Intro: You're listening to The Prana + Patchouli Podcast with me, Amy Davies. I'm a restorative yoga teacher and every week I'll be sharing practice tips, spiritual tools, breathwork and guided meditations to reduce stress and raise your vibration. If you haven't already, be sure to hit subscribe, so you never miss an episode.
How do you feel about rest? I think we’re all feeling the pull - even if we resist it - towards more time and space for rest. It’s vital to us thriving in today’s world. Rest is when our body naturally heals itself - from the inside out. But if it can’t do that, you not only feel ill, but you also feel blocked. Your aura is weakened, which diminishes your presence and your power. So, how can we honour this need to rest? Sleep is the obvious time when the body naturally has a chance to repair, but it isn’t the only type of rest.
There are seven types of rest as outlined by Dr Dalton Smith in her book, Sacred Rest.
There’s physical rest which is all about releasing stress and tension from the body, and we can do this through sleep, as well as napping, or restorative practices.
Then there’s mental rest which is all about giving your brain a break, relaxing the focus of your mind from thinking too hard, and we can do this through meditation, or walking in nature.
And there’s sensory rest which is about unplugging from technology and the world itself. It’s kind of like that idea of Pratyahara in yoga, withdrawing our senses and distilling the outer world.
Then there’s creative rest which is about allowing yourself to be surrounded by art, beauty and inspiration, and just feeling the awe and wonder of life, whether you’re creating something or not.
There’s emotional rest which is about giving ourselves permission to express our feelings fully, honour them, and really give them space in our lives.
Then there’s social rest which could be about spending time alone, and especially if you’re someone who’s more of an introvert like I am, that time alone can be really sacred, when you’re unplugging from other people’s energy, and at the same time, it could be spending time with people that uplift you and support you with positive energy, rather than those that drain you.
And finally, there’s spiritual rest which is all about belonging, love and finding a sense of meaning and greater purpose in the world.
All of these types of rest are needed to recharge us and help us to heal - at mind, body and soul level.
To help you realign your energy, health and body, in this episode, I want to look at rest through the lens of yoga and share a powerful practice that gives us the gift of receiving those seven types of rest that we just talked about, and that’s Yoga Nidra.
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep”, is a deeply relaxing, meditative practice where your body falls asleep, but your brain stays fully conscious and aware. You hover in a subtle state, somewhere between wakefulness, sleep and dreaming.
It helps us to reprogramme the nervous system, release physical tension and stress, slow down brain-wave activity, and spend time with our soul.
And, while we are all in desperate need of rest these days, one thing that I’ve observed as a yoga teacher, is that we’re also seeking connection to our inner knowing, and crystal clarity on our purpose in life.
Yoga Nidra offers all of that - with a little bit of mystery! It’s said to lead us to the highest state of spiritual freedom (moksha). It’s traditionally practised in everyone’s favourite pose, Savasana, but you can also take a side-lying pose, restorative pose, or anything else where the body feels fully held and supported. While it may just look like you’re sleeping, there’s so much magic happening below the surface!
You get to rest deeply and expand your capacity to be held and supported. You can see where you’re stuck in repeating patterns. You become more peaceful and intuitive. You can find crystal clarity, creativity, and self-knowledge. And perhaps most importantly, you awaken to the magic within you, and the light of who you truly are.
Yoga Nidra uses various techniques including a supportive posture, breathing, intention-setting, systematic relaxation, visualisation and meditation to relax physically, energetically, mentally, into your intuition and finally, into your own sweet state of bliss.
I want you to experience this for yourself, so if you can practise with me now, let me guide you. Hopefully you already have all of your props with you, and you have a quiet, safe space to practise in. But as we practise together, be the witness of how your mind wanders, and then gently and lovingly guide it back to the sound of my voice. If you fall asleep, don’t worry! While that’s not the goal, the practice will still work, as it nourishes your subconscious.
Begin your practice by lying comfortably on your back. If that’s not comfortable, you can choose an alternative posture, like lying on your left side, or in a restorative pose, like Supported Butterfly. You can cover yourself with a blanket if you’re cold, and to enhance the effects of relaxation, you can also support yourself with a bolster, or rolled blanket behind your knees, just to make your lower back a little bit more comfy, or if you’re lying on your side, a bolster, or folded blanket in between your knees. You might like to place a pillow, or another blanket folded behind your head, and then create a nice neck roll to fill the space between your neck and the floor. It’s really important to support the neck so we can relax fully and deeply.
Close your eyes. And right away, begin to feel your energy and attention drawing a little bit deeper inwards, so that the world becomes further and further away. Notice your breath. Take a couple of deep inhales and exhales, seeing if you can make those exhales just a little bit longer than your inhales, emphasising that exhalation. Now it’s time to set your Sankalpa, a clear intention and concise reflection of the energy you’re centring into right now. Let it reflect your soul’s deepest desires. This could be something like: “It’s safe for me to rest”. Whatever is meaningful to you in this moment. Silently repeat that three times to yourself, believing it to be true, somewhere inside you. Just take one more inhale here, sealing that in. As you exhale, sigh it out, offering it up.
Now we’ll begin a body scan. There’s no need to move. Just bring your attention to each part as I mention it, and remain still.
Begin by bringing your awareness to your toes. Soften and relax your toes and your feet, your calves, your knees and your thighs. Pause at your hips. Feel your whole pelvis soften, getting heavier as it relaxes into the floor. Now bring your awareness up to your belly. Soften and relax your belly, your lower back, your chest (and emotionally, your heart as well). Feel your upper back and shoulders soften and relax, and then allow that sensation to travel through your upper arms, forearms, hands and fingers. Soften and relax your neck, your throat, your jaw and your forehead. Let your whole face - your eyes, ears, mouth and nose - soften and relax. Now feel your skull and the crown of your head soften and relax as well. Your whole body is soft, relaxing into the support below you.
Feel the stillness and peace. And just allow yourself to listen.
Trust that any wisdom that comes through is exactly as it needs to be.
Allow yourself to rest here, in your own sweet state of bliss.
Now slowly begin to deepen your breath. If you’d like to stay here and rest a little longer you can. Otherwise, mentally prepare to return to ordinary consciousness. Remind yourself of your intention once more, knowing that it’s safe for you to rest.
To come out, send tiny flickers of movement through your fingers and toes. Take one last deep breath in and a full body stretch, reaching long through your arms and legs, and then just allow everything to drop and rest where it is in space. When you’re ready, take your time, hugging your knees into your chest, rolling over gently to your right, and leading with the heart there on the left, as you make your way back up to a comfortable seat. Move as though you have all the time in the world.
This may have felt like taking a long nap, but you’re still awake. You’re rested as you’re able to quiet your mind and come to a blissful place.
Use this practice whenever you feel exhausted or stressed. I know this one saved me when I was recovering from burnout.
But I hope this practice inspires, awakens and nourishes you. I hope it helps you remember the limitless magic that exists within you.
Whenever you need a reminder, say to yourself: “It’s safe for me to rest”.
Take that mantra with you, and next week, we’ll be talking about holistically healing stress and our spiritual anatomy, or the 5 bodies (koshas), which we also transition through in Yoga Nidra to come home to ourselves, so make sure you tune in for that.
Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you back here next week!
Outro: I really hope you loved this episode of The Prana + Patchouli Podcast. If you want more support and inspiration for your practice, then be sure to join our community of seekers, feelers and dreamers, by signing up for my weekly emails at pranapatchouli.com. You’ll also get my free mini retreat to help you stress less and restore peace right away. I’ll be back next week with a brand new episode, so until then, from my heart to yours, Namaste.