As those of us in England settle in to our second national ‘lockdown’, here is a new yoga nidra practice called ‘Gathering Our Resources’. It is an invitation to reflect on what it is we need to be nourished at all levels and to set an intention to gather those things in.
The practice was offered as a part of a full class on the same theme in which I talked about he five niyama – principles of self care from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – and how we might apply niyama to this new period of staying at home and settling in to winter. A video recording of the class (and others) is available in the Home Practice Resources.
The five Niyama are found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (chapter 2, verse 32).
1. Be Hygienic ( śauca – purity and cleanliness)
Not just frequent hand washing – feeding our bodies and minds in ways that keep us clean, light and bright (sattvic). The food that we eat, the information we read and the activities we spend time on all affect how ‘clean’ we are. Practice diary hygiene – is there anything on your ‘to do’ list you could simply strike off? Enjoy a long exhalation, with a feeling of clearing a space.
2. Be Realistic (saṃtoṣa -contentment)
Feeling into sensation, not just following ambition. What can I realistically achieve over the winter or during lockdown? Set goals which are achievable.
3. Have a Routine ( tapas – discipline and consistency)
Do one thing every day at the same time each day (even if its just getting to bed on time). Eat meals at regular times, spend time outdoors and make time for your yoga practice. Mark these things in your calendar and stick to them.
4. Make Time for Yourself (svādhyāya – self study and awareness)
Actually make an appointment and schedule it in your calendar (you can even set a reminder on your phone). Treat it like a meeting or phone call with a Very Important Person. Use this time to do whatever you feel like. Don’t over plan – you might feel like doing nothing. Trust yourself.
5. Embrace the Winter, Don’t Endure It (Īśvara praṇidhāna – devotion and surrender)
Letting go is not the same as giving up. All around us, trees are letting go of all their leaves to settle into an apparent ‘death’ over the winter. Behind the scenes, under the ground, these same trees are gathering in their resources, putting down deeper roots and conserving their energy for the next growing season.
Winter is not a mistake.
Do all five in one go with a twenty minute daily practice of deep relaxation. Schedule it in, gather your props, use a guided relaxation or just set a timer.
There are no contraindications to relaxation.
The next class will be held on Sunday 22 November, 7.30-9.00pm and is an invitation to ‘remember’ ourselves. We will consider the idea of nourishment at each layer of our being – body, breath, mind, heart and soul. This model of five layers of being is found in the Taitirriya Upanisad and is most commonly referred to as the panca kośa (five bodies).