In her book, Daring to Rest, author Karen Brody, speaks to the growing epidemic in our country of doing too much, and the toll that takes on our bodies and in relationships. The causes are many – blurring lines between work and non-work, pressures to keep keeping up, devices infiltrating bedrooms – to name a few.
What else happens when burning the candle at both ends becomes our norm? We become less skillful resters. We often find it harder to wind down. We may even lose sight of how to effectively replenish our reserves, confusing increasingly lower quality sleep with something resembling as good enough.
This is why I teach Yoga Nidra. For those of you not familiar, Yoga Nidra differs from what we commonly associate with yoga (cultivating strength, flexibility and balance through physical postures). Nidra is a Sanskrit word for sleep. Yogic sleep is a member of the meditation family. It’s a state of deep relaxation with a trace of awareness commonly achieved through guided visualization done in a supported, supine position. It involves gently releasing physical, emotional and energetic tension. When we relax in this way, we slow down our brain waves. In turn, our sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze response system) takes a break and we enter into a state of consciousness wherein both our parasympathetic nervous system (natural caregiving system) and immune system thrive. Studies show one hour of Yoga Nidra offers the restorative benefits of four hours of sleep. That is, practicing Yoga Nidra is like taking a mega vitamin of replenishment.
Again though, for many of us, our resting skills are rusty. Our muscle memory for truly restoring is buried beneath years (perhaps decades) of habitual busyness. This is why I not only teach the practice of Yoga Nidra, but also view it as a critical and master-able life skill. It does take practice these days to refine our restorative capacities to levels where we can kindly slow down and release what isn’t useful, rather than crash from exhaustion. It’s possible though. Deeply relaxing while retaining awareness is not only a learnable skill but a skill we can, over time, excel at. As a training bonus, practicing to deeply rest through Yoga Nidra tends to feel good, really good actually. Just in the honing our ability we nourish our bodies and mind. We feel refreshed. We often feel more like ourselves, more attune to our heart wisdom.
In this spirit I invite you to treat your whole self with this feel-good and good-for-you practice – through Yoga Nidra learn to truly relax like a champ.
Check out my weekly Yoga Nidra drop-ins at Unfold. Private Yoga Nidra (for individuals as well as groups) also available. Head to the classes page for other stress-reducing offerings. Want to bring more ease to your work? Learn more here.