Last summer, I found myself completely and utterly exhausted. As a yoga teacher with a business based on wellness, you would think I’d have my personal wellness plan figured out all the time. But I’m human, too, and fell into the trap of wanting to achieve more, work harder, play harder. And in my mind, I was eating all the “right things” and doing all the “right practices”, but the one thing I was not allowing myself to do was to slow down and to receive the benefits of those foods and practices through rest. In fact, like much of our culture, I was terrified to slow down, addicted to the crazy busy cycle of saying yes to too much doing and not enough yes to just being.
That’s when my body caught up with me and my adrenals gave the signal that I needed to slow down, and that no superfood or supplement would remedy this deep fatigue I was feeling. I needed to give myself permission to rest, and to rest deeply without guilt. Dr. Claudia Welch has a great anecdote about this very thing. She says, “When we’re hungry – we eat. When we’re thirsty – we drink. When we’re tired, we think…what’s wrong!”
But slowing down when you’re in a cycle of moving too fast is hard to do. That’s when I turned to a practice not shared often enough in the yoga world – Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation I feel is perfectly built for a culture that needs structure in order to feel at ease in slowing down. I started with 10 minutes, and for 40 days I scheduled in this structured time to deeply rest. Within a month, I began to heal my adrenal fatigue and find a more balanced, sustained flow of energy. It’s now an essential practice I can’t live without and cannot recommend enough for our modern world.
So what is Yoga Nidra? Nidra actually means sleep in Sanskrit. When following this meditation, it takes you past the dreaming stage and into a state of conscious deep sleep, where the brain waves function in theta state and healing of the nervous system, heart and mind take place. Because Yoga Nidra activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, it also has profound effects on supporting digestion and countering stress-induced insomnia. Through consciously relaxing the effort of body and mind, we learn to address stress in our waking states with more ease and direct the flow of energy more intentionally. On a deeper level, we use Sankalpa Shakti in this meditation to process and transform karma in our lives and manifest our deeper desires.
A regular practice can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. It’s even said that 1-hour of Nidra is the equivalent of a full night’s sleep, so consider a short afternoon practice the most powerful power nap you can take! The best time to do this meditation is in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, though anytime you can make space for this practice the benefits will be well received.
Ready to start your Nidra practice? I have created a series of guided meditations, recorded and mastered in studio with music, to guide you through this restorative practice. You can download the audio pack here!