ALL ABOUT THE EDGE
Yin (or Daoist) Yoga is, on the surface, about learning to hold stretches, folds and twists for extended periods and watching, without judgement, how your body slowly opens and releases as you send your prana (breath energy) to those areas that are holding tension. Much more than that, it is an internal healing process, of the body, mind and soul!
You need to ensure that you are coming to an appropriate edge - one that is interesting and mildly intense, but not so intense that you hold your breath. The minute you hold your breath, the pose becomes anti-therapeutic!
Sleep is a key factor in our well-being and is something that can be difficult to achieve in our manic, fast paced, technology-driven lives. The various stages of sleep contribute to our mental state, anxiety levels, frustration thresholds, ability to concentrate and capacity to assimilate and retain information.
Yoga Nidra or “yogic sleep” is a meditative state that promotes deep relaxation and a strengthening of the mind body connection. Unlike traditional forms of meditation, the guided meditations of Yoga Nidra (called scripts) allow practitioners to alter their state of consciousness by bringing them to the very edge between wakefulness and sleep.
Practiced regularly, Yoga Nidra offers numerous benefits. One of the most important benefits is better sleeping habits; yogic sleep can help you achieve sounder, and deeper sleep. This could also include an improvement in sleep-related issues, such as chronic insomnia.
In Yoga Nidra, we seek to bring the mind to a place between relaxation and the dream state, and then to a state of stillness below the dream state, all the while maintaining awareness.
Most people will have experienced the sensation of falling or gently drifting off as they go to sleep. Our objective in Yoga Nidra is to find that place of mind, where the conscious mind has relaxed to the point of dissolution, but awareness remains.
Many practitioners, particularly at the beginning, laying in a comfortable, safe place without distractions, will be unable to stay in this place of mind, and will simply fall asleep. This is fine (I’ve done it myself)! Experience tells us that when this occurs, the normal benefits of a relaxed, deep sleep, will arise, and a positive experience is felt. While I will remind you during the practice, it is appropriate to hold in your mind that you are not sleeping but practicing Yoga Nidra (this can help you avoid drifting off)
Unlike other forms of yoga, Nidra does not demand any activity or motion and the essential element is that you are comfortable while laying down for 30-45 minutes, so I suggest you bring layered clothing that allows you to adjust to the temperature in the hall as well as a pillow or bolster and possibly a quilt to lay on.
You will be familiar with being asked to set an intention during a yoga practice. In Nidra, this is called a Sankalpa and is a brief phrase that can be related more to long-term aspirations and objectives that you would wish for yourself. You may wish to consider something personal to you in advance for your practice but I will offer you an option as we lead in.