How Yoga Nidra Helped Me Find Peace Through Deep Rest

May 7, 2021

Over the past year, I have become hyper-aware of the impact that busy-ness has on my everyday life. At a time when we were forced to slow down, due to a pandemic that uprooted our lives and forced us to pause, my mind refused to slow down, my workload increased, and I became an educator who also had the added pressure of navigating home school for my 4 school-age children (and 2 toddlers). As a practitioner and teacher of yoga, I often arrived at my mat exhausted from the constant hustle and bustle of my day and, unable to find stillness and peace in a practice that I had come to rely on as a vehicle for my own self-care. When my Savasana went from 5 minutes to 20, I knew that my body needed more than movement and stillness…it needed rest.

After being introduced to Yoga Nidra several years ago, I explored the possibility of returning to it as a tool to heal the mental and physical exhaustion that caused me to live in a state of constant hyperarousal and very little rest. Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation that allows us to heal each layer of our physical, mental, and energetic bodies through deep rest. It’s not an active way of resting, like reading a book, watching your favorite movie, or indulging in a more active asana practice, but it invites you to honor your body’s natural urge to restore and rejuvenate by resting both your physical vessel (body) and your mental vessel (mind).

In order to set me up for success and increase the likelihood that I would engage in a daily Yoga Nidra practice, I spent a few days gathering the tools that I wanted to incorporate into my daily Yoga Nidra practice. This included my favorite crystals to use as touchstones during my practice, essential oil blends that I created, a lavender eye pillow, and a couple of blankets that I could layer to create a “cocoon” for my practice. I also used a couple of crystal singing bowls prior to my Yoga Nidra practice as a signal to my body that it was time to rest. Using guided recordings from my Yoga Nidra Teacher, Karen Brody, founder and creator of Daring to Rest Yoga Nidra, I grabbed my basket of Yoga Nidra goodies and headed to a quiet corner in my house to rest.

The effect of my daily practice was immediate, as I left my first session feeling like I took a refreshing 20-minute nap. The aches and pains that accompanied my near-constant physical exhaustion began to dissipate and I found that my anxiety levels also began to decrease. What I love about Yoga Nidra is that it was available to me anytime I needed it, not only when I had time to sneak into my corner to rest. I could engage in my practice while sitting in my chair during my lunch break, during a brief transition in my teaching schedule, or while I was sitting in my car waiting for my Target order. It was accessible to me whenever I needed it, and my body and mind reaped the benefits each time I carved out a moment in my day to engage in my practice.

Now that Yoga Nidra has become a tool that I can access to decrease my stress levels, lessen the impact of my anxiety, and tune into what my body needs, it’s a must-have in my arsenal of self-care tools that I rely on to keep me healthy and balanced. Here are a few of my 3 favorite tips to incorporate Yoga Nidra into your day:

Find a time in your schedule that you can consistently block out to engage in Yoga Nidra:

This was the key to my success, as I found a consistent 15-20 minute block in my daily schedule that I could block out to focus on rest. I put a daily reminder on my calendar and set up a 10-minute alert to give myself enough time to close out my workday and ease into my scheduled practice time.

Create a space that is easily accessible for you to practice at home or work:

One thing that I love about Yoga Nidra is that you can engage in your practice anywhere! I used a bookshelf to create a space for my rest corner, full of natural light from a nearby window and filled the shelf with beautiful crystals, singing bowls, my favorite smudge sticks, and an essential oil diffuser to create a comfortable, welcoming rest space. Having a dedicated space that I could access anytime was a total game changer!

Get comfy!

When I made the decision to begin a consistent Yoga Nidra practice, it was important for me to create a “Rest Cocoon” that would be a place of warmth and comfort! This included yoga bolsters, a stack of soft, warm yoga blankets (a weighted blanket would also be great), a touchstone (Amethyst or a Rose Quartz crystal were my faves) to hold in my hand or place on a specific area of my body that aligned with each chakra, and yummy lavender eye pillows that I could warm up for a few seconds in the microwave to add another layer of comfort when resting. To get the most out of your Yoga Nidra practice, select a few items that you can use to get comfortable and enjoy!

Developing a regular Yoga Nidra practice will certainly have an impact on your physical and mental well-being. Not only will you find inner peace and tranquility, but you will learn how to connect to what your body needs to restore and achieve the balance that we all desire.

Also by Erin: 3 Things I Learned From Keeping A Dream Journal

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Photo: Rodolpho Sanches Carvalho via Unsplash

Erin Starks
Holistic Wellness Coach, Erin Starks, M.Ed, RYT 200 supports women on their journeys to lead healthier, fulfilling lives through her wellness practice, The Soul Connected Mama. A self-described “Mama Whisperer,” Erin leverages her experiences as a mama of six to develop holistic wellness programs and workshops for women who have a desire to create soul nourishing practices that add massive value to their lives. As an Usui & Crystal Reiki Master, Erin also develops “energetic protocols” for her clients to address their unique areas of need. When she's not working, you can find Erin developing products for her vegan beauty care line, Miya Organics, or shopping for crystals at her favorite metaphysical stores with her kids in tow. Follow Erin on Instagram @soulconnectedmama17 and miyorganics.com.

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