Yoga Nidra Meditation is One of the Most Natural Ways to Lower Cortisol Levels

Scientific research on the effects of meditation and yoga techniques has come a long way since they first became popular in the West many decades ago. This means we no longer have to settle for mystical language to describe these practices.

The Yoga Nidra meditation technique is a restorative yoga practice that has gained recent popularity, perhaps due to the numerous studies that provide evidence about its benefits.

One of Yoga Nidra’s benefits is that it reduces cortisol naturally, and this greatly reduces the effects of stress that is so common in the modern world.

An Ohio University Department of Psychology study on the effects of Yoga Nidra and other meditation techniques on cortisol levels found that Yoga Nidra meditation significantly reduced the stress hormone, cortisol.

Participants in the control group listened to an audiobook called Sherlock Holmes, a Study in Scarlet. Saliva tests revealed that the audiobook group had much higher cortisol levels at the end of the listening session compared to the Yoga Nidra group post-session.

Another group practiced a technique called Relaxation Response Meditation, in which practitioners relax one body part at a time and then focus on breathing. Each breath is combined with a repetition of the word “one”.

After the fourth session for each group, Yoga Nidra reduced cortisol the most. Relaxation Response Meditation was the runner-up. The audiobook came last.

What is Cortisol?

Your adrenal glands produce both adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol release is a function of your fight or flight system, and it’s released in response to stress. In the old days, a saber tooth tiger encounter would trigger its release. Your reaction to the threat, a fight or a sprint to safety, would be all you needed to prevent the build-up of cortisol.

Nowadays, much of modern life is perceived as a threat. Deadlines, fear of job loss, reading a newspaper and many other conditions trigger cortisol release, and there’s no major physical response to them. The lack of physical release causes cortisol to build up in your blood. Your life depends on naturally managing the cortisol levels in your body.

Symptoms of High Cortisol Levels

This is just a short list of problems that chronically high cortisol can cause.

  • Obesity: High cortisol leads to a diminished ability to break down carbohydrates and proteins and causes your body to store fat rather than burning it. It also increases appetite. Yoga Nidra meditation may actually do more to regulate your weight than more strenuous styles of yoga because of its cortisol-reducing effects.
  • High blood pressure: Normal cortisol levels help your body regulate blood pressure. High levels
  • Immune system problems, infections, illnesses: DHEA is another hormone produced by the adrenals. It fights the effects of aging. It increases sex drive, builds muscle, increases testosterone and estrogen, fights some diseases,  etc. An imbalance in the ratio of DHEA to cortisol can cause immunity issues.
  • Fatigue: Cortisol build-up can disrupt sleep patterns. It can also interfere with other hormones. Both of these can lead to fatigue.
  • Addictive behaviors & stress eating: High cortisol reduces the amount of serotonin available in your system. This can lead to addictive behaviors because one of the roles of serotonin is to let you know when you’ve had enough of a good thing. You may enjoy one or two beers and feel satisfied. If you’re stressed out, you may not have enough serotonin to stop you from getting completely wasted. If you’re eating, you may overeat.

Yoga Nidra Meditation is One of the Most Natural Ways to Lower Cortisol Levels

A number of meditation and yoga techniques have been studied to determine their effects on cortisol levels. Yoga Nidra is one that clearly reduces cortisol significantly. 

To experience the powerful stress reduction and transformational benefits of Yoga Nidra, sign up for your free Yoga Nidra course below.