If you’re anything like me, you may have a tendency to rush from one thing to the next…to overcommit yourself and your time to others. Sometimes my schedule is only packed back to back for a day or two. But often, this habit of booking my schedule tightly from one thing to the next lasts four or five days.
Finally, I’ll reach a time when I can relax and unwind. Frequently, I find that what my body craves the most is sleep to recover. So I lay down, crawl under the covers, and I’m out like a light. “I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow,” is all too often seen as a badge of honor. It says two things— “I’ve been busy,” and “My body recovered.”
But what if your body didn’t recover? What if it is still being deprived of the best parts of sleep because we’ve learned and trained our bodies to sleep despite poor sleep hygiene? What if it’s now doing everything it can to hunt for those different stages of consciousness throughout your day, since we didn’t provide what it needed overnight?
The truth is, our bodies and minds do best when they aren’t shocked from one state into the next. In the same way that most of us wouldn’t want to be awaken by having a cold bucket of water dumped on us, the mind doesn’t want to reach a point of exhaustion where is crashes into sleep as soon as your head makes contact with your pillow.
Yoga Nidra, otherwise known as yogic sleep, is a practice that leads us into a deep state meditation… a place where renewal and transformation are more accessible. It gently guides the mind towards the path of slowing down, disconnecting, and finding peace. It cares for the mind on a biological and psychological level by allowing the consciousness to travel from one wave length to the next gradually and with intention.
“So do I just get to sleep during class?” If that is what you need most in the moment, I won’t stop you. If you’ve ever taken a class with me, you already know that what is most important to me will always be that you listen to your body.
However, the ultimate goal of Yoga Nidra is a deep state of meditation, not sleep, in order to cultivate better sleep hygiene and access those recesses of our mind that habitually get shut down too quickly. To facilitate this, we will begin our practice with a short journaling prompt that will guide us towards forming our individual sankalpas, or intentions, for the evening. From there, a few minutes of gentle movement will release any extra tension or stress in the body before we come all the way down on our mats and journey into deep rest and relaxation.
A very special “thank you” to Annalise Larson, who wrote this post and will be leading this extraordinary event.