yoga nidra meditation|yogi surprise

Self-Care Via the Practice of Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra may feel strange the first time you try it, but the echoes continue long after the physical practice ceases.

If you've never practiced yoga nidra, you're in for a real treat. It's believed that practicing this form of meditation for 45 minutes is equitable to 3 hours of sleep. The benefits will reverberate throughout the rest of your waking hours making stress more manageable and focus more obtainable.

Once you invite yoga nidra into your life, you'll probably wonder how you ever functioned without it.

An explanation of yoga nidra and how to practice it

Yoga nidra translates to "yogic sleep". It very well may replace that nap craving you typically find yourself having. It's a guided meditation that relaxes your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and allows your brain to go from the active beta state and transverse over to the more restful alpha sleep state. If you can relax enough, your brain may be capable of going to an even further state of restoration. And when things are really working, your brain is able to move all the way to the delta state of deep, restorative relaxation where the benefits of truly restful sleep start to kick in. Sounds awesome, yes? So how do you actually get there?

Begin your yoga nidra practice laying down

That's no surprise, right? There are various ways of enjoying yoga nidra. But first and foremost, you must place your body in the most comfortable relaxation-inducing state. Use bolsters, blankets, eye pillows, and anything else to help you get cozy.

Your job is to receive and allow yourself to be cared for and guided. Yoga nidra is growing in popularity. So finding a class near you may not be too difficult. But if it is, try the app Insight Timer for hundreds of thousands of meditations, including guided yoga nidra.

Your guide's job is to help you find the most restful state available to you with calming words offering you visuals and taking you on a journey deep within. The guide may also have you do some minor calming techniques such as briefly clenching the muscles of the face, arms, hands, legs, and feet. This allows your body to sense where it's holding stress and choosing to let go.

How long is long enough?

If 45 minutes feels a little overwhelming, begin with a 30-minute meditation and work your way up to 45. Thirty minutes is the minimum length of time to allow the body to surrender to a parasympathetic state.

The intent of yoga nidra intent is to help you inquire within and work through the subtle body to gain both awareness and a release of stress and anxiety. The intention you set for yourself is key and keeping it in mind as you travel through the guided meditation will allow you to gain access to benefits you may not have experienced in previous meditation endeavors.

Of all the various tools and techniques available to help us find relief from stress and feel more peaceful, meditation continues to rise to the very top in the benefits it offers. So if you are still finding it difficult to embrace the practice, maybe the specific practice of yoga nidra is the one you have yet to try, but can fully embrace. Let us know how it goes. We're all in this together.

Jnana yoga practice|yogi surprise

Why The Practice of Jnana Yoga Is a Necessity for A Happy Life

Have you ever heard of Jnana Yoga?

Me either. Or at least I hadn't until recently. A student asked about how to best practice Jnana yoga, and I had to admit I didn't know what it was. Once I did a little research, I got excited about exploring this practice. The yoga world is vast, and just when you think you've tapped into every piece of yoga philosophy there is, a whole different zip code shows up on the map.

Jnana translates to 'wisdom' or 'knowledge'. It's one of the four main paths of yoga and highly regarded as the most challenging to practice. Why is self-inquiry so tough? Why are we afraid of the truth and the pursuit of liberation from our untrue thoughts?

Jnana yoga throws down the gauntlet of Svadhyaya

To get on the other side of our egos, we have to be willing to invest fully in Svadhyaya, or "self-study". While it's true that most people like to talk about themselves, it is decidedly untrue that we like to explore our inner workings and implore honesty to rise to the surface and show us who we really are.

How can we embark on this daunting path? Questions. Lots and lots of questions. And meditating about our goals, passions, and reasons we are on this earth is no small thing. But without first taking the time to ask the questions, the hard ones, we can't arrive at the answers. We keep bumping up against that stubborn ego who wants to convince us that what we wish to believe is real.

How to start practicing Jnana yoga

First, take the time to journal about what your truths are. Dig in deep and ask the difficult questions. If you need a guide, you can start here:

  • Where does my ego hold me back?
  • What am I most afraid of?
  • What belief do I know isn't true, yet I hold onto for dear life?
  • Who could I become without that thought guiding me?
  • What is missing from my life?
  • Do I know my purpose?
  • Do I diligently speak with integrity? If not, why?

It's not that we want to lie to ourselves. It's a measured, calculated strategy of self-protection. But when we try to shield ourselves from what's really true, we wind up with an overactive ego that gets us in trouble.

Truth breeds humility. Humility is inspiring

Once we are willing to get really honest, we set ourselves free. Seeing the truth as only good news allows us to explore each crevice of our psyche and see ourselves with clear eyes. This will change our decisions, hopes, dreams, and earmark every action with clarity.

Practice yoga with candor and sincerity. If you have a shoulder injury, stay away from handstands and other arm balances. If your back hurts, either minimize the depth of your backbends or skip them altogether.

And if you've never read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, read it as soon as possible. The simple concepts in this text highlight such excellent strategies for getting to the heart of Svadhyaya and the practice of Jnana yoga. They are as follows:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Take nothing personally.
  3. Assume nothing.
  4. Always do your best.

Are you excited to practice today? Me too, very much so. We'll do the practice of Jnana yoga collaboratively. We're in this together.