I know that your life is packed.
And I wouldn’t dream of suggesting adding anything extra to your already-packed to-do list that will consume even more of your precious time and energy.
So please don’t worry about that!
It’s the total opposite.
Because, like most other women, I know you already face pressure to be Superwoman, put out fires, flourish in your career, and be there for your friends, family, and everyone in between.
Intellectually, we understand the oxymoron “put your oxygen mask on first,” and we know that” we can’t pour from an empty”cup”—yet these mantras are ones we struggle to follow.
No matter how much we desire more me-time and quiet, we just don’t have the time or energy to fill our empty cups.
Why Most Women Struggle With Self-Care
I am a Black woman of Caribbean descent, born and raised in the UK.
As a child growing up, most women I saw worked hard, tried to save and survive, and held their families together.
Models of restorative self-care, or seeing women put themselves first, were not a thing.
In my household, dad got the largest piece of meat, then my brother and me, while mum took the bony scraps and filled her plate with the gravy.
So, as I grew up, I internalised the norms and values around me and adopted that ingrained paradigm of “pushing hard to succeed.” “You must work hard for your and the biggest yet invisible law was definitely “don’t stop to rest because then you will be judged lazy and worthless.”
Like most women I know, who are also ambitious and strive to be independent at work and home, we didn’t learn the skills to dismantle this paradigm or consider our self-care needs.
Nowadays, even though we are older and know better, we are so worn out trying to survive and keep our heads above water that we still don’t have time or energy to think about how to take care of ourselves.
That’s why I love yoga nidra meditation and feel it is a core practice to help us learn to care more for ourselves.
Why Yoga Nidra Meditation is Unique
Yoga nidra meditation (aka yoga nidra) is an ancient Tantric meditation practice that nowadays falls within the guided relaxation meditation technique category.
For more information about the Tantric origins of yoga nidra, I invite you to read this article and other blog posts on the same, bigShakti website.
Yoga nidra is often described as “the meditation of yogic sleep.”
Even though it’s known as “Yoga Nidra Meditation,” don’t worry; yoga nidra doesn’t involve doing physical yoga postures or asanas that call for mastering difficult and complex body shapes.
It certainly doesn’t require flexibility or bendability.
It doesn’t require you to be up at dawn, take a cold shower, and do 108 rounds of the Sun Salutations.
Unlike other types of meditation, practising yoga nidra also doesn’t require you to sit still on the floor for twenty minutes in the lotus position, concentrate on expanding your awareness, or focus on your breath.
Fortunately, yoga nidra meditation is a lot simpler than all of that.
Fitting Yoga Nidra into Your Busy Schedule
The beauty of yoga nidra is that it is a gentle and accessible form of meditation.
It is very helpful for people with health conditions that affect their sense of wellness and vitality and those going through highly stressful situations at home, work, or, most commonly, both.
One of the reasons for its accessibility is that you practice yoga nidra by lying on your back on a yoga mat, a blanket, or, like me, on (or in) your bed.
The practice gives you a refreshing break from your punishing schedule.
How to do Yoga Nidra Meditation
Yoga nidra is easy to practice.
- First, ensure you are warm and cosy in an area where, hopefully, people and pets won’t bother you.
- Then, choose your preferred yoga nidra meditation audio or video (see the resources section below) you want to listen to and press play.
- Next, you let the facilitator’s voice guide you through the practice. Through guidance, your body and mind slowly settle into deeper states of rest and conscious relaxation.
In yoga nidra, it is perfectly normal if you drift in and out of sleep, fall into a deep sleep, and don’t wake up till the session has finished—or, in some cases, in the morning!
If you nod off during the practice when you notice this has happened, return your attention to listening to the facilitator’s guidance, or if you notice there is a silent pause in the guided meditation, tune into your body’s wisdom and listen to any messages your body may have for you.
You’ll continue to benefit from yoga nidra’s therapeutic effects even as you drift off to sleep because of how the subconscious mind functions.
Useful Guided Yoga Nidra Meditation Resources
As a yoga and meditation teacher, I love discovering and practicing yoga nidra with other teachers, as it helps me ignore my automatic tendency to criticise my voice and go deeper into the practice.
- Two of my favourite yoga nidra teachers offer guided yoga nidra for free online on YouTube: Ayla Nova (Yoga Nidra and Beyond) and Kristen McCarthy (Yoga with Kristen).
I particularly love the vibe and deep transformative spiritual yoga nidra meditations provided by practitioners from The Amrit Yoga Institute.
- Popular meditation apps, such as Insight Timer and Calm, offer guided yoga nidra sessions from various yoga nidra schools and traditions.
- If you enjoy reading, the classic Yoga Nidra book by Swami Satyananda Saraswati and my favourite book, Radiant Rest: Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity by Tracee Stanley, is pure bliss.
- If you search for “yoga nidra meditations” in the Spotify app, you will find numerous practices to keep you rested, connected, and engaged.
- And, if, like me, you love yoga nidra so much that you want to study it deeper and maybe even become a yoga nidra facilitator, here are two yoga nidra teacher training resources I can personally recommend:
How Does Yoga Nidra Work?
As previously mentioned, the beauty of Yoga Nidra is its simplicity and accessibility. Sessions can last between 15 minutes and an hour.
In another article, we will delve deeper into neuroscience and research on the impact and benefits of yoga nidra on your brain chemistry, health, and well-being.
For now, on a practical level, remember that you can practice yoga nidra at any time of the day, from meditating first thing in the morning to help you set your intention for the day and feel alert and refreshed, mid-day to rest and reset your energy, to the last thing at night to help you unwind and drift off to sleep.
The simplicity of yoga nidra is that it consists of a series of specific relaxation and meditative techniques designed to systematically relax our bodies and minds by eliciting the relaxation response in our physiology.
Some relaxation and meditative techniques include a sequence of breath awareness exercises, guided imagery, affirmation meditation, and relaxation techniques, which ultimately help you reconnect with your breath to revitalise the body and gently release physical and emotional tension.
From an energetic yoga anatomy perspective, the yoga nidra techniques systematically guide you through the body’s five layers, or sheaths—the physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies, known collectively as the Koshas.
In brief, the five layers, or sheaths, of the body are:
- Annamay kosha (the physical layer)
- Pranamaya kosha (the energetic layer)
- Manomaya kosha (the mind, beliefs, and emotional layer)
- Vijnanamaya kosha (the higher mind, wisdom and intuition layer)
- Anandamaya kosha (the bliss/highest consciousness, our core essence layer)
As the body consciously relaxes, your brain automatically shifts from an active beta-brain wave state, where most of us spend our day stressed out, exhausted, and anxious, to a calmer, more restorative, restful alpha-brain wave state.
The Simplicity of Yoga Nidra for Restorative Rest — Impact on Our Brain Waves
Depending on how your body and mind respond to the different yoga nidra techniques, some people go on to experience the slower, deeper theta and even delta brain wave states, which correlate to even deeper relaxation, restoration, and rest.
This state is the most restorative and restful in our bodies and, over time, enables the body system to regenerate and repair itself.
Naturally, the longer-term advantages of yoga nidra take time to become embodied and for us to consistently make yoga nidra a daily part of our lives.
We are so accustomed to the cultural values of feeling weary and depleted that we think those states are “normal.”
It takes courage, collective strength and pateince to structurally change norms and biases which undermine our efforts to rest and reclaim our time — without fear of reprisal, shame and reprimand from others.
We can only begin to liberate ourselves from the routines and structures that support our hyperactive, stress-filled lifestyles when we intentionally unwind and embody “rest.”
Making yoga nidra an integral part of your busy lifestyle helps us recognise the depth and value of conscious rest and relaxation.
Regular practice will help you cultivate the insights, wisdom, skills, and inner strength to resist the pressure to deny your needs for rest, inner peace, a good night’s sleep, and calm focus during the day.
Anytime you notice your mind running on overdrive and you are snapping at loved ones and at your wits end, I invite you to give yourself permission to get off the merry-go-round of stress.
Check out some of the yoga nidra resources I recommend: lean back, press play, rest, and enjoy your moment of restorative calm!
Additionally, click here to receive your FREE Set of 21 “Self-Love Affirmations,” which are ideal if you’re sick of struggling and want to start each day feeling better with hope and inspiration. Thank you.
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