Practising mindfulness isn’t for the restless

I tried out Yoga nidra, and found doing nothing is a lot harder then it looks

I wish I was one of those people who could be mindful and do Yoga nidra without needing to move or wonder who’s texting me, but sadly, I’m a restless soul.

Very rarely do we get a chance to lie down and do absolutely nothing. The opportunities to practice mindfulness are far and few between, so when the opportunity to try out Yoga nidra arose, I took it.

As someone who has gone to basic yoga classes, power flow yoga classes, and deep stretch yoga, Yoga Nidra was the simplest type I have ever tried. There’s no downward-dog until all the blood rushes to your head and no trying to bend your body into a pretzel. Rather, it’s an exercise to enter a state between waking and sleeping.

It’s a state in which the body is completely relaxed and your senses turned inward. You become increasingly aware of your body and breathing by following a set of audio instructions. It has been found to reduce tension and anxiety.

All you need to do is listen to a guided recording while lying on your back, on the floor, with your eyes closed. Sounds easy enough, right? I decided to give it a go, in between lengthy and stressful readings.

I began by lying on my hardwood bedroom floor, placing a small pillow under my head. I had the lights off, but sunlight was streaming through my window.

Next, I closed my eyes and tried to keep my body absolutely still. This turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. I tend to be more fidgety than most, so trying to lie still was a great challenge just by itself. I kept wiggling my fingers and toes, moving my neck and blinking. Who knew lying still could be so difficult?

My next thought was that I could fall asleep. Lying on the floor is supposed to prevent this, but with the gentle waves that played off the recording and with it being mid-day, I almost surrendered to my sleepiness, but that’s not the point of the exercise. The recording focused on breathing and being aware of your body parts.

I struggled to truly be aware of different parts of my body. The calming voice would say, in almost a whisper, “be aware of your right palm, your right wrist…” and I didn’t really know how to do that. I knew my right palm was there, did that count for being aware?

I couldn’t help but let out small giggles when she said “Your right armpit.” Not exaggerating, she named every single body part. This made me fidget even more, wiggling the body parts she was listing off.

I have to say, the breathing exercises were what provided me the space to truly relax. Controlling my breath enabled me to stop focusing on moving around and just focus on my body.

The instructor tells you to count as you breathe, breathing in for a count of eight and breathing out for a count of eight. The numbers begin to decrease each time until you’re only breathing in for one and out for one.

I felt the tension release from my body as I focused solely on my breathing. It was easy to keep my eyes shut and body still during this part, as I had something to focus on.

At that point, nothing was on my mind except for the flow of breath in and out.

It definitely felt a little odd to be so aware of every bodily sensation. We don’t often have time to sit down and meditate or focus on how we’re feeling, so to be so hypersensitive to this was slightly jarring. Normally, you don’t pay attention to how your body works on a second to second basis, now, I was able to recognize the way my stomach would rise and fall with each breath, and the way that I felt the urge to move my toes to keep my feet from falling asleep.

I felt the way my heart rate slowed down upon starting this exercise, as opposed to the hard hammering it was doing earlier when I was at the gym. Suddenly, all my senses were heightened. I even noticed the amount of background noise that we normally don’t hear.

I’d only done classic forms of yoga before this and found them to be more relaxing in comparison. However, there is something to be said for lying still and practicing being as in tune with your body and your breathing as you can.

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