We humans are upright most of the time. Our feet may be on the ground, but the rest of our bodies are stuck occupying chairs, couches or cars or walking from one place to another. Wouldn’t it feel radical to lie down during the day? Would it feel even more radical to allow yourself to enjoy it? Would you be worried that you would never want to get up?
These are valid concerns. We, in our culture, are very tired by nature and gain accolades for working hard or pushing through. Seldom do you hear someone say “Wow, I admire her, she just rests so hard. She makes space for herself even when others don’t feel comfortable with that.” So, it may be a common fear of most people that if they take a pause in the middle of the day they will become lazy or want to go to sleep.
I was in the same boat until I discovered the power of Yoga Nidra. I understood the need for mindfulness and stillness, but, nonetheless, I was not balancing my masculine and feminine energies very well. Both of these energies flow through everyone, no matter your gender identification. Masculine energies have a lot to do with achievement, independence, goal setting, accomplishing, and moving forward in life. These are very important characteristics to have and are an important part of evolution and innovation. Feminine energies are also vital and encompass ideals such as rest, creativity, nourishment, cyclical living, and community collaboration. Again, very important to have in your life.
The key to balancing these energies in our society, that is energetically very masculine-oriented, is to bring the feminine back into play. In fact, in her book “Wild Creative”, Tami Lynn Kent talks about moving from a foundation built entirely of feminine energy. She claims that the most balanced way of walking through life is to always remain grounded in the feminine, allowing it to reshape our expression of the masculine. Yoga Nidra is a fabulous container in which to incorporate more feminine energy in your life. In fact, Nidra Shakti, the goddess of sleep, is the overseer of the practice of Yoga Nidra.
One discovery that I have found in my work with Yoga Nidra is that the very beginning of the practice, often described as a settling, is vital in creating a container in which we can feel connected to the Earth and, therefore, a whopping dose of feminine energy. The settling portion of a Nidra allows the practitioner to transition from that external thought to a more internal awareness. Sometimes this is much easier said than done.
When we finally lie down to rest, we may have many to-do lists floating around in our heads. Not only that but interactions with others, expectations of ourselves and even difficult emotions can begin to surface once we take rest and become still. The settling here is vital, and if you are someone who has ruminating thoughts because of anxiety, it becomes the most important part of preparing your mind and body for any meditation practice.
Facilitators have many different methods in how they help their participants to settle in a Nidra. Usually, I make use of the elements as a very effective way to feel into the physical body and its ability to connect with the Earth, both as an element within the body and as the very ground beneath us.
As a practitioner of Yoga Nidra, you may need movement before heading into your practice so that you can create more space from your thoughts. This allows you to focus more on the Nidra right away, allowing you to really feel grounded into the physical body during the settling process. A gentle yoga practice or even just a short breath meditation can be quite effective. If you don’t have time for movement, no worries. You can invoke intentions in the form of simple words such as “surrender”, “let go”, “allow”, “welcome” or any other meaningful mantra to help you come into the space and create a reminder and safe container for yourself.
During sessions with my clients, I make sure that I create a safe container for them to settle into a deep and restful practice of Yoga Nidra. This means being responsive to their individual needs and responsible in how I use my words, ensuring that those who may have trauma don’t feel triggered. This first step in a Yoga Nidra practice, settling in, is crucial for grounding the body into the Earth and feeling the reverberations of feminine energy within. Nidra Shakti is here to help us rest and feel nourished, as long as we surrender in the settling and allow the practice to work its magic both physically and energetically.