Scroll through any social media platform these days, and you’ll quickly run into autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos. These videos have proliferated across Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
But even if the term sounds unfamiliar and scientific, you might’ve had an ASMR experience before. Researchers compare the experience ASMR provides to the “aesthetic chills.” Think of it like the feeling of awe you get when seeing something particularly impressive or beautiful. You may have experienced tingles from a song, movie, or when you witness something spectacular in nature.
Here’s why the trend might be worth exploring, especially if you have the chance to take an ASMR yoga or ASMR meditation class.
What Is ASMR?
“Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a perceptual phenomenon involving a tingling sensation in the scalp or neck as a result of exposure to sensory triggers,” explains Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and certified yoga instructor.
Most ASMR is audiovisual. There’s usually a video of someone doing something that makes a pleasant noise. However, you can also experience it IRL — such as at a concert or when you hear a certain sound.
Manly explains that many of these videos involve whispers, taps, and hand movements. Although responses to ASMR differ from person to person, tingling on the scalp and neck is a common reaction. Manly says those pleasant tingles can spread all over the body in some people.
ASMR is popular enough that entire TikTok accounts, podcasts, and YouTube channels are dedicated to it. And, yes, it’s also being incorporated into yoga and meditation classes.
How Does ASMR Yoga Work?
ASMR yoga probably isn’t that different from other yoga classes you’ve taken. “ASMR yoga incorporates sensory triggers such as whispers, soft voice tones, singing bowls, and music into the physical yoga practice,” Manly explains.
Singing bowls are a common addition to yoga classes incorporating ASMR, even if these classes aren’t described that way. They’re also used in ASMR meditation practices (or classes that combine yoga and meditation). Sound meditation could also induce ASMR in some people.
How yoga teachers integrate ASMR into their yoga class may differ. Some may use singing bowls during the actual physical practice, while others may choose to add them during a meditative wrap-up. Leading yoga in a soothing whisper is a common way ASMR integrates into the practice in YouTube videos.
You may find that ASMR yoga classes calm you more than ones without this element. “ASMR techniques are utilized with the intention of adding another level of calming energy to a standard gentle yoga practice,” Manly adds. She says that since ASMR may help reduce anxiety and increase positive moods, incorporating it into these classes may result in a “more physically fulfilling yoga practice.”
What Are the Benefits of ASMR?
People who love ASMR swear it’s able to relax them — and research backs that up.
“Given that ASMR promotes calm, positive emotional states, many people feel soothed after an ASMR-triggering experience,” explains Manly. This sense of calm likely comes from ASMR’s ability to lower heart rate and increase positive feelings.
ASMR may help with sleep, but researchers are still exploring this. When paired with binaural beats (tones that encourage brain waves that happen during certain phases of sleep), ASMR helps people relax. But there’s no evidence that they can help you sleep on their own.
It is worth noting, though, that a particular sound or video isn’t guaranteed to cause ASMR in everyone. In one study, 20% of participants didn’t feel any warm, tingly sensations from ASMR videos. If you don’t respond to a specific sound, class, or video, that’s OK. It’s worth trying a different type of ASMR if you’re interested in the benefits.
What Are Good ASMR Yoga Videos to Try?
YouTube is full of ASMR meditation and yoga videos, ranging from short 15-minute practices to longer 45-minute to one-hour sessions.
It may take some time to find what type of ASMR you like. Singing bowls are very different from whisper ASMR. These videos are a good jumping-off point for figuring out the type and length of video that works best for you: