Yoga Nidra — Return to Self

Me and my boy Tortilla in early January …

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MY TEACHER — TORTILLA

Tortilla knows how to play hard … every second is a new adventure for this kid. Jim has described the contents of Tortilla’s brain as “full of silliness & squirrels.” But our boy knows comfort & rest better than any living being I know. He seeks out the fluffiest blankets, the sunniest sunspots, the coziest corners … & takes full advantage. Towels just out of the dryer? Yes, please. Space on Mama’s lap (or some way I can MAKE space)? Here I am. While backpacking – your pillow or that poofy sleeping bag? Hmm, move over just a bit, Dad.

While our boy Baxter is constantly vigilant, always watching us, herding us or otherwise on the lookout … Tortilla’s motto seems to be Why stand when I can sit? Why sit when I could lay down? Why stay awake when I could be napping? They’ll get me when they’re ready for fun … or when there are squirrels.

Another teacher in our midst.

I don’t “rest” well. I’m a habitually light sleeper, lived on 5-6 hours of sleep in grad school, & burned the candle at both ends through more than a few jobs I was passionate about. I stay up later than necessary, & have always been an early riser. And I’ve never liked naps (much to Jim’s utter dismay). Waste of time. I could be accomplishing something. I don’t sit still often by choice … though I sit more often than I’d like to admit these last few years … nevertheless, when I’m sitting I’m doing something. While Tortilla can totally let go & just rest after a hard day of chasing sunspots indoors & bunnies outdoors, I keep going well after the workday or work week officially ends.

When I list the jobs / projects I’m involved with, people have often commented, “Wow, you’re a busy lady!” For a Type A personality, that’s a compliment … a badge of honor … right?

Then I look at Tortilla …

MY LESSON — REST

I’m starting to understand this “you’re busy” comment as a gentle nudge from Something Bigger to step back & re-evaluate … a red flag that I’ve … once again … overstepped my own rhythm & sustainability.

In a previous blog post, I wrote about meeting with one of my yoga teachers/mentors … & how we talked about everything from the yoga classes I’m teaching, to recent deaths in my family/community, to my food choices, to my sleep quality. I was prepared to take notes on an asana practice she’d assign me for the next 6 months … but we didn’t talk much about physical poses (except for my aggravated shoulder … no chaturangas for me).

Rather, she gave me a meditation practice, offered tips for my food choices based on Ayurvedic principles, & encouraged me to find nourishment.

Permission to rest.

MY PRACTICE — YOGA NIDRA

I’d already practiced yoga nidra a few times over the past few months. What is yoga nidra? It’s a form of “yogic sleep” adapted by Swami Satyananda from traditional yoga practices of nyasa. Click here for a down-to-earth definition =). I’d also looked into a yoga nidra program called Daring to Rest, by Karen Brody, & had tried a few of her free sessions. After our meeting, I signed up for the 40-Day Daring to Rest Challenge, which began January 8th.

So, 20 days in … it’s not been easy. You’d think, well, just lay down & be still & zone out. Nuh-uh. There’s work to be done in yoga nidra, but not the outer, superficial, social media post work. This work is internal, subtle … a gentle, powerful return to myself.

Just granting myself PERMISSION to stop … to STOP … was life-changing.

Then accepting that maybe I AM THE EXPERT on me, on who I am & who I can be — rather than co-opting someone else’s solutions, however “yogic” or spiritual or lovely they might be.

Finally, learning … still learning … that I AM NOT CRAZY. And I have felt crazy at various times over the past few years (… decades)? I have felt a random yet powerful connection in nature … I have had wicked powerful emotions come out of nowhere … I have intuited something & thought, oh boy, if I say this out loud …

It’s a powerful statement to say “The feminine part of us is not crazy” … The feminine is INTUITIVE, sometimes a little wild … & women have an internal power most of us don’t tap into regularly. What you choose to call the source of that intuition is up to you — Something Bigger, God, Universe, Spirit — go for it. The feminine is powerfully connected with rhythm, cycles, ebbs & flows … which has been ignored or dismissed at best, or has resulted in shame or even persecution of women (& some men) at worst. To rediscover those rhythms, cycles, connections is overwhelming for me, yet also pretty fucking awesome.

I’M ONLY ONE

So I’m experimenting on myself, figuring out what works =). So far, dialing back on my commitments, eating cleaner food (most of the time 😉 ), getting back into Nature, & broadening my yoga practice with yoga nidra are supporting me in slowly returning to myself — it’s not happening overnight or even over a year. Long-term project, internal, subtle … & I hope I’ll encourage someone else along the way.

How do you return to yourself?

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