One of the most powerful practices yoga can offer us is that of deep rest. Deep rest as a means to connect to our truest selves, our most alive selves and yet also our most effortless selves. Yoga nidra is the practice of deep, systematic relaxation that in fact translates to Yogic Sleep. Yoga, the root, Yuj, often translates into the English word “ join” or “to join.” In Hebrew that word is le’hitztaref. In this practice we will “join” our conscious with our unconscious so deep rest can reveal deep purpose and ease.
This will be an From the second day of Passover until Shavuot, Jews count seven weeks – seven times seven days – to commemorate the period between the Exodus from Egypt and the Revelation at Sinai. When the Temple stood, a certain measure (omer) of barley was offered on the altar each day; today, we merely count out the days. Nidra. (pl of sefirah) In Kabbalah, the 10 “attributes” – channels of Divine energy – via which God interacts with creation., or the qualities of the Omer that correspond to the seven weeks of the Omer and also live inside one another, pair perfectly with the journey of yoga nidra and the qualities that Patanjali offers through the 8 limbs. Each quality or sefirah corresponds to a point in our physical bodies as well. But the best part about a yoga nidra practice is that the only thing a participant must do is engage in ease and effortlessness. It is a guided practice that you may find yourself weaving in and out of being present to. Allow your body to settle and your mind to stay engaged as best as possible. That’s it!
Take a moment to make yourself comfortable. If possible and accessible to you, take a reclined position either on a yoga mat or mattress of some sort. Check in with what feels sustainable for the next few minutes. Make any micro-adjustments or movements and then allow your body to settle into the floor or bed. Your neck might want a pillow or it may serve you better to lay flat. A gentle opening of the palms but nothing too taxing or overly externally rotated. Please allow your eyes to soften and close. Sense your facial features also giving in to gravity. Your neck finds ease and your front body may experience a weightlessness as your back body remains connected to the earth below you. Once your physical self feels completely settled, resolve to find some comfort in your chosen position and relax into the guidance of these words.
Without moving physically, only energetically for the next few minutes, bring your attention to my voice and your presence to the spaces in your body you are being guided to. Focus on a beam of light, perhaps, white or blue in color, moving into those named spaces and bringing the qualities of ease to each point.
Stay effortless and at ease as you bring your attention to:
Eyebrows, center of the brow, throat center, right shoulder joint, elbow joint, wrist joint, tip of the thumb, tip of the index finger, tip of the middle finger, tip of the small finger, right wrist joint, elbow joint, shoulder joint, throat center, left shoulder joint, left elbow joint, left wrist joint, left thumb, left index, left middle, left fourth, left small finger, left wrist, elbow joint, shoulder joint, throat center, heart center, core of the chest, rest at the tip of the right breast/chest, heart center, navel center, pelvic center, right hip joint, knee joint, ankle joint, big toe, second toe, third/middle toe, fourth toe, small toe, ankle joint, knee joint, hip joint right side, pelvic center, left hip joint, knee point, ankle joint left, big toe left, second toe left, middle toe, fourth toe, small toe, ankle joint, knee joint, hip joint, pelvic center, navel center, heart center, throat center, eyebrow center.
Sense spaciousness now. As if all of these points have created a constellation of some sort with you holding the magic and the qualities connecting them. Your breath becomes more and more effortless as it passes through the points and stars. You become pure awareness as that constellation.
Now resting in the conscious and the unconscious in the Keter and Da’at, we will move through the divine creative life force that is you.
Attention now at the right shoulder and upper body – feel the color white infused with loving kindness and bestowing goodness between the points. Lit. Kindness It is said in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) that the world stands on three things: Torah (learning), Avodah (worship), and Gemilut Hasidim (acts of kindness). in Hebrew; ahimsa in Sanskrit.
Next, remain effortless and bring attention to your left shoulder and upper body as you infuse that space with the color red and fuel yourself with strength and discipline. Gevurah in Hebrew and tapas in Sanskrit.
Effortlessly bring your attention to the center of your chest, your heart center. Feel yellow residing in that space. Infuse that space with harmony, experience balance in this posture. The Hebrew word is Tiferet, and in Sanskrit it’s asana.
Allow your breath to remain quiet as you bring your attention now to your right hip and leg. Feel the presence of the color green as you experience a feeling of victory, legacy, sustainability and endurance. Imagine your breath also embodying those qualities. The Hebrew word is Netzakh and the Sanskrit word for this limb is pranayama. Breath-life force. Effortless and alive.
Attention at your left hip and leg. The color orange, the feeling is splendor, humility and beauty. An internal connection – the withdrawal for outside influence. Cultivate self-trust and ease. Hod or in Sanskrit pratyahara.
With attention now at your lower belly, feel the color purple and focus on your foundation, creativity. Yesod. Dharana.
Attention at your root now. Pelvic floor and tailbone. Feel yourself connecting to something deep within you and the earth. Your divinity, and majesty. Malkhut or Dhyana. Absorb the magic. Feel all the colors at once.
And lastly, rest in all of the qualities that lead to universal connection, joy and ease. Samadhi, or Ein Sof – Bliss. Experience all of the qualities of the Omer and the eight-limbed path of yoga.
Connect to your crown, Keter. Allow that connection to go beyond the constellation that is you and connect to all the other stars, energies and entities that create peace, embody joy, appreciate art and humanity and rest in the healing nature of that which is you and that which is also not.
Now slowly increase your breathing, wiggle hands and feet and acknowledge that the journey we went on only traveled to that which is always living inside you. When you are ready, roll slowly to your side and sit up. Give thanks for the very gift of your breath, of your magic, of your being – and rest with joy as you move into the remainder of your day.