …

click the link to see how you can enjoy more fantastic benefits from practicing ha-tha yoga 

Yoga Nidra Resources and Courses

If you’re interested in practicing Yoga Nidra, there are many resources and courses available. You can start your exploration with on of the many guided practices available online.  Or you may prefer to attend a Yoga Nidra class at a local studio.

There are also many books and courses available to help you to learn more about this ancient practice.

Here are some YouTube resources for you to try


Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice that can help you to unlock the power of deep relaxation. There are numerous schools each offering different styles of practice as well varying goals and objectives. Intention plays a relatively prominent role in the Bihar School founded by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. IRest Yoga Nidra has a more clinical perspective and is more oriented towards mental wellbeing.

By following a guided practice, you can enter a state of rest that is deeper than normal sleep. This can help to reduce stress and tension, lower blood pressure, and improve overall health.

If you want to experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra for yourself, start practicing today. With regular practice, you will surely find solace in a demanding and busy world.

What Is Yoga Nidra? Discovering An Ancient Practice For Modern Times:

What Is Yoga Nidra? Discovering An Ancient Practice For Modern Times:


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What Is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice used for centuries to help practitioners release stress and tension, enjoy greater physical and emotional health and connect with their deeper self.

Literally meaning “sleep”, Nidra is a form of deep relaxation that takes you to the edge of wakefulness and sleep. It is a yogic or “psychic” sleep in the form of a guided journey from the waking state to an experience of profound relaxation and peace.

In this article, we’ll explore what Yoga Nidra is, how it works, and how to practice it, as well as discussing some of the many benefits it has to offer you.

Why Practice Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra is an ancient yoga practice known as yogic or psychic sleep. This is a form of meditation where you to enter a state of deep relaxation.

Nidra is a guided practice consisting of a series of steps starting from an awareness of the body and breath through stages of creative imagery to a state of complete repose where you can relax your body and quieten your mind

Yoga Nidra is different from normal sleep. It is a “liminal” state at the very edge of waking consciousness, just before you enter sleep.

Deep relaxation is essential for good health, allowing your body and mind to recharge and reset. Regular practice of Yoga Nidra has been linked to numerous health benefits, from stress-reduction and improved sleep, to lower background levels of inflammation, resetting of pain sensitivity, and significant enhancements in cardio-vascular, digestive and other vital areas of health and wellbeing

What Is The Difference Beteen Yoga Nidra And Meditation?

Yoga Nidra is often described as a form of meditation. While there are similarities between Nidra and traditional meditation, there are also some key differences.

Where meditation seeks to quieten the mind while staying fully alert, Nidra focuses on deep relaxation, a state of being where the body and mind are completely at ease. 

Traditional meditation is a discipline. It calls for focus and attention. Whether you are giving your attention to a single sound, image or idea, or nurturing the habit of staying present to the totality of sensations, thoughts and feelings inhabiting the here-and-now, there is effort to maintain your focus. The effort is gentle, patient and kind, but it is there. Meditation is normally practiced sitting to encourage mental alertness

Nidra lets you relax into a trance-like state close to sleep. It encourages you to let go of effort and is usually practiced lying down in a totally relaxed position. Nidra will yield its effects whether you remain awake or nod off into a snooze. As you follow the teacher’s voice, their instructions will be registered and processed whatever your level of conscious awareness

How Does Yoga Nidra Work?

Yoga Nidra brings about many of its benefits by stimulating the “rest-and-digest” parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system regulates the activity of your internal organs to produce an orchestrated response appropriate for a given situation. The system consists of a flight-fight sympathetic portion in response to challenges and a rest-and-digest parasympathetic portion associated with safety and relaxation. The two systems work together, see-saw function, to produce a balanced effect (autonomic tone) appropriate to an ever changing physical, social and psychological environment

The stress response is essential not only for survival, but also to motivate you to be active and pursue your goals. Because we modern humans spend so much of our time in a state of arousal, our bodies use up resources with little time to replenish them and to repair the damage caused. As a result, we pay by suffering the diseases of our modern age: heart disease, obesity, diabetes and malignancy among others

It therefore becomes a wellbeing imperative to make time and space for activities which actively encourage rest-and-digest.

Thie parasympathetic system works largely through a complex, multi-functional nerve known as the Vagus (wanderer) to bring about rest and and repair, helping to reduce stress and tension in the body. When you practice Yoga Nidra, you’re able to activate this response to reduce stress and tension, reset all your vital functions and boost your total physical and mental health.

The 5 Stages Of Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is a structured, systematic practice. It is usually led by a teacher who may be physically present, in-person or on-line, or via a recorded script. Though there are numerous variations, Nidra practice falls into five main stages: following an initial preparation, the focus passes from body and breath onto various stages of imagery which eventually settle into the stillness of Nidra

Preparing To Practice Nidra

  • The practice begins with an initial preparation, where you’ll be invited to establish a conducive environment and a relaxed position to let you turn your attention inwards.
  • * Next, you state an intention (Sanskrit: sanklpa) for the practice. This may be achieve the deepest relaxation possible, or heal an ailment, or something that you would like to see happen to you, or some other person or group of people. It should be imbued with great feeling, and express a deep heart-felt desire. Your sankalpa will take the form of a specific phrase which you actively repeat one or more times.

Not everyone practices sankalpa. Swami Satyananda, one of the earliest teachers of Nidra in the West, places great emphasis on sankalpa, considering a central reason for practicing Nidra. Others may prefer to skip the practice.
Check out this short video about sankalpa by Yoga Nidra Teacher Leela Miller from

Yoga Nidra Practice

  1. The first is a stage of rotation of awareness around the body. You may visualize, feel (sense) or even name the various body parts as you try to connect with the life of your body
  2. A stage of breath awareness follows. Here you will practice various ways of connecting with the breath. A common method is to count the exhalations from 10 to 1, repeatedly
  3. Next you’re invited to work with feelings and sensations. This is most often approached using pairs of opposites, such as heat and cold, heaviness and lightness, happiness and sadness. The practice encourages you to accept the pleasant and unpleasant with equanimity and is believed to balance and harmonize the two brain hemispheres.
    Working with opposites can help with trauma resolution. On the other hand, the practice may also trigger an acute traumatic state. In such instances it’s essential to desist and consider working through this under the guidance of a professional therapist.
  4. The fourth stage is one of visualization. Here you’ll create a specific set of images or experiences which foster a positive mental state. You may for example set a scene where you feel safe and able to completely relax, or follow a guided journey involving imagery.  such as a feeling of safety, 
  5. In the fifth and last step of Nidra you let go of imagery to watch the space immediately in front of you, observing it as a blank screen. Onto this screen, images may form and dissolve spontaneously, or it may remain a silent, empty space where you can enjoy the deepest level of peace and tranquility
  6. A negotiated return using the breath and gentle movements concludes the practice

Understanding the Stages Of Nidra

Nidra, And The 5 Sheaths 

Yoga Nidra is structured as a journey through the five layers of being. Ancient yogic texts (Taittiriya and Mandukya Upanishads) describe human beings as composed of three bodies consisting of five layers or sheaths:

  1. food sheath (sanskrit: Annamaya kosha) – the physical body
  2. energy sheath (Pranamaya kosha) – the vital force. You may be more familiar with prana as the chi of chinese medicine, from which it is indistinguishable. Expressed through the breath, though not itself the breath, prana is sometimes referred to as the vital air
  3. mental – emotional sheath (Manomaya kosha) – that aspect of the mind concerned with thinking and feeling
  4. intellectual – knowledge sheath (Vijñānamaya kosha) – the seat of higher intelligence including insight and creativity
  5. blissful sheath (Anandamaya kosha) – the deepest layer of individual being, it may be associated with the unconsciousness of deep sleep, or the superconscious state of spiritual enlightenment

The five steps of Yoga Nidra take us on a journey through these layers of being, from the purely physical all the way to the bliss of stillness

Nidra Practice Summary





Facilitates the practice

physical body


Clarifies and manifests your goals and values

energy body

Body scan

Embodiment takes you from thinking to sensing and anchors you in the here-and-now

thinking / feeling body

Breath awareness

Works through the breath to calm the mind

creative / intuitive body

Pairs of opposites

Improves emotinal balance and resilience

causal / blissful body


Nurtures positive mental attitudes and connects you to your creative source


Lets you abide in the healing balm of true peace


Clarify and helps manifest your intention


Helps you bring the benefits of Nidra to your daily activities

Benefits Of Practising Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra has a huge array of benefits, both physical and psychological. Nidra practices offer you a powerful tool to both down-regulate your stress response and also to help you foster health-promoting positive attitudes.

These mental states lead to a reduction in sympathetic fight-flight reponses and circulating stress hormones, while actively enhancing rest-and-repair activity. The result is a deeply healing state where your body can rest and repair and your mind can release stress and trauma and enjoy deep calm.

Yoga, mindfulness and deep relaxation, including Nidra, have been shown to exert a powerful and positive influence on the most common causes of illness and mortality of our day including

optimization of cardiac and respiratory functions

a lowering of blood pressure

reduction of bad and increase in good blood cholesterol

down-regulation of inflammation

improved digestion, bowel transit and elimination

more effective stress management concurrent with a reduction in stress hormones

improvement in mood, including relief from anxiety and depression

similar improvements in cognitive brain functions, including enhanced mental clarity and increased memory

and, of course, improvements in sleep

How To Practice Yoga Nidra

what is yoga nidra? A liminal state of deep relaxation

Before you practice Yoga Nidra, it’s important to prepare your body and mind.

Wear comfortable clothing, and make sure that the room is quiet and free from distractions. You can use props, such as blankets or pillows, to make yourself more comfortable.

If you intend to include an intention (sankalpa) in your practice, reflect on what you would like this to be, and turn it into a definite short phrase. Use this same phrase word for word each time you practice.

It’s a good idea to practice at the same time each day, as this can help to establish a routine and make it easier to relax.

A Starter Yoga Nidra Practice
1: Body Scan

Here, then, is a guided Yoga Nidra for you to try. This is a short taster practice involving a body scan to take you from thinking to listening and sensing.

You’ll find links to more complete Nidra scripts in the resources section below

Yoga Nidra Resources: Classes and Free Scripts

If you’re interested in practicing Yoga Nidra, there are many resources and courses available. You can find guided practices online, or attend a Yoga Nidra class at a local studio. There are also many books and courses available that can help you to learn more about this ancient practice.

Here are some YouTube recordings from three distinct Nidra schools for you to try

The Meaning Of Yoga: Origins, Philosophy And Practice

The Meaning Of Yoga: Origins, Philosophy And Practice


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What Is The True Meaning Of Yoga?

Yoga has become a mainstream phenomenon, with millions of people practicing it worldwide. Yoga has been associated with almost countless benefits, and its practice is joyful and life enhancing. But have you ever wondered about the origins and philosophy behind this ancient practice?

Yoga has a long and rich history dating back thousands of years, with roots in India and connections to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Its practices include physical postures, but go beyond, embracing spirituality, and self-awareness

How would a knowledge of yoga philosophy be useful? How you understand your practice will not only enrich what you do on the mat, but allow you to integrate yoga into your life to bring about deep and lasting changes. By understanding the principles behind yoga you can unlock its mysteries and more fully access its transformative power

What Is Yoga?

Derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning yoke, yoga means union. But what is united with what? In the popular mind yoga integrates mind and body. And certainly, embodied awareness brings advantages, helping you you use your body optimally to minimize wear and release tension, as well as reducing anxiety and generally improving emotional resilience

However, therapeutic as it is as a mind-body practice, yoga is at source a spiritual practice: a quest to discover our innermost nature and experience the oneness of all

In its original meaning yoga refers to a vary particular type of union: the union of individual awareness with universal consciousness. This direct experience is described as beyond thought, thus one of yoga’s most famous (and my personal favourite) definitions, as expressed by Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras:


“Yoga is the suspension of the thinking processes of the mind

This is in direct contradiction to mainstream Western thinking, which is polarized in the mind. For the Westerner, to stop thinking is to cease to be. And in a sense this is true. When we stop thinking our individuality vanishes. For the yogis of old, the ultimate anihilation of the little self gives way to a realization of your true self. As a metaphor, think of an empty tumbler. The glass is the ego. The Space within is the individual. And the space without the universal. What happens when we take away the glass?

History of Yoga – Ancient Indian Roots

The origins of yoga can be traced back to the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India (modern day Pakistan) over 5,000 years ago. The practice was originally developed as a way to achieve spiritual enlightenment and connect with the divine

Though over time yoga has evolved and developed into countless different schools and traditions, all yoga systems are variations of just four classical types of yoga, each more or less suited to the temperament of the practitioner:

  1. Jñana (pronounced gyana) yoga: is the yoga of study and reflecting on universal truths. It’s practiced by those of a more intellectual, reflective disposition.
  2. Bhakti yoga: engages the emotions toward a devotional ideal and suitable for those more anchored in the realm of feelings
  3. Karma yoga: the yoga of action not for self-gain is to be practiced by those of a more extrovert, action-centred disposition
  4. Raja (Royal) yoga: the yoga of order and method. Raja Yoga was systematized somewhere between 200 BCE and 200 CE by the sage Patanjali in the form of aphorisms (sutras) describing eight steps to wisdom. Raja is synonymous with Ashtanga on account of having 8 (ashta) limbs (anga)

In the 20th century, yoga spread to the West where it became popularized as a form of exercise and stress relief. Today, yoga is practiced all over the world, with countless schools typically bearing the name of a style (yin, vinnie, restorative, dynamic) or a teacher (Sivananda, Muktananda, Iyengar). What binds them all is that virtually all modern yogas are schools of Hatha, itself a branch of Patanjali’s eight-limbed path, Raja Yoga

The Philosophy of Yoga – Understanding The Eight Limbs Of Ashtanga

Hatha is widely considered to be a variant of Raja Yoga. In the opening lines Swami Swatmarama, author of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Light On Hatha Yoga), says

Yogi Svatmarama, after saluting the Lord and teacher, explains the science of Hatha for one reason—Raja Yoga

For those ignorant of Raja Yoga, wandering in the darkness of too many opinions, compassionate Svatmarama gives the light of Hatha

A composite of two words, Ha (Sun) and Tha (Moon), Hatha seeks to put you in touch with the essential oneness of opposite and complimentary aspects of yourself and your environment





Sun: warm, active, energetic



Moon: cool, reflective, calming


Hatha being none other than Ashtanga, let’s take a look at this yoga of meditation. The Raja Yoga Sutras enumerate eight steps to wisdom. These are:

  1. Yama – ethical standards and integrity
  2. Niyama – self-discipline and spiritual observances
  3. Asana – physical postures
  4. Pranayama – breathwork
  5. Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses
  6. Dharana – concentration with effort
  7. Dhyana – meditation or flowing awareness
  8. Samadhi – the transcendental state of pure and blissful awareness

The first 2 limbs deal with principles for living in harmony with yourself and others.  Though an essential part of the yoga path, they are outside the scope of this article and beyond the remit of the yoga class, and will be treated separately

The remaining six are the subject of this article and we will discuss them in a philosophical and practical context below

Hatha Yoga: Your Body Is Your Temple

Hatha, with its emphasis on physical postures, breath regulation and mindful attention is the essence of modern day yoga practice. Yet behind their outer form hatha practices remain a system for quietening the mind through meditation

Hatha seeks to join the active, warm, outgoing principle (ha) with the receptive, cool, reflective principle (tha) through practices centred on body-work, breath-regulation and mindfulness

Similar to the Chinese system of meridians, Hatha describes 72,000 nadis (literally rivers) transmitting the vital energy prana which gives us life. Of these, three are vital: Ida, Pingala and Shushumna





Right Side

Rising energy


Left Side

falling energy



spiritual energy

yoga physlosophy - the menaing of yoga

Associated with the active principle ha,Ida runs on the right of the spine

Pingala, associated with the receptivetha principle runs on the left

Ida and Pingala cris-cross as they ascend, creating vortices of energy at their intersections which you may know as the system of chakras (wheels). Each chakra represents a level of being. We will deal with these in a later article

The third channel, Shushumna, runs straight in the midline from the tailbone to the top of the head. Shushumna is ordinarily dormant

During waking, dreaming and deep sleep life force (prana) flows in Ida and Pingala

The goal of Hatha is to unite the Ha with the Tha, Ida with Pingala, to awaken the serpent power, Kundalini Shakti, which resides in the coccyx or tailbone, allowing it to ascend through the Shushumna to reveal the true nature of the self and the universe

Doing And Being

If you follow the eight steps you’ll see that Patanjali takes us from doing and not doing (worthy deeds) to sensing (turning your attention within and holding it there) to being (entering a state of abiding through to complete absorption)

Yoga is both the process of practising yoga and the state achieving yoga or union, it´s both the path and the goal. In Indian thought acting, thinking and feeling are all actions. Modern neuroscience concurs with this having established that the same brain areas involved in planning and executing movement organize thinking process

Motor activity has an affinity with the ha principle and is associated with Ida Nadi

Sensory perception belongs to the tha principle and is linked to pingala nadi

But yoga is ultimately about stillness. Stillness belongs to the realm of Shumuna Nadi

Just like falling asleep, being can arise naturally under the right conditions. Try this observational body mindfulness combining doing and being

PRACTICAL 1 – Sitting: Doing, Sensing And Being

Assume an easy, comfortable sitting position

Notice your posture: is you body comfortable and relaxed? Or tense and in discomfort? Is your reaction to stay put or change your position? Can you alter your position to feel more at ease? Where in the body can you feel tension? Which areas are relaxed? Are there areas that you feel disconnected from, where you feel little or nothing?

Feel free to support parts of your body with cushions or a folded blanket. Are there areas that remain tense?

Now, notice your breath in the body. Can you feel your heart beating? How does your belly feel? How does your chest feel? Let your body speak to you. Listen to what it’s saying

Without losing sight of your body, notice the space around you. Feel the air against your skin. Its temperature and humidity. Notice the sounds around you. While these are external stimuli, they are registered within your own consciousness. They are a part of you

Notice your thoughts. What are you thinking about? How are you feeling? If you find yourself following a train of thought, come back to your body and breath. Maintain an awareness of the whole perceptive field. Notice impressions come and go, like clouds in the sky. Foment an attitude of curiosity. Be gentle and loving with all your experiences

Holding the whole field of awareness, repeat to yourself

Just sitting, I know that I am just sitting

Repeat this a few times while observing your entire perceptive field. Be with yourself for a minute or two. Stay a while longer. Or read on…

Yoga and the Body – Asana

This quiet, observant attitude can be applied to any and all of activities fast and slow, from practising yoga asanas to all your daily activities

We typically start asana practice by trying to perform the asana correctly, the definition of correct depending on the style and teacher. You think about your posture and alignment, appraise its quality and make necessary adjustments. Breath helps you enhance body awareness and relax unnecessary effort.

Gradually, you begin to relax your effort as posture, movement, breath and attention flow. As you continue to observe your whole field of awareness, stillness emerges as settling of the body into a posture or movement that’s finely balanced, dynamic and joyful. The process continues, as you, the observer, are able to remain still

Benefits Of Practising Asanas

In common with other hatha practices, the primary purpose of asanas is to clear the body’s energy channels, the physical counterpart of this being expressed as

  • improved circulation and
  • enhanced nerve-signal transmission

In addition to increasing tissue nutrition, improved circulation assists the function of the hormonal (endocrine) and immune systems which, together with the nervous system constitute the body’s primary regulatory mechanism, to keep you healthy, happy and alive

Different asanas also afford specific benefits, from releasing tension and stiffness to facilitating mobility and building strength and stability. Asana work has been used to successfully treat many aches and pains, especially those of a more chronic nature, improving joint and muscle function, circulation, and overall fitness

Asanas are a major tool for enhancing body awareness. Increased awareness of the body in space (proprioception, kinaesthesia) is associated with a reduction in injuries. More generally, embodied consciousness is associated with a reduction in anxiety and improved emotional resilience

The Importance of Breathwork in Yoga: Pranayama

Breathwork, or prana (vital air) – yama (restraint), is an essential part of yoga. Prana, the life-force, has its primary expression in the body as breath. In the mind, prana manifests as thinking and feeling. By calming the breath, we calm the movement of prana. Just as pranayama helps to still the mind to allow us to experience our true nature, which lies beyond thought, breath can also calm the mind to reduce stress and anxiety and improve your mental health

There are many pranayamas in yoga. One well known technique involves breathing with the throat partially constricted. This Ujjayi is a heating breath that will energize you and focus the mind and body. Others, like alternate nostril breathing, will balance and calm the sympathetic and parasympathetic portions of the autonomic nervous system by regulating the flow of prana through ida and pingala

Or you may prefer to sit quietly , observing the breath, allowing the body to set the rhythm. However you practice breathwork you will be working with prana. Where prana moves the mind is active. Where prana rests, the mind is at peace

Benefits Of Pranayama

Pranayama in yoga is offered as a tool to still the mind and bring peace. There is a strong link between breath calming techniques and activation of the parasympathetic rest-and-repair portion of the nervous system. The action is mediated via an important nerve called the Vagus. You can read my article on the Vagus nerve here

Whether you seek to reach the superconscious state of enlightenment, enjoy moments of being, or want to live a healthier life with less stress, tension and anxiety, pranayama is a vital component of yoga’s healing power

Yoga and Meditation – Connecting Mind and Body

Meditation is an essential, if not a defining aspect of all yoga practices. Without meditation, yoga is indeed a system of physical and breathing exercises. The engagement of the mind in breath and body-work is the soul of all yoga practice

Though many meditation techniques exist, including mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, and transcendental mantra-based meditation, practices are generally of two complementary kinds:

  • one pointed absorption on a single object or concept
  • A dispassionate observation of the whole field of perception: bodily feelings, sights and sounds, thoughts, memories and emotions, without dwelling on any one

By practicing mindfulness, we can cultivate an awareness of our physical and mental habits and introduce a greater element of choice. On the yoga mat and in daily life, observing how you move, sit and stand lets you listen to the feedback from your body and introduce an element of choice. The choice to improve what can be changed. And also the choice to embrace things as they are

Benefits Of Meditation

Research into mindfulness has shown a great many physical and mental health benefits, notably associated with a reduction in stress and anxiety and a lifting of mood

In yoga, the physical postures are used as a preparation for meditation and as a meditation in itself. By focusing the mind on the body and the breath, we can quieten the mind and prepare for deeper states of meditation and self-awareness

Benefits of Yoga – Physical and Mental Health

The application of the ancient Buddhist practices of mindfulness to mental health, and the development of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has led the way to a vast body of literature examining and demonstrating the benefits of meditation

Research into yoga practices soon followed, offering equally profound insights into the physical and mental health of practicing yoga. Importantly, the research has tended to emphasize the importance of yoga as a mindfulness based intervention (MBI), a trait shared with other systems, including Chi Qong, Tai’ Chi, and Pilates

Physically, yoga can help improve flexibility, strength, and balance, as well as reduce pain and inflammation. Yoga’s effects on inflammation are not mediated by an improvement in mechanics, but rather by a reduction in stress, leading to a change in nervous, hormonal and immune activity to actively down regulate inflammation promoting genes

Mentally, yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood, sleep and cognitive function, as well as promoting self-awareness

Check my previous article for or a fuller account of how yoga benefits specific areas of wellbeing

Yoga – Finding A Practice That Works For You

Developing a holistic yoga practice involves going beyond the physical postures and breathwork to cultivate a mindful and compassionate attitude, first towards ourselves, and then extended towards others. This can be achieved through any combination of mindful movement, breath regulation, meditations on loving kindness and just gentle and patient self-observation, both within the class and beyond

Finding a practice that’s right for you requires exploring a variety of approaches, working preferably with a teacher who can support your needs and work with you to adapt the postures accordingly. 

In the same way we gravitate towards particular people and places, by trying out different styles and teachers, you will find a practice that resonates with you and supports your physical, mental, and spiritual health

If you´re new to yoga, start by taking a beginner’s class or workshop. Working with a teacher will start you off on a firm path with good habits on which to build your personal practice

If you are wanting to use yoga to resolve aches and pains or manage some health condition you will definitely want to start working one on one with a qualified teacher

Check our range of online yoga classes and Spanish yoga retreats

Conclusion – Embracing the Spiritual Journey of Yoga

Yoga is more than a physical practice – it’s a spiritual journey that can help you connect with your true self and the world in which you live

Yoga is something you do. And also a state of being you can experience and enjoy

Understanding the philosophy and origins of yoga gives you greater freedom to enjoy the full range of yoga´s transformative power

Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or just starting out, there’s always more to learn and discover on the path of yoga. Embrace the journey and let the light of yoga guide you towards a happier, healthier, and more meaningful life

Unlocking the Power of the Vagus Nerve: How Yoga Can Transform Your Mind and Body

Unlocking the Power of the Vagus Nerve: How Yoga Can Transform Your Mind and Body

Rest & Digest: The Vagus Nerve, Yoga And Wellbeing

Hot Air Or Cool Science?

Yoga is a popular form of exercise that has been shown to regulate the stress response with health benefits including reduced anxiety, optimization of vital functions such as blood pressure and digestion, and even enhancing immunity and calming the body’s inflammatory response

How does developing greater resilience to stress bring about so many benefits on so many levels? A major key is the Vagus Nerve, a pivotal mind-body link involved in down-regulating the body’s stress response and a major pathway for yoga-mediated relaxation

Dubbed by some “superhighway to health”, and “physical manifestation of the soul”, the Vagus is presented as a veritable holy grail for realizing your dreams and achieving health and happiness. But is such enthusiasm justified, or is it so much hype? What does science tell us about the function of the vagus nerve?

In this article, we’ll explore the structure, function and science of the Vagus nerve and explore how yoga, breathing and mindfulness practices can steer the body towards rest-and-digest to help you cope with stress and boost your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being

Understanding the Mind-Body Connection

The mind-body link is a pivotal aspect of our physiology and essential for optimal functioning and well-being. There is the intricate relationship between our thoughts, emotions, and physical health.

When we experience not just stress and anxiety, but also positive motions like love and joy, it affects not only our mental state but also our physical body. The mind and body are not separate entities but rather interconnected systems that influence one another. Mind and body are connected via three major pathways:

The (Autonomic) Nervous System, itself divided into a sympathetic fight-flight, and a parasympathetic rest-and-digest portion

The Hormonal (Endocrine) System

The Immune System

Each has a crucial role to play in protecting you against danger, injury and disease

Stress and anxiety gear the body for action, quickening the pulse, agitating the breath raising the heart pressure and generally diverting blood from the vital organs to the muscles of movement, and is mediated by the fight flight (or fight fright) activity of the Sympathetic Nervous System

The perception of safety is an essential condition for your body to rest, digest and generally replenish spent resources. This parasympathetic activity is distributed to the body at large through a number of nerves, the principal one being the Vagus Nerve. 

Introducing The Vagus Nerve

The vagus is a paired nerve originating in the brain stem and descending through the neck and trunk to supply target organs from the throat all the way to the pelvis. 

Also known as the “wandering nerve,” the Vagus is the longest cranial nerve in our body, extending from the brain-stem down to the abdomen and pelvis, and is responsible for regulating various bodily functions. Through its extensive network of branches, the Vagus links the brain with the vital organs, including the heart, lungs, and digestive system.

The Vagus exclusively parasympathetic. It is a mixed nerve carrying

  • motor fibres to the muscles for voice and eating, notably swallowing and gagging
  • parasympathetic rest-and digest fibres to most internal organs. Parasympathetic activity is a powerful anti-stress mechanism helping your body recover from a stressful event or period
  • and sensory fibres relaying information about the state of the internal organs to the brain. The vagus is the major part of the gut-brain axis, an important pathway for emotional regulations and gastrointestinal health

It’s important to mention that the Vagus is not itself the source of rest-and-digest activity, but rather a cable linking the brain to the target organs through bidirectional electrical signals. To understand the Vagus and harness its healing power it’ll be helpful to take a closer look at the autonomic nervous system

Understanding The Autonomic Nervous System

Though the nervous system is an undivided whole, it is convenient when studying it to break it down into component parts. A major classification divides the nervous system into

  • a voluntary or somatic component dealing with voluntary movements and conscious perception
  • and an autonomic nervous system (ANS) involved in regulating involuntary internal functions essential for life, such as your heart rate, digestion, and breathing

The ANS itself can be further divided into a:

  • Sympathetic – fight & flight which, together with cortisol, a hormone released from brain, constitutes the stress response to situations deemed to be challenging
  • Parasympathetic – mediating relaxation, or rest and digest when the perception of safety is uppermost
  • And a third, freeze reaction. Considered our most primitive form of self-preservation, freezing is a response to the terror of sensing extreme danger, and is a factor in trauma and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Note that the safety linked rest-and-digest and terror driven freeze reactions are both mediated by the Vagus. One nerve, two very different functions originating in different brain regions

Autonomic Tone

The autonomic nervous system is a single integrated system concerned with regulating those essential life-preserving activities that lie (largely) outside of voluntary control. Sympathetic and parasympathetic activity work together in a synergistic way to provide an autonomic tone appropriate for any given situation

Vagus Nerve: Basic Anatomy And Functions

The Vagus exits the brain-stem in the lower posterior part of the cranium, descending into the neck, and travelling down to be distributed to the organs of the neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis

yoga and the vagus nerve

The Vagus is a mixed nerve, being:

  • 80% sensory and 20% motor
  • sensory components include include pain sensitivity and interoceptive (see below) sensations from the organs, such as hunger, thirst, fullness and satiety
  • its motor functions include control of the voluntary muscles for voice and involuntary muscles associated with eating, notably swallowing and gagging
  • it is the principal carrier of rest and digest signals from the parasympathetic nervous system to your internal organs

Rest and digest actions of the Vagus nerve on key organs

  • HEART – slows down heart rate, lowers blood pressure
  • LUNGS – calms the rate and depth of breathing
  • GUT – stimulates digestion, absorption and intestinal transit
  • SPLEEN – supports immunity; lowers inflammation

Safety, Social Engagement And The Vagus

As stress mobilizes your body’s resources into quick action to deal with a challenge, rest allows your body to replenish its resources

Rest-and-digest parasympathetic activity predominates when you perceive being in a safe environment or situation

The Vagus is also involved in social social engagement. According to the Polyvagal Theory proposed in 1994 by Stephen Porges, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, safety is the condition for social behaviour to take place in mammals. Eating with friends and family, sharing stories, giving and accepting support and cooperating with your work team are expressions of social engagement.

Think Mediterranean lifestyle: extended mealtimes, outdoor socializing, a clear distinction between work and leisure. It’s not just what you eat, but also how you eat it that lets you rest and digest

Freeze Reactions, Trauma And The Vagus

The Vagus is also responsible for freeze reactions associated with extreme fear. This is our most ancient and primitive form of self-defence. Where running away is not an option animals such as reptiles will feign death to increase the chances of not being eaten. In us humans, freeze is associated with extreme fear and is a factor in trauma and post-traumatic stress

The Sensory Vagus: Interoception And Emotional Regulation

The vagus is 80% sensory. It’s repertoire includes the sensation of pain,  as well as being the main pathway for interoception: your brain’s ability to listen to the state of your internal organs

A relatively “newly” recognized sense, interoception refers to your ability to sense your inner body. Hunger, thirst and satiety are examples of consciously accessible interoceptive sensations. Interoception is strongly linked with emotional regulation, and engaging with your body’s internal state has been shown to help you manage stress & anxiety and enjoy a felt sense of wellbeing

The Vagus In Health And Disease

By controlling rest-and-digest activity in the body, the Vagus is essential for homoestasis – the maintenance of a stable internal environment.

The Vagus is a major part of the gut-brain axis, linking gastro-intestinal function to emotional regulation and wellbeing

Vagal activity suppresses the release of inflammatory mediators, notably tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) from the Spleen to exert a powerful anti-inflammatory effect (Buric 2017)

Hardly surprising then that Vagal activity is associated with improved mental health, from PTSD to anxiety and depression, as well inflammatory disorders including inflammatory bowel disease (Bonaz 2017), arthritis and psoriasis. It plays a significant role in cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health

Parasympathetic Vagal activity strengthens the immune system, and may even have an significant role in the management of cancer

Vagus nerve stimulation has been postulated as a potential adjunctive treatment for cancer. Animal studies have found a reduction in tumour size following vagus nerve stimulation. A systematic review by De Couck, et al. (2018) of studies on human cancer patients found a positive correlation between Vagal activity and prognosis (expected outcome). The strength of the association was especially marked in patients with metastatic spread of the disease

The Vagus Nerve And Yoga

Yoga is in essence a holistic mind-body therapy integrating posture and movement with breath-work and mindful awareness to help you become centered, tranquil and happy. Researchers have linked all the major physical and mental health benefits to yoga’s contemplative dimension of yoga, with the parasympathetic nervous system and Vagus as principal mediators (Gerritsen 2018, Sullivan 2018)

Nevertheless, there is some evidence supporting the idea that some yoga postures and breathing exercises can mechanically stimulate the vagus within the abdomen, chest and neck to bring about measurable parasympathetic effects

Vagus Nerve Stimulation With Yoga

The Vagus Nerve can be stimulated electrically by means of an external device: electrical stimulation of the parasympathetic Vagus has been shown to slow heart-rate, relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It has also been successfully used to relieve some cases of depression. Though the procedure also has several potential applications, Vagal electrical stimulation is currently licensed solely for managing treatment-resistant epilepsy and depression

Yoga may directly stimulate the Vagus in a variety of ways, including breathing techniques and postures which mechanically stimulate the abdomen, chest and neck

Though rigorous studies are lacking, there is some preliminary evidence that breathing exercises (pranayamas) and postures (asanas) which stimulate the abdomen, chest and neck give immediate responses indicative of parasympathetic activity. Commonly recommended exercises include

  • Kapala Bhati (Shining Skull) and Bhastrika (Bellows) breathing
  • Chest opening back-bends such as the Cobra (Bhujangasana), Camel (Ustrasana) and Bow (Dhanurasana)
  • Inversions such as shoulder (Salamba Sarvangasana) and head stand (Shirshasana)

Mechanical stimulation of the vagus nerve via yoga poses, though immediate, is also transient, leading some to doubt its usefulness. Nevertheless, it may be a useful short-term tool for getting a grip quickly in situations of high stress or anxiety


Electrical stimulation of the Vagus Nerve can be graduated to specifically target the parasympathetic Vagus with a number of positive effects

Yoga and other exercises may mechanically stimulate the Vagus, but no volume control exists for specifically targeting the relaxation response (remember the Vagus is polymodal)

Though it has a element of physical exercise, yoga can be more accurately described a holistic mind-body therapy integrating posture and movement with breath-work and mindful awareness to help you become centered, tranquil and happy.

Researchers have concluded that the observed health benefits of yoga are primarily linked to its contemplative dimension, with the parasympathetic nervous system and Vagus as principal mediators (Gerritsen 2018, Sullivan 2018)

Yoga And Cardiovascular Health

The real power of yoga, it seems, lies in its practice of mindfulness. As a holistic mind-body intervention (MBI) yoga has been shown to help you mitigate chronic arousal to reduce stress and boost rest-and-digest activity

Research shows that yoga improves the major predictors of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Regular yoga practice lowers your blood pressure, improves blood cholesterol profile, raising good and lower bad cholesterol levels, and down-regulates inflammation, a major factor in blood vessel damage and fat deposition (Cramer 2014)

Yoga And Inflammation

A 2017 systematic review of MBIs (Buric 2017) showed that mindfulness, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, relaxation and breath regulation all produced a down-regulation of inflammation at the gene level. Inflammation is strongly linked to stress and is a major cause of the blood vessel damage leading to fat deposition and narrowing

Numerous systematic reviews have found yoga to be helpful in maladies from back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic pain, to migraine, tension headaches, asthma, irritable bowel and mental health, including major depressive disorder

Click the link to read more about the health benefits of yoga

Practical – Vagus Nerve Yoga

Yoga has been shown to have a positive impact on vagus nerve function, leading to improved health and well-being. Yoga breathing and relaxation techniques help activate the parasympathetic relaxation response, promoting a positive feeling of calm and relaxation to stimulate the vagus nerve. Additionally, some yoga poses, such as backbends and inversions help stimulate the vagus nerve and improve its function in the short term. By incorporating yoga into your daily routine, you can help support your vagus nerve and promote better health and well-being

Let’s put theory into practice with some yoga exercises to help you stay chilled and on the ball – in all weathers

vagus nerve yoga tadasana

Posture, Safety And The Vagus

Posture & Emotion

The posture of fear resembles a tortoise hiding its shell: the trunk is tense, the head and extermities pulled in; the breath is held; a small noise can make your knees give way – or turn you into a hare as you make a dash for it

The posture of safety is a different tortoise: the trunk is relaxed, the limbs strong, the head emerges, the senses look outward and the breath flows

Here in this most fundamental of yoga postures – Tadasana, the mountain – we’ll use the force of gravity to stimulate postural reflexes which signal safety to the vagus

The exercise is also a great way to establish the fundamentals for practising all standing postures 

Standing Firm: Tadasana, The Mountain Pose

  1. Stand with your feet at hips’ width apart. Notice the turn-out (or in) of your feet. The population-average for neutral is your second toe pointing forward. Find your comfortable balance between habit and correct. This is your functional neutral. Do this for each foot. Don’t worry if your feet aren’t totally symmetrical
  2. Distribute your weight evenly over the heels and bases of the little and big toes
  3. Pull your knees back to lock them straight. Do you feel the reaction at the pelvis? The pelvis tends to roll forward, the lower back hollows, and maybe your tummy juts forward
  4. Now, keeping your knees straight let them just relax forward. Feel the base of the spine (sacrum) release down and under? Does your tummy relax back in?
  5. Alternate between relaxing and locking your knees a few times, noticing the effects on your posture
  6. This time try simply pressing your feet into the ground. Straight down. Firmly. Notice the muscles of the legs and trunk activate? Is there less of a tendency for your bottom to stick back and your belly forward? Let yourself relax

Now we’ve done all that doing, let’s do a bit of undoing

  1. Noticing your body weight over your heels, connect with the feeling of pressure. Let your heels sink into the ground, your knees straight, but unlocked
  2. Maybe you feel the leg muscles begin to activate? If you’re not sure, press your feet down. Firmly. Then relax, and let them once again drop
  3. Can you feel your pelvis rotate backwards as your feet sink, your tail dropping down and tucking under, your pubic bone floating up and back? Maybe you feel the pelvis float up a little, away from the feet?
  4. Do you feel your navel float naturally backwards? You’ve just activated, or rather disinhibited the transversus muscle, the deepest layer of abdominal support
  5. Now, let’s transfer the awareness up to the head: imagine your head as a ball, the top of your neck a bowl of water. Let the head float on the water
  6. With your your gaze forward at eye level, let your head roll on the water so your chin relaxes backwards, towards the top of your throat, and the space between the back of your head and neck opens and softens. You’re still looking forward, not down
  7. Can you feel the crown of the head float up and slightly back?
  8. Now that your head is free, you can let your neck hang from your head; then allow your upper and middle back, rib cage, shoulders and arms to hang from the neck; now let your lower back hang from your middle back; your pelvis and legs drop from the lower back; your feet sink into the ground
  9. Let your head float; allow your feet to drop; linger a while; enjoy

Breathing Calm: Pranayama For The Vagus Nerve

Experimentally and practically, breathing always comes up trumps as a way to connect with the rest-and-digest functions of the vagus

Science loves breathing: it’s quantifiable, practicable and reliably parasympathetic, as evidenced in a recent systematic review entitled: “How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life” (A Zaccaro et al, 2018)

Yoga loves breathing: breath is the primary expression of vital energy in the body. Prana, the vital force of yoga is indistinguishable from the Qi of Chinese medicine. Prana is the living energy we know as health, the spark that animates the body and lights up the mind. When prana moves the mind is thinks and feels. When prana is still the mind is at peace

The exercises below will help you make full use of the breath by allowing the air to fill every available part

savasana: yoga for vagus nerve stimulation

The diaphragm is the main muscle of breathing. I’ll be sharing information on the anatomy and functions of the diaphragm in a separate post.

Just as when lifting your arm you’re following an intention to reach for something, not consciously activating the anterior Deltoid muscle, so when you breathe diaphragmatically you follow a set of intentions. Let me show you what I mean

Yoga Breathing Exercise For Vagus Nerve Stimulation – Side Breathing

  1. Place your hands over the front of the sides of your lower ribs. Rest your elbows on the ground and keep your hands separate
  2. Mentally place a 2lb weight on the underside of the navel. As you inhale your belly will rise, but that little bit of resistance will helps drive the air sideways into the lower ribs. Can you feel that? Your hands resting on the lower ribs will be your guide.
  3. Practice taking long, slow outbreaths. At the end of each exhalation wait for the inbreath to start naturally. Let the lower side ribs accept the air as above, then let the breath go slowly and quietly. Practice this for a minute or two
balasana: yoga and the vagus nerve

Yoga Breathing Practical For Vagus Nerve Stimulation – Back Breathing

Now, lie on your front, legs extended or flexed in the child’s pose as per the picture. Support your head if you need to, resting your forehead on your hands or a rolled up blanket

  1. With pressure on your belly, where does the air go when you inhale? Maybe some of it goes into the upper chest. that’s OK. Does some of the air fill the sides of the lower ribs? That’s even better
  2. You can if you want to, place the back of one hand over the lower ribs at the back. Can you allow this area to accept the breath? Try it on the other side
  3. Enjoy exhaling long, soft and for a minute or so

Inhabiting Your Body – Mindful Embodiment For Emotional Wellbeing

This simple, yet powerful body scan is a pure body meditation derived from an ancient Buddhist tradition, allegedly taught by the Buddha himself

The last of our three yoga practices for vagus nerve stimulation, this meditation helps you enjoy calm here and now through a felt sense of you own body. There is nothing to do but relax and observe

Sit or lie comfortably in a quiet space. Hit the play button. And enjoy


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Psycho Somatics: A Marriage Of Mind And Body

Psycho Somatics: A Marriage Of Mind And Body


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Introducing Mind-Body Medicine

It seemed to me most apt to kick off this mind-body blog by introducing our central premise – the oneness of the mind (psyche) and body (soma) as it relates to health and healing. The term psychosomatic, though having a precise scientific meaning, is sometimes associated with negative beliefs such as: disease resulting from neurotic behaviour, or maybe an imagined ailment which exists only in your mind. Nothing could be further from the truth

The term embraces psycho (mind) and soma (body) and refers to the observation that there is an intimate relationship between mind-body where the condition of one is reflected in the other.

 Some “conditions” are considered especially prone to being aggravated by psychological stress: the skin disorder psoriasis, for instance, or irritable bowel syndrome and high blood pressure. Psychosomatic or “functional” disorders tend to be classified as such when medicine has not yet found a definitive physical cause. In fact all healthy and dysfunctional states co-exist in the psyche and soma in a bidirectional way, and all states of health and disease may, in this sense, be considered psycho-somatic

Body-Mind Connection

While it’s not difficult to understand how physical illness and pain can impact you emotionally you might ask “how does a mental state aggravate your gut or increase your blood pressure?” To answer this we need to look at how the body orchestrates the myriad activities that make up our physiology

 The human body is regulated by three great interconnected and intercommunicating systems

  • The nervous system – processes data and regulates bodily functions on a moment to moment basis through electrical impulses travelling along nerves
  • The endocrine system – does this over days, weeks or months through circulating messengers we call hormones
  • Finally the immune system distinguishes between self from other to keep us safe from external and internal invaders, including bacteria, viruses and cells which have undergone malignant change

Autonomic Nervous System

The nervous system can be (artificially) divided into sub-systems. Of interest to psychosomatics is the division into

  • somatic (SNS) – associated with movement and sensation, and
  • autonomic (ANS) – associated with internal functions such as digestion, breathing, blood pressure and, crucially, inflammation

The ANS itself has two arms: the

  • Sympathetic system (SNS) – responding to danger by preparing the body for fight or flight

SNS activity is associated with stress and is pro-inflammatory. Though essential for our survival, persistent activation is associated with some of the harmful effects of stress and inflammation

  • Parasympathetic system (PSNS) – associated with two distinct responses:
    • freezing reactions (feigning death) to a situation perieved as a major threat to survival – this is the phylogenetically oldest response to threat, associated with overwhelm and thought to be the basis of post-traumatic stress
    • rest, digest and social interactivity in response to sensing safety – this is the phylogenetically most recent adaptation, unique to mammals.

Fight, Flight And The Stress Response

The World Health Organization defines stress as

“… a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree…”

Coined by the Austrian-Canadian Dr Hans Selye in 1936, stress refers to both the experience and the collection of bodily responses to a challenge. Dr Selye found that the body mounts a stereotypical response which he called the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) in response to any challenge

The GAS starts with an individual’s appraisal of a situation as challenging, and is followed by a cascade of hormonal and neural responses culminating in the release of cortisol and adrenaline from the adrenals. These substances prepare the body for action, quickening the heart, raising the blood pressure and diverting blood from the vital organs to the muscles. They also inhibit digestive activity, and some immune responses, while at the same time up-regulating inflammation

diagram of the fight and flight response

Fight-And-Flight Is Pro-Inflammatory

Inflammation is one of the most basic activities carried out by the immune system to protect us from disease. While inflammation is protective it can, when excessive, prolonged (chronic) or inappropriate (eg auto-immunity) cause us harm

Harmful effects from inflammation include

  • Bronchospasm in asthma
  • Bowel inflammation with pain and impaired absorption
  • Arthritis with joint swelling with pain
  • Blood vessel damage with deposition of fibro-fatty plaques (atheroma) causing obstruction
  • A range of mental health issues including depression

The connectivity between physical and mental health is perfectly illustrated in a recent literature review ( Viktoriya Maydych, 2019) which concludes that

“current research supports a direct link between stress, inflammation and reduced emotional attention, the triad itself being a predictor of depression”

Rest And Digest Is Anti-Inflammatory

Rest-and-digest responses are the province of the parasympathetic nervous system and are associated with feelings of safety. Its effect is anti-inflammatory, helping the body heal, repair and replenish its resources

The Vagus Nerve is the principle carrier of the signals orchestrating visceral rest and digest activity. You can learn more about the Vagus in my article Yoga And Vagus Nerve Activation

The Vagus Nerve has been shown to actively inhibit key inflammatory mediators through its action on the spleen, an immune – and therefore inflammation – regulatory organ

I hope this briefest of introductions into the mid-body polarity has served to illustrate how a strict division of the two is at odds with the current evidence. Every action, and every experience impacts on the mind and body as one

Of necessity we are primed to detect danger, spurring us to react with appropriate action. If the danger signal doesn’t give way to safety, we remain in a state of hypervigilance and persistent arousal, with negative consequences for our physical as well as mental health.

By nurturing the feeling of safety and relaxation, mind-body disciplines such as yoga can help you tone down the perception and response to stress and let your system rest, reset and heal

We’ll be returning to and expanding on the topic of mind-body unity quite a lot in the oncoming posts. Meanwhile, relax, stay safe, and see you soon


The Interplay Between Stress, Inflammation, and Emotional Attention: Relevance for Depression. Viktoriya Maydych. Front Neurosci. 2019; 13: 384