It was easy to “do nothing” when I was on retreat just one week ago. I was off the grid at a yoga retreat center on the beach near Todos Santos in Baja. Recovering from my fall, I didn’t even want to do anything except luxuriate in the quiet of poolside, or lose myself in the wild wind at the beach. From each breathtaking sunrise over the desert to each glorious sunset over the ocean, all I had to do was stare into space, read or nap. I let my mind and outside body rest.
But inside, I was doing the hard work of healing. At the physical level, my immune system was fighting inflammation and infection, reconnecting the displaced roots of my front teeth and repairing the broken blood vessels of my bruised body. That work isn’t over yet. And then, of course, there’s the emotional body work that still needs to happen.
It’s harder to “do nothing” now that I’m home and the responsibilities of my everyday life are right in front of me: dogs, cats, bills to pay, a sink full of dirty dishes. So, part of my practice now is going to be reminding myself that resting is an activity, that even if my most outer layer is seemingly at rest, a lot of productive work can still be going on at the subtler levels of my being.
Yoga philosophy describes five layers, or koshas, that comprise our physical, energetic, emotional, intellectual and spiritual selves. They all need attention. Yoga nidra is a yoga meditation practice that addresses all of these layers by guiding you into deeper and deeper states of relaxation. In a full yoga nidra practice, a facilitator guides you through breath work and body scans, and your brain transitions from a waking state, to a dreamless sleeping state even though you remain awake. The effects are systemically restorative. Yoga nidra is a lot to cover in one blog post, but follow the links above to get an introduction to the concepts, and try yoga nidra here: