Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yoga Nidra

There are so many different types of yoga- this may not be what you're expecting. No stretching, or downward facing dogs. At least not physically. This one is all in your head. =)

It has helped me SO much-- to feel peaceful and happy about my life-- that I wanted to share it with you.

First- a Disclaimer, and a Thank You to 2 friends who helped me discover and remember this amazing practice.
Disclaimer: I'm not a yoga teacher, or Hindu, or specialist who really has her head wrapped around Yoga. I'm just a person who has found something that works for me and wanted to share it.
And a Thank you! Karen first told me about this after she attended a... lecture? Informational meeting? Something like that. I was intrigued and bought a book from Amazon.

It comes with an audio CD and does a much better job than I can of explaining how to practice Yoga Nidra. Later, after I told my friend Danielle about how amazing this was, she kept reminding me, when I would tell her I was stressed out or having trouble sleeping, to try Yoga Nidra. Thank you, Karen and Danielle. =)

So what is it?
"Yoga" means awareness, and "Nidra" means sleep. Yoga Nidra is an awareness of sleep, or being conscious of sleep. As I practice it, there are two parts
1) The Help-Get-Into-Deep-Sleep part (which I'm not getting into today, but might in another post) and
2) The Help-Reduce Stress part that I am going to write about today.

Everything has opposites. And everything is made up of opposites. You can't have Up without Down, Good without Bad, Happy without Sad. If you want to embrace the happiness in your life, you need to embrace the sadness as well. Peace comes when you accept both sides.

In physics we have Newton's Third Law of Thermodynamics, which says- in part- that for every action there is an equal an opposite reaction. In scripture we are told that "there must needs be opposition in all things." In everyday speech we say "Opposites attract." This idea is everywhere, and learning to use it in my life has seriously helped reduce stress.

So! Here's how it works.

Pick something in your life that you feel stressed about. The commute? Abuse? Kids' messy hands? Dog hair? Your mother-in-law? Taxes? Anything will do, as long as it causes you stress. For this example, I'll use my recent inter-state move.

Find a quiet place where you can think and relax. Bed might be a good option. I often do this before going to sleep at night or first thing in the morning. Or the couch. Maybe a swing in the backyard. I use the bathroom more often than I should admit, because I can close the door and the kids know not to talk to me when I'm in "my office" unless they are bleeding or on fire.

Begin by telling yourself one bad thing about this part of your life. It can be anything. Small or large. Just so long as it's something you don't like about this part of your life.

Then tell yourself one good thing about this part of your life. Again, it can be anything. Small or large. The important thing is that you honestly feel like it's a good thing.

Now repeat- telling yourself another bad thing about this.
Then tell yourself another good thing.
Then another bad thing.
Another good thing.

Finally, look at the whole- good parts and bad parts included- all together.

Got the idea?

For my recent move, it might look like this:
One bad thing about my move is that I left most of my friends behind.
One good thing is that I'm closer to family.
One bad thing is that it cost a lot of money- I had to go into debt.
One good thing is that I have a really awesome ward (congregation) here that I'm a part of.
On bad thing is that we don't have so many pretty trees here.
One good thing is that there are mountains.

And so on. Until you run out of ideas.

Then I look at the whole move together. It has bad points. It has good points. It is the whole thing together. It's part of my life.

The point in Yoga Nidra is not to change things, but to see and accept them as they really are. This doesn't mean you might not go out there and change some things-- Heaven knows some things in this world could use an overhaul!-- but you can make those changes with peace in your heart instead of stress.

Try it! I think you'll be amazed at how peaceful you feel afterwards.

If you want to explore Yoga Nidra further, I recommend the book and CD by Richard Miller.
If you like this post, please let me know! =) If you like the blog, please subscribe! =)

3 comments:

Polly said...

This is something that is used in DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy, which, in my opinion, is very much based on eastern philosophy AND it is awesome.) Well...more or less it is. It is encouraged that one steps away from an emotional, stressful situation and simply observes what is. There is good. There is bad. There is happiness. There is struggling. Being able to see what IS in a situation, vs getting lost in the stress of it all, is very helpful. There are workbooks on DBT and it's skills at Barnes & Noble, and I'm sure on amazon.com too. Marsha is the name of the woman who started it all, can't rememeber her last name. Even if one doesn't have a personality disorder or mental illness, the skills can incredibly useful. I'm glad this is helping you!

Rebecca =) said...

=) Thank you, Polly! =)

Valerie said...

I've never heard of this, but sounds great! It's so easy to get caught up in stressful situations and feel overwhelmed and powerless. This is a great exercise to help see things "as they really are" Thanks for sharing!