The Sympathetic Nervous System
It is common for athletes to spend many of their waking hours with the sympathetic nervous system activated. This side of your nervous system is commonly termed as “fight or flight”. One of its main functions is priming the body for action.
Athletes tend to be action-oriented people ready to compete and perform anytime, anywhere. Being ready to take action is an important part of achieving results, but so is staying balanced.
Parasympathetic Nervous System
To achieve balance the parasympathetic nervous system needs to be activated. The main function of this side of your nervous system is to allow you to recover and regenerate. We all know taking time to recover is important, but often ignore this fact.
Because of this many athletes find themselves physically fatigued and mentally exhausted by continually being “on”.
Yoga Nidra is known as yogic sleep. In essence it is a form of guided meditation that engages the parasympathetic nervous system through heightened body awareness and attention to the breath.
“Yoga Nidra provides a way of contacting and resting within Pure Awareness as it exists beneath the waking and dreaming/imagery states of mind.
It involves guided practices that gently draw one’s attention inward, through various aspects of body, breath and being. This progressive inner attention invites the activity of the mind to gradually still along the way, while going ever deeper toward conscious deep sleep.” – Jennifer Piercy
A few of the benefits that people can experience with a Yoga Nidra practice include:
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Improved sleep
- Heightened energy levels
The following is a short 18 minute Yoga Nidra session.
For this practice find a position where you are at ease, that will be restful for the length of the class. Many chose to practice in a classic savasana pose, but feel free to choose a different position that will allow you to relax.
This Yoga for Swimmers article is brought to you by Swimming-Specific Yoga the world’s top resource for online yoga classes and content designed for swimmers and multi-sport athletes.
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