Protect Your Peace with Yoga Nidra
In episode #007 of The Prana + Patchouli Podcast, we explore the practice of Yoga Nidra, which combines the wisdom of yoga with relaxation techniques such as visualisation, breathwork, intention-setting and meditation to reduce stress and replenish your energy. Tune in to find out how to:
- Change your physical and emotional responses to stress forever;
- Heal anxiety and depression, cure insomnia, improve sleep, reduce pain and nurture self-awareness;
- Set a powerful intention that manifests into your reality; and
- Navigate the 5 bodies (koshas) to come home to your true self (atma) and protect your peace.
Press play or click here to listen now:
Yoga Nidra, which translates as “yogic sleep”, goes beyond deep relaxation to a place of natural peace and inner stillness which is incredibly healing. Lying in Savasana, you’re guided into a very subtle state between sleep and dreaming. It combines the wisdom of yoga with relaxation techniques that reduce stress such as visualisation, breathwork, intention-setting and meditation to replenish your energy.
Stillness sparks the connection back to your natural state of peace, so when life is busy and stress is causing chaos in your body, mind and heart, this practice has an instant soothing effect on your nervous system, as it activates the relaxation response.
While we might never be able to cure stress completely, Yoga Nidra empowers you with tools to navigate stressful situations and protect your peace.
The process peels back the layers of tension, physically and energetically and actually slows down your brain wave activity, drawing you out of the Beta brain wave state - where we dwell during times of stress and busyness - and into Alpha and Theta brain wave states, the frequencies of relaxation, intuition, creativity and healing.
And, when you devote yourself to a daily practice, you can even reprogramme your neural pathways, changing your physical and emotional responses to stress, so you can remain calm and centred - even in the midst of chaos.
Yoga Nidra has the power to heal anxiety and depression, ease stress, reduce pain, cure insomnia and improve sleep, nurture self-awareness and inspire wholeness in a way that will impact your life forever.
It’s no secret that I’m head over heels with Yoga Nidra for all of these things. But it wasn’t until I hit my knees with anxiety and adrenal meltdown a few years ago, that the practice found me. I was overwhelmed with work and exhausted - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was burnt out and my soul needed a nap.
Since an hour of Yoga Nidra is the equivalent of 4 hours’ sleep, I swapped my usual sweaty flow for Savasana and lying down on the floor (to ground me), snuggled under a blanket became my favourite place to be.
I’ve always loved practices that inspire me to live with intention and Yoga Nidra is one of them.
After you’ve arrived in your body, allowing all of your bones to relax and sink into the floor, you begin by setting a ‘Sankalpa’ which is a commitment you make to support your highest truth. This is similar to an intention - a positive statement, framed in the present moment - to remember and uncover who you really are. I like to begin mine with “I am” so that I can feel it coming alive in my body. But whatever your intention is, like a prayer, it’s personal, it’s yours and an answer to a deep inner longing.
When you sow the seed of your Sankalpa in your subconscious mind, anything that isn’t supportive can be pruned or weeded. You cultivate the optimum conditions for transformative change and space for the energy of your intentions to take root and grow.
Then, you allow yourself to soften as you prepare for deep healing and replenishment.
When I was recovering from burnout, my daily relaxation ritual allowed me to experience peace (which was my intention) - not just in fleeting moments, but as the truth of who I really was.
It’s also helped me ground my spiritual practice because there’s some modern day magic in the way that Yoga Nidra brings the teachings of the ancient yogis to life.
Yoga teaches us that we’re multidimensional beings, made up of five different bodies, sheaths or layers (known as the “koshas”). There’s the physical, energy, emotional, intuitive and bliss bodies. (If you want to dive deeper into these, check out my blog here.)
We experience stress holistically, so the koshas act as obstacles on the journey home to our natural state of inner peace and bliss - like layers of armour that are meant to protect, but instead prevent us from allowing our true selves (“Atma”) to be seen.
That’s why we often find it hard to relax! There’s a lot to mine through to find those golden nuggets of peace - so we need a practice that digs deep.
I’m going to guide you through a short and sweet Yoga Nidra practice now so you can embody everything we’ve talked about, reduce stress and protect your peace.
Find somewhere cosy you can lie down, covering yourself with a blanket if you’re cold. Lie on your back and let your ankles fall out heavily to the sides. Turn your palms up towards the sky, becoming receptive to the energy of the practice. If you haven’t already, close your eyes.
Start to feel your awareness dropping into your body. Let all of your bones sink into the floor. Take a deep breath in and exhale completely. Your inhales open you up and your exhales soften you even more. Loosen your grip. Give yourself permission to release and let go even further.
Set your intention here. Ask yourself: how do I want to feel?
Take a couple of big breaths here and feel your intention coming alive in your body. Then, surrender it to your practice.
Follow my guidance now and feel each part of your body, as I mention it. There’s no need to move, just allow yourself to relax deeply with every long, smooth exhalation.
Begin to soften and relax your toes, your feet, shins, calves, thighs and hips. Let any lingering stress or tension in your lower body flow out through your legs and away. Soften your lower back, then your upper back. Relax your upper arms, elbows, forearms, hands and fingers. Let any stress or tension in your upper body flow out through your arms and away. Soften and relax your belly and your chest. Relax your neck, throat and all of the muscles in your face. Any tension in your mouth, tongue, nose, cheeks, eyes and forehead melts away.
Notice how your whole body feels peaceful and serene.
In stillness, you can tune in to the wisdom available to you. Listen.
When you meet yourself here, in your own sacred space of inner peace and bliss, you’re connected to all the parts of yourself that you’ve been longing to know. It feels like home and this is where you truly belong.
Knowing you can return here at any time, begin to deepen your breath. Remember your intention and repeat it silently to yourself.
Gently, stir your body from this space of deep relaxation, by sending tiny flickers of movement through your fingers and toes. Circle your wrists and ankles. Take a full body stretch. And when you’re ready, feel your lips curling up into a smile and float your eyes open to the room.
I really hope you enjoyed this episode. Use this practice of Yoga Nidra whenever you feel stressed or depleted. It will restore your energy and protect your peace.
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