Doing Your Best Work – While “Asleep”

posted by Leila Cranford

Our modern western world is becoming increasingly aware of not only the benefits, but the absolute necessity, of rest.  Accordingly, rest is big business – technologically advanced mattresses, saltwater flotation pods, couple’s massage – but we wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s our most productive time.  But consider this invitation:

I’d love for you to spend a couple hours with me, most of that time in savasana, and get more done in that little space than you likely would in an entire day… or more.

Still reading?  Good!  (Picture me gleefully rubbing hands together)  Allow me to tell you about the not-so-modern practice of yoga nidra, or yogic sleep.  Let’s first get this out of the way: we won’t be sleeping  (#sorrynotsorry).

Let’s start first with the idea of intention.  By definition, an intention is something that we intend to do, though – and in yoga nidra, we want to bring that into the present state.  Not another thing on your to-do list, not a wish-upon-a-star.  Try this:

  • Close your eyes, and take a moment to reflect upon something you might set as an “intention” in class. Form it in a sentence.   For me today, it might be “I will save more money.”
  • Now, take that statement and rephrase it as if it were your current state of being. Eyes still closed, really embody that state of being.  “I will save more money” becomes “I am financially secure”.

 

See the difference?  It’s difficult to describe that energetic shift, but you can feel it.  That’s because yoga nidra is an experiential practice, not theoretical or philosophical.  That’s the change in mindset we want to cultivate.  We are going to call this sankalpa, the Sanskrit word that describes that mindset. Combine that with the fact that a 30-minute yoga nidra practice is equivalent to 4 hours of sleep in the theta stage, where the brain slows down significantly from what we commonly experience in day-to-day waking life.   How’s that for productive?

During my yoga nidra workshop, we’ll move through interactive exercises to set/refresh your sankalpa.  We’ll practice asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques) to prepare ourselves physically and energetically for yoga nidra – think gentle movements, opening the body, releasing tension, and bodily/spatial awareness.  The highlight of our time, of course, is yoga nidra itself – a kind of “sleep” that is, ironically enough, one of the most eye-opening experiences you’ll have.


Sign up for Leila’s Nidra workshops at Highland Village

Leila teaches yin yoga and meditation at Inspire Yoga, and is a lead trainer for Inspire Yoga’s 300HR Advanced Training Program. When she’s not doing that, she’s usually mom-ing, researching, rock climbing, hiking, loving her cat despite “not being a cat person”, hammocking, or indulging in a serious love of food– in particular, dark chocolate or phở (but never at the same time, don’t be silly).

Despite a lifelong love of reading and earnest attempts at every style of writing know to man, she’s not really a writer. But she’s a thinker, and she’s a lover of people, and believes in the healing power of relating through shared experiences. What she shares on this blog might be about mindfulness, maybe movement, maybe fear and discomfort…but always about the whole human experience.

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