Yoga Nidra: the power of rest
15 April 2019
The power of rest
Ever felt like having a complete break away from it all? We live in a 24/7 culture where being switched on and connected via our phone is king. So addicted, I am like this pretty much day and night! I can email and message clients, text friends, get online marketing done, take cute photos of my kids, listen to audiobooks, set my alarm all through my phone. This may sound familiar. Stress and overstimulation bring a huge range of symptoms: I have experienced and clients regularly complain of difficulty switching off at night, waking feeling sluggish, swinging between caffeine and sugar highs and lows, recurring pain issues, sore back, frozen shoulder, digestive problems, IBS, anger issues, a packed calendar with no down time and when you do eke out some space, don’t like what you find there underneath all the busyness, so back to the phone and doing….I could go on. Coming to class helps me and my clients a lot. ‘I just feel better’ is a phrase I often hear. But only an hour a week in class, it’s hard to keep that sense of calm and centre.
Nidra connects us with our true nature
We are human beings, not doings and yoga nidra invites us, in a safe and nurturing space, to come back to our true nature. When the busy schedule and stress fall away, there is a deep connection with calm and presence. We can often forget about this deeper calm, or have connecting there trained out of us. Yet this connection is there all the time. Just as the ocean is always still at its depths, so too are we essentially calm and spacious, kind and perfect, just as we are. When we connect with this healing space or aspect, we feel a whole lot better!
So how does yoga nidra do this (it sounds amazing!)? The practice of yoga nidra (yoga means union or joining and nidra mean sleep), offers the chance for complete restorative bodily relaxation. It melts away muscular tension, helps unwind patterns of holding and stress in the body and calms the mind into a tranquil state. There is nothing to do but snuggle down, get comfy and cosy and let yourself be guided. It feels great and can be done very easily, no mat is even needed.
Nidra feeds our brains too
During nightly sleep we experience a range of healing brainwave states that are essential for physical, mental and emotional health and wellness. We all know what it’s like the day after a disturbed sleep! Nidra enables us to experience these states in a short time so we feel restored and revitalised. I have practised yoga nidra very regularly since my first encounter during prenatal yoga in 2011. A 20 minute session does feel like I’ve slept deeply for a good hour! However nidra is not a replacement for sleep as we need to be in deeper states of consciousness for longer for the proper healing and processing to happen. Yet it can top us up especially when we feel depleted or exhausted.
Nidra soothes us
In yoga philosophy, there is this idea of having a number of aspects or layers to ourselves. Physical, energetic through the breath, intellect through our minds, higher connection with that deeply calm space and more. Yoga nidra soothes these aspects very easily and simply, undoing all the tension of stress, and instead, nourishing us, nurturing us in a safe space.
Nidra can heal us
It can help change your life into a more positive one.
The practice has a rich tradition of a number of sources. I first encountered Yoga Nidra adapted by Swami Satyananda Saraswati that he had adapted from a traditional Tantric practice of nyasa. It also draws from modern western practices of self help or improvement. However, across the variety of styles of Nidra, they all focus on settling and soothing the body, creating total muscular relaxation and give the mind over to this process. Whilst the mind is busy relaxing the body or counting the breath, it enables our awareness to deepen and in this state recoup energy, and experience the profound healing that is deep rest. It can be enough then, to simply rest. (Really? Shouldn’t I have to sit for hours with a calm mind or work at intense yogic postures to attain true enlightenment?) Possibly. However deep rest and the ability to induce it is itself a radical act! It is a huge change from our usual overstimulated and switched on state. When we are deeply resting, drifting between different creative brainwave states, we are enough. There is no need to define ourselves in terms of anything. We are present in varying stages of awareness. As we are in a trancelike state, there is the potential to sow seeds into our unconscious mind for change. Using a personal resolve or San Kalpa, a short positive statement in simple language, or by simply being open to what is, we can help ourselves in areas where we need support, for example, being kinder to ourselves, knowing and respecting our boundaries, not wasting energy on needless tasks or late night internet surfing; the list could be and is endless. Whatever part of our lives, busy and complicated as they are, a little ‘journeying inwards’ can bring huge benefits and contentment.
Nidra is adaptogenic.
It reduces stress response, restores balance into the body and mind. Nidra helps where we need it. So if we are tired and need deep rest, we most likely will fall asleep. Often you’ll hear a contented gurgle from the digestive symptom, as it relaxes into its proper function. When we need to realise something or find the solution to a problem, the answer can magically pop up, during or afterwards in an everyday moment or pause.
Yoga nidra is best experienced live.
In this way, I can hold the space and nourish you, providing a safe and comfortable place in which you thoroughly relax and draw from the well of life. I draw from each season so tufts, threads, twiglets and fragments of my experiences out in nature are woven together with what you need to truly nourish and nurture you. Good times are most definitely ahead.
To find out more about my Yoga nidra teaching and opportunities to experience it in person, click here
To listen to my Yoga Nidra for Springtime, click here
I am currently continuing my training and knowledge with the Total Yoga Nidra Network, with Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and Nirlipta Tuli. There are also some excellent free nidras you can access there too.
It is with great excitement that I will be leading deeply restorative Total Yoga Nidra immersion weekends with Nirlipta here in Glasgow starting in 2020. Watch this space!
With sincere gratitude to all my teachers whose guidance brings me along my path with joy x