It’s OK to relax…..

It’s wonderful as a yoga teacher and yoga therapist, when emerging research supports what I know and feel to be true for my body and mind.

There are different ways of learning and individually you many notice you respond better to one way over the other. I tend to learn best somatically, through doing and experiencing in my body. We can also learn visually and through listening. I digress, a little. We learn by taking in and then “trying on” the new knowledge. In this way we have a first hand experience to reflect on.

Emerging research on the vagus nerve, a major nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system, sheds light on how people can tune in to their nervous systems and find ways back to a “rest and digest” state amidst chronic stress. This research suggests actions involving parts of the body connected to the ventral vagus nerve— including deep breaths, humming, or even social cues like smiling or making eye contact with someone — send messages to the brain that it’s OK to relax.

Activating the ventral vagus nerve also activates the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that deals with logic. Calming yourself allows you to think clearly and process your difficult circumstances — which will further resolve stress.

Simple Steps to Reduce Stress (this is the doing part)…..

  • Pay attention to your body’s sensations. Notice your body’s baseline physical state when you’re calm so you can notice how stress changes your body and respond accordingly.
  • Focussed breathing, especially lengthening the exhalation promotes the rest and digest response.
  • Connecting to life through your five senses. Going outside, listening to birds, and smelling a flower are all simple “grounding” activities, which can help activate the ventral vagus nerve.
  • Smile. Make eye contact with someone on your walk, at the shops or in the mirror signals our nervous system that we are safe and it’s Ok to relax.

See full article for more details….

I am offering weekly iRest Yoga Nidra classes which are wonderful way to get familiar with how your body feels at rest and to notice the areas you tend to hold tension. These classes are currently free.

To register your interest to join (live via zoom or as a recording), email

Here is a simple breathing practice that focuses on gently extending the exhalation. Try it every day for a week and see if you notice any changes in how you meet each day.

Much love

Explore deep relaxation and understanding through iRest® Yoga Nidra

iRest® Yoga Nidra is a form of meditative self enquiry that stems from the ancient teachings of yoga. Within each practice we learn to pay attention to the various feelings, sensations, emotions and thoughts that are constantly changing within our body and mind. This is a mindfulness practice which has a calming affect on the nervous system helping to release physical tension and quiet a busy mind. We learn too, that the sensations we experience are messengers providing us with information; when we listen, we may come to a deeper understanding about ourselves.


We learn through iRest to meet, greet and welcome all that arises in our awareness. As we practice acceptance, we learn to meet challenging feelings, emotions, thoughts and memories with a more relaxed response. As we practice acceptance, we don’t “get stuck” or fuse with our experience and therefore move beyond it. We learn to respond, rather than react to life.

iRest offers deep relaxation and can be helpful in managing stress, fear, depression, pain, insomnia and trauma. It is practiced in a comfortable position (usually lying down) and no previous yoga experience is required.

I have included a short iRest practice below. Allow 20 minutes where you will not be disturbed, find a comfortable seated or lying position using cushions and blankets as needed.

If you are interested in exploring iRest further, I run a regular 6 week online course.