Simply being, without any need for doing.
Discovering yoga nidrā was the welcome surprise of a one-to-one session with yoga therapist, Uma Dinsmore-Tuli in her and Nirlipta Tuli’s colourful yoga cave in Stroud, in 2017. Having newly begun a hatha yoga teacher training, I was unpicking my 20-year habit of dutifully following teachers’ instructions in classes and videos, seeking my own, less pedagogic practice, more authentic to my midlife body.
After some very gentle movement, Uma invited me to settle into a super deluxe five star savanasa – supported in a nest of bolsters, blankets, sheepskins and props, all tucked in – similar to this video (a menopause yoga nidrā for disturbed sleep and low mood). During the practice without movement, she guided me into the state of awareness that is yoga nidrā: body deeply resting; mind alert and aware – with the intention of welcoming intuitive knowing in the body, to provide guidance and wisdom – based on our prior discussion about what I felt I needed. I left the 40 minute session feeling deeply nourished and rested, with an audiotrack recording of my personalised nidra that I have been listening to ever since, along with many other nidrās on the Yoga Nidra Network. It helped me cultivate and trust the intuitive wisdom of my body, and deepen my practice, for myself and as a resource for sharing yoga with women who are pregnant and postnatal in the Trust where I work as a midwife. It showed me how potent deep rest can be. It also prepared me for the huge shake-up about to happen in my life.
Gift of injury
I was loving teaching yoga. Until the weekly furniture-clearing and solo heaving of trunks of yoga equipment for class left me with a ruptured vertebral disc at the end of last year – in constant pain, unable to move normally, work and practice or teach asana-based yoga. I recently had spinal surgery, which I’m optimistic has addressed the nerve impingement and my body is doing its best to recover and adapt. Yoga nidrā has been a lifeline, solace for the pain and emotional challenge of back injury – by being able to welcome difficult sensations, they have become more manageable and acceptable.
One of the gifts of injury and this time off midwifing and teaching has been my exploration of yoga nidrā – not a technique or skill, but rather an effortless state of being that we can access with practice, a type of ‘yogic sleep’. On this intensely restorative 6-day course with Nirlipta Tuli: Self-Care: Deep Work with Advanced Total Yoga Nidra (part 1 and 2), I learnt some tools to take myself into trance without an audiotrack or external guide, through counting and coherent breathing. I discovered how trance could be used for improvement, persuading myself to go into a different state of reality, to heal and to rest. The practices gave me a deep sense of peace, spending time in an expanded state, feeling connected to a great source of healing and power that is always available – as if just on the other side of a veil.
Yoga nidrā for pain
During the yoga nidrā practices we would be invited to rotate our awareness round the body, a gentle enquiry of how each part feels right now, allowing us to correct assumptions and relearn ourselves.
We would also be invited to experience opposite pairs of sensation, these could be simple eg. heavy/light, warmth/cold, and we would practice sensing and welcoming them, moving between them and holding both dualities together in awareness. This has proved to be potent for pain management. As if being able to hold two different things at the same time offers a way to transcend the logical rational mind, normal thinking goes on hold and is replaced by a sort of witnessing consciousness and equanimity: What am I if I’m not these feelings of pain and frustration?
When the pain following surgery was acute, I initially resisted coming back to normal consciousness after the blissful break provided by nidrā practices – like having to return early from a lovely holiday. But gradually I began to feel the effects beyond the practice, of hovering between two distinct places, or different states of consciousness, and to savour the transitory nature of certain experiences – even pain, sometimes.
Nidrā: the medicine of rest – an antidote to burnout
Seeing the benefits of this practice of radical rest for midwives, I’ve developed a 30-minute restorative practice as an antidote to burnout to share once I return to work and teaching. Having completed a yoga nidrā immersion course and 8-day Total Yoga Nidra Teacher Training, I want to incorporate nidrā into my yoga classes for pregnant and postnatal women. What other course would be possible whilst recovering from spinal surgery?: up to six uniquely crafted nidrās a day, interspersed with theory, philosophy and exercises – lying supported, deeply resting and nourished was an intensely empowering and healing experience. I’m grateful that my injury has allowed me the freedom to explore the openness of awareness that is yoga nidrā, and to share it.
Now offering a monthly nidrā session at Stroud Yoga Space, Nelson Street, Stroud, GL5 2HH
5.30-6.30pm, 1st Sunday of the month, from 7 July. £12. Concessions available.
In this session you’ll be accompanied into the effortless state of being that is yoga nidrā. As it’s adaptogenic, the practice gives you what you need.
- What might restored vitality be like?
- How would it be to enhance your creativity?
- What if you could access clarity and intuition?
- Would you like to feel deeply nourished and refreshed?
- How would you like to feel?
What might it be that you discover in your state of yoga nidrā?
Yoga nidrā is for every body – suitable for all.
Full details here
Tel: 07967 003916
Looking forward to welcoming you,
Oli (midwife, pregnancy and postnatal yoga teacher, yoga nidrā facilitator)