Welcome to 2021.!? I’m not sure which punctuation to use. If 2020 taught me anything, it was the reaffirmation that we never know what comes next. The unknown is our constant companion and learning to embrace it, respond, and work skillfully with the way life unfolds is one of the great benefits of a yoga practice. And, to tap into the Rule of St. Benedict, this unfolding invites us to begin again, and again, and again.
To start off this new year here’s a little gift from me to you – a sweet yoga nidra practice for release and possibility. All you need to do is lie down (preferably on the floor), maybe cover with a blanket, close your eyes, and just listen.
Yoga – the art of uniting or dancing with complementary opposites – is paired with nidra, which means sleep. Yoga nidra is a practice that facilitates deep relaxation and transformation by taking the practitioner on a journey through the 5 koshas – or “sheaths” – of embodiment. The koshas are a map, a way of describing various layers of our experience.
Annamaya Kosha – The layer of the body. In yoga nidra we connect with this layer through a rotation of body consciousness.
Pranamaya Kosha – The layer of breath and subtle body. The next stage which is accessed through focused breathing.
Manomaya Kosha – The first level of the mind or mental body. This is the expression of waves of thoughts, processing data that moves in and out of our awareness. In yoga nidra this is practiced through imagery and alternating attention on opposite experiences such as heaviness and lightness, heat or cold, etc.
Vijanamaya kosha – The intelligence or wisdom body. On this layer of consciousness we absorb deeper insight into ourselves and the world. In yoga nidra this is accessed through a guided meditation. It’s a bit like dreaming, but here you are in control of the dream.
Anandamaya kosha – The bliss body. Here the witnessing experience of the dream dissolves and you rest in a feeling of wholeness and integration.
I confess I don’t practice yoga nidra as often as I could, or probably should. But when I do, WOW!
I hope this gift brings you a lovely bit a respite as you cross the threshold into 2021.
May the Grace of Love and Peace guide you in the days to come.