I couldn’t help but feel a kind of traveling yoga teacher kinship with Timothy as I read his post from yesterday Autumn, Healthy Aging and the Ayurvedic Dosha Vata! My September and October are so packed with stuff (mostly all good and exciting, but just a lot!) that I have found myself feeling ungrounded as well. On my recent teaching weekend in Montana and Wyoming (big, dry, windy places!), I would even say a bit of anxiety crept into my mind and body. In addition, a 6:00 am flight had me feeling pretty tired at the start of things as well. I considered doing my usual asana practice, but then my intuition suggested another path: sitting meditation. So I did just that. For the next four days, I meditated for 20 minutes, twice a day. And quickly, I began to feel more rested and mentally grounded than I had for weeks.
But there have been other times when I have been so wiped out and frazzled that even sitting meditation seemed like too much energy to expend. Fortunately, I had another tool in the old yoga toolbox for just such an occasion: yoga nidra!
We’ve introduced this practice before, but this seems like a good time of year to re-introduce it and remind you of its possible benefits for anxiety. One hallmark feature of an anxious mind is the tendency to have urgent, repetitive thought patterns full of worry and fear that are hard to turn off. This leads to difficulty concentrating on normal everyday tasks or anything else for that matter, trouble focusing on communication with others, and perhaps most troubling, difficulty relaxing mentally and physically enough to get good rest.
|Marsh by Brad Gibson|
And even though you are trying to stay awake in yoga nidra, if you do fall asleep for part or all of the session, you get a well-deserved nap. The more regularly you do the practice, the more likely you are to stay lightly awake and reap the benefits of the “relaxation response” we have written about elsewhere. Usually, yoga nidra is taught live by a teacher who guides you or a class through the 20-45 minute practice, or you can find many recordings of yoga nidra that can serve the same purpose. I have two loaded on my smart phone (from Richard Miller and Rod Stryker), so I can do yoga nidra anywhere I happen to be, including on an airplane, despite having to do it sitting up! And for those who may have forgotten or did not know, we have a short yoga nidra available for you to try right here on the blog (click on the Audio Tracks tab at the top of the page).
And to my lovely student, Bobby, in Redlodge MT, I will do my best to record a full-length yoga nidra this fall for all of you try.