Written by Julie Lusk
Yoga Nidra is an empowering meditation method that starts with relaxation. It provides a method to systematically change brain wave states, lowering beta and increasing alpha, theta, delta and gamma for the better.
Here’s what can happen during yoga nidra:
- During stage one, physical relaxation, stress is reduced causing beta brain waves to lower considerably.
- In the second stage, abdominal breathing produces a rise in the “feel good” neurotransmitter serotonin as shown on EEGs. Alpha, theta, and delta brain waves also increase. (Fumoto, et al., 2004).
- The third stage of yoga nidra promotes alpha brain waves. During this stage, mental and emotional balance and mindfulness are the focus. Mindfulness stimulates all 9 functions of the frontal cortex of the brain, promoting memory, concentration, and problem-solving while reducing anxiety and depression.
- Intuition and creative solutions are associated with theta, the fourth stage of yoga nidra. Anandamide, the “bliss molecule” inhibits the formation of cancer cells. Yoga nidra is happening when the brain is in delta, yet one remains aware.
- In summary, yoga nidra produces low beta, increases and balances alpha and theta, and produces high delta. The body changes as the mind changes. Yoga nidra literally changes the ‘fluctuations of the mind’ by slowing down brain wave fluctuations.
Beta – Oscillates at 13-25 Hz
Beta at 13-15 Hz reflects the conscious, thinking mind and the waking state. It’s required for processing information and for linear thinking. Normal levels of beta are good. Low beta, from 13-15 Hz is associated with the body’s housekeeping duties. High beta, from 15-25 Hz, is linked to thinking. Stress results in abnormally large amplitudes of high beta that produces anxiety. High beta is also associated with “monkey mind.” It produces high levels of cortisol and adrenaline and many adverse reactions in your body. Fear and anxiety produce high beta. It inhibits many beneficial cellular functions. Your body ages much faster when your brain is bathed in high beta waves. It’s important to know how to keep beta brain waves in check.
Alpha – Oscillates at 8-13 Hz
Alpha is an optimal state of relaxed alertness. All brain wave levels of the mind are integrated by connecting the higher frequencies – the thinking mind of beta and the associative mind of gamma – with the lower frequency brain waves, which are theta and delta. This allows a flow of consciousness. The alpha state disappears when experiencing fear. A truly integrated person generates large amplitudes of alpha.
Neurons in the brain’s hippocampus also fire in the alpha range (4-12 Hz). The synapses in the learning and memory circuits of the brain are enhanced at 10 Hz.
Alpha increases levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
The alpha frequency of 10 Hz results in significantly increased synthesis of DNA molecule (Takahashi et al., 1986)
Heart coherence is associated with increased alpha brain wave activity. It is a state in which the interval between heartbeats is regular and constant. It produces “an orderly and harmonious synchronization among various systems in the body such as the heart, respiratory system and blood-pressure rhythms,” as reported by HeartMath. It’s produced by positive emotions such as love and compassion. Negative emotions disrupt heart coherence.
Alpha tunes the brain to peak performance as well as facilitates gene expression and improves mood.
Alpha improves the immune system.
The expansive feelings reported by meditators after their regular sessions are not subjective assessments, they are objective biological facts that can be measured in DNA, neurotransmitters, and brain waves.
Theta – Oscillates at 4-8 Hz
Theta is characteristic of light sleep and dreaming. It is the dominant frequency of healers and people in highly creative states. Theta increases in people under hypnosis or in trances. (Kershaw & Wade, 2012).
Theta waves are found during DNA repair. It increases the activity of antioxidants.
Human cartilage cells are regenerated at the 6.4 Hz frequency.
Delta Brain Waves – Oscillates at 0-4 Hz
Delta is characteristic of deep sleep. Very high amplitudes of delta are also found in people who are in touch with nonlocal mind, even when they’re wide awake. Meditators, intuitives, and healers have much more delta than normal.
When our brains are producing delta, we are enriching our cells in a frequency that has the potential to produce a whole gamut of beneficial physiological changes at the level of our cells, from growing our telomeres and boosting GH levels to regenerating our neurons and sweeping our brains clear of beta-amyloid plaques. This is what happens during yoga nidra.
Growth hormone secretion is at its highest when delta waves peak in the brain. Growth hormone repairs and regenerates cells. It is associated with the immune system, bone mineralization, muscle mass, fat breakdown and protein synthesis, growth and regeneration of all internal organs and homeostasis.
Ahmed and Wieraszko (2008) took slices of the brain that governs memory and learning. They found that a very low delta band, 0.16 Hz, increases activity in the synaptic connections between neurons in the hippocampus. This suggests that memory and learning may be enhanced by delta activity.
Beta-amyloids are sticky plaques between neurons in the brain, characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease (Kang et al., 2009). They found that during sleep, when brains are primarily in theta and delta brain wave states, beta-amyloid production in the brain stops, and toxic material is cleared away. The effect was even greater during the delta brain wave state.
The ends of chromosomes have stretches of DNA called telomeres. Telomeres protect our genetic data, cause cells to divide, and affect aging. Telomeres normally shorten each time a cell divides. The resonant peaks for 10 telomere sequences clustered around a frequency window of 0.19 Hz and 0.37 Hz (delta). Other frequencies did not affect telomerase (Cosic, et al., 2015). Meditation preserves and increases telomere length.
Delta brain waves are seen on EEGs when people are having a sense of connection with the infinite. Anandamide, the “bliss molecule” inhibits the formation of cancer cells.
Delta frequencies between 0.5 Hz and 3 Hz stimulate the regeneration of nerve cells (Sisken, et al., 2007).
Gamma – Oscillates at 25-100 Hz
Gamma is associated with the integration of information from all the brain’s regions, as well as with coherence as they all synchronize (Gray, 1997). It’s associated with flashes of insight, performing difficult tasks perfectly. Meditation increases gamma.
At the gamma frequency of 40 Hz, beta-amyloid decreased by half. zHz
A frequency of 75 Hz is epigenetic, triggering the genes that produce anti-inflammatory proteins in the body (De Girolamo et al., 2013). At 50 Hz, results in the body increasing its production of stem cells, the “blank cells” that differentiate into muscle, bone, skin, or whatever other specialized cells are required (Ardeshirylajimi, & Soleimani, 2015). At 60 Hz, expression of stress genes (cortisol) is regulated.
References: Much of this material is from Mind to Matter by Dawson Church, PhD. Hay House, 2018.
Julie Lusk, MEd, E-RYT 500, is a Hatha Yoga Nidra Ambassador. She has more than 35 years of expertise in stress relief, yoga, relaxation training, guided imagery, and meditation as an international author, recording artist, and workshop leader. Julie is the author of Yoga Nidra for Complete Relaxation and Stress Relief, Yoga Meditations, two volumes of 30 Scripts for Relaxation, Imagery and Inner Healing, and Desktop Yoga®. Her audio downloads and CDs include Wholesome Relaxation, Power of Presence, Yoga Nidra Essentials, Blue Moon Rising, and many others. Learn more at JulieLusk.com