Sleeping My Way Through Yoga
I'd not heard of yoga nidra until I moved to Vancouver.
I'd arrived in that beautiful city on the West Coast of Canada after leaving Australia, and the partner that had caused me all mention of heart and mind madness.
I was genuinely pleased to be living somewhere new with all sorts of opportunities ahead of me. But underneath it all, I was also feeling shell shocked from all the change I'd experienced, despite me being the one to incite it.
But that's the thing, when we change and plan everything to the point of micro managing our lives to the nth degree, we have little time left for rest.
Or should I say no time for rest because even when we're asleep it's not deep, and so we don't replenish.
Once I'd taken a month off to explore my new North Vancouver home and find work, I settled into a regular run of temp jobs in different offices across the city. It was fun getting to know new people, and I quickly learnt how Vancouverites spent their free time so differently in this yoga loving city.
And it didn't take long to make some good friends who thankfully introduced me to the books, chats and new activities I desperately needed in my life, to help me through the undercurrent of stress I'd been trying to plough through in my head.
Pushing through in the hope that time would heal everything. Well, we know that doesn't work on it's todd, don't we!
When I declared to one of my office friends that I was struggling to sleep because my mind was constantly racing through regrets, and all the things I kept telling myself I should have done, she suggested I join her for a lunchtime yoga class.
I explained that my experience of yoga told me that my heart always fancied it but that my body often regretted going, to which she explained, 'don't worry about this one, all you do is lie down on the floor, close your eyes and breathe.'
Well, that sounded about all my energy levels were up to at that time, so I agreed to join her.
In that first yoga nidra class, we spent 45 minute doing exactly as she described: the teacher guiding us through a conscious exploration of our bodies in what Tim Rowe explains in his online Yoga Nidra as a 'rotation of consciousness', which is exactly what it was.
The teacher literally provided cues for us to move our conscious awareness around our bodies to deepen the letting go of every body part with every rotation. From back to front and back to front.
The sense of relaxation was immense.
There was also some counting going on, in reverse apparently, but I was only aware of this after the session I went to with Tracy because she asked me afterwards what number I'd reached during that session and I had no idea what she was talking about.
I had clearly fallen asleep.
And I tell you, that 45 minutes provided more relaxation than I'd had in about six months prior to going.
It did wonders for my stress levels, reduced the tension that I was holding onto which was horrifically tense in my jaw at the time, and it relieved the headaches I'd been experiencing.
The sense of release through Yoga Nidra was wonderful for my needs then and has been ever since.
And so, it's no surprise that the word Nidra comes from the Hindu tradition where Nidra is worshipped as the goddess of sleep. She is said to support worshippers to move through insomnia, fatigue, tiredness and all the side effects that come along for the ride, such as lack of energy and concentration.
That first yoga nidra class I joined, marked the beginning of a new relationship for me with yoga. It eventually led me to jet off to India a few years later and train to teach yoga myself. And it was no surprise that the tantric yoga I learnt was not only steeped in Hindu tradition, but it was deeply relaxing and releasing also.
My favourite phrase from the tuition that I still use today:
Let go and relax!
And so, sometimes, the times that are tough bring about gifts that bless us beautifully right there and then, and they help us as we continue to bloom into our new future even if we can't see it at the time.
A blessing that just keeps giving.
Tim Rowe's Yoga Nidra is my go-to guided recording for when I'm at home, and it has been for years now. But we are all different, especially when it comes to how our senses either tune into something that resonates or reject something that we repel. I have tried other recordings where the person's voice just doesn't sit well with me, but their tone might suit you. So, I suggest listening to Tim's recording as a starting point, and if it isn't quite for you, search for something else to soothe your soul in a way that does serve you.
And I hope you feel empowered to release what isn't serving you as a result!
In the meantime, stay well and remember to breathe!