Intro to Yoga Nidra + Self-Practice.

I’ve been immersing through the topic of Yoga Nidra the last few weeks in my 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training and I’m surprised (and a bit embarrassed) that I really haven’t known much about it before diving in.

Yoga Nidra is a yogic sleep where you’re at a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. Think of the period right before you fall asleep where you feel you’re in that dream-like state but not actually sleeping. This state is typically induced by a guided meditation while lying down on your back in savasana pose.

This practice of yoga nidra often starts with the awareness of senses through the body and mindful breathing which triggers the relaxation response or the parasympathetic nervous system. The wavelengths in your mind begin to slow down to help find the middle ground between sleep and consciousness.

Yoga Nidra is different than traditional meditation which is done in a seated or lotus position with the goal of building mindfulness and awareness.

This practice can be done at home through guided audio recordings found on apps like Insight Timer or Calm. If you’d like to fully step away from technology for your practice, try the following strategy:

  1. Choose a clear intention.
  2. Lie flat on your back, with your arms stretched out by your sides.
  3. Close your eyes & begin to fully rest the body.
  4. Bring awareness to any sensations you feel through your body or breath.
  5. Begin to repeat the clear intention you chose in step #1 three times.
  6. Take a couple deep breaths, emphasizing exhalation.
  7. Repeat steps #4-6 as desired.

Gratitude + 4-7-8 Pranayama.

As I write this evening, I’m in the middle of cooking for a little dinner get together with a close friend. I’m having to double-up tasks from my to-do list lately because my cup is overwhelmingly full. I wouldn’t have it any other way at the moment because everything I’m currently investing my time in, I truly love to do. I also know that my schedule wont be like this forever and during the holidays I usually take a step back to relax.

All that being said I’ve also noticed, as grateful as I am with my life, I’ve been consuming myself in negative thoughts at times. Its as if I don’t allow myself to just fully enjoy where I am at. My schedule is filled with self-care, teaching yoga and fitness, working full time as a Digital Marketer, and spending a majority of my free time investing in my close relationships with friends, my partner, and my dog. I’m grateful quarantine has allowed me the space to find out where I want to truly spend my time. But….

I find myself thinking of how things could go wrong & I know A LOT of us do this to ourselves. It’s as if we’re waiting for the bottom to fall out somehow. And this is not healthy! I was watching one of my online trainings for my 300 Hour YTT program last night and our lead instructor was saying how we need to be careful with what we’re manifesting.

Read that last sentence again.

Wow. This really made me stop and think. Because it isn’t just the good we’re looking to manifest (promotions, raises, good news) but our negative thoughts will also manifest situations that we may not want! And this is what I’m currently guilty of. I find myself pausing in moments & being overwhelmed with how much I love my life and then just as quickly have negative scenarios creep into my thoughts because “life can’t be perfect”. But, yes, it can! We can appreciate how much we enjoy our lives when things are really good. We shouldn’t feel guilty for being grateful and fear that it won’t stay that way. Change is definitely inevitable but we have the right to appreciate the moments we’re in.

So, if you’re like me, and find yourself feeling guilty for appreciating your life, I encourage you to pause and enjoy the below pranayama practice when fear is attempting to rob you of your momentary happiness.

Breath Work:

The following pranayama practice is one of my favorites to practice & teach. It is referred to as the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

  1. empty the lungs of air.
  2. breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds.
  3. hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds.
  4. exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds.
  5. repeat the cycle up to 4 times.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique can also help to decrease anxiety, sleep better, manage food cravings and control emotional responses like anger.