'Welcome home to yourself, welcome to the practice of yoga nidra’ - I remember these words clearly when I experienced yoga nidra for the first time with my teacher Uma Dinsmore-Tuli.
I was 30 years old, awakening into the healing power of my blood wisdom, reconnecting to my true self, and being welcomed to a place of stillness and deep rest, like nidra is, was exactly what I needed.
I had of course experienced yoga nidra before, throughout my 20s, listening to the voices of several teachers, but the most profound encounter was the one with Uma’s. I loved her use of sound and mantra too, it felt such a perfect complement to the practice itself. And I loved that Uma’s practice was permissive and fluid, it was so feminine.
It took me several years to fully embrace yoga nidra as a daily practice for healing and transformation, though. And it was only through the last trimester of my pregnancy that I finally fully surrendered into the practice. I believe this was one of the things that helped me to dive into the big surrender of labour and birth.
And then, when I landed on the other side of birth and I found myself reborn as very sleep deprived mother, yoga nidra became a necessity and my daily spiritual practice. The first 20 months of my early postnatal journey were marked by severe sleep deprivation and fatigue: there were times when I seriously thought I could have never got through the day! And I believe that without my daily nidra practice I could have possibly lost myself in postnatal depression. Thus I have a deep reverence and love for this practice and that’s why I share it in all my circles and in my 1:1 with women. It is one of the key practices in my life and work: learning to rest and practicing rest can have such a healing benefit on our overall mental and physical wellbeing, our hormonal balance and for a healthy menstrual cycle.
Generally I try to carve out between 10 and 30 minutes every day, since I had my son five years ago, to lie down and listen to a yoga nidra, focusing on a particular one for several days, sometimes weeks. I prepare the space with blankets and cushions, eye pillow, sheepskin: it really is one of my daily rituals.
It is like a reset button: if I don't practice it, I cannot function for the second half of the day (I normally do a nidra early afternoon and if I don’t, I can definitely feel it!). Things have changed over the years, adjusting to the chaining rhythms of my little one, to his naps, to the end of them, and then to the growing up etc. We sometime do it together, or he does it on me - which I find it really sweet :)
I love the inner sense of peace and quiet that each yoga nidra creates, the clarity and creativity that I often experience afterwards. I feel a deep and joyous sense of freedom in allowing myself to ‘just be’ for a while and to surrender into rest, and I am able to access new ways of connection within and without.
For me yoga nidra is like the Great Mother: she holds me and supports me in her nurturing embrace and gifts exactly with what I need every time - whether a little moment of silence and peace, a rest for my tired mama bones, finding a new idea, refining an idea, and more…it is a real treasure of a practice that I wish everyone to experience at least once in their lifetime!
If you are not familiar with yoga nidra, I invite you to try one. If you follow this link you will access a few free nidras by myself and a wonderful team of other teachers/practitioners. And I look forward to welcoming you to a live one soon!
So what is yoga nidra?
Yoga nidra is a state of awareness between wakefulness and sleep; it’s a profound, powerful and healing meditative practice that connects us to our true essence. It is a radical act of self-care and self-love, a nurturing experience of deep freedom within.
It can be practiced by anyone anywhere and at anytime by following some very simple general guidelines (like lying down or sitting comfortably, keeping the body warm, being in a dark room or covering the eyes to help the mind and the body surrender more easily into the practice).
It has many benefits such as lowering stress levels and tensions in the body and mind, relieving anxiety and depression, stimulating creativity, promoting profound healing, rest and relaxation and bringing you back ‘home to yourself’.
It is said that half an hour of yoga nidra equals two hours of sleep! This is a win win practice that can truly save us, as we go about in our very fast paced lives.