If In Doubt, Take a Nap.
I’m serious. It works.
In the UK, naps are often thought of as something only babies do.
Here in Spain, they are for everyone, just like Yoga!
And guess what, they both help us out in many of the same ways.
Just like your computer, if your mind is whirring around and not getting anywhere, turn it off and on again…
Great ways to do this are with a meditation, a yogic sleep or a regular snooze.
Benefits of Sleep include :-
- Health – our body can heal itself (you need only to look at an old scar to know that truth) & during sleep more energy goes into that healing.
- Performance – whatever we’ve been learning about – whether it’s physical or mental, we’ll continue to integrate on a deeper level (known as “consolidation”) during sleep therefore we wake up even more capable of it.
- Creativity – scientists believe the brain restructures during sleep allowing for more creativity.
- Relaxation – the body relaxes as the breath deepens and the nervous system shifts into the parasympathetic state.
- Digestion – the relaxed parasympathetic state is known as “Rest & Digest” for good reason!
- Alertness – research suggests a 20-40mins power nap most effectively enhances short-term alertness.
If you feel more tired after a nap, contrarily you might be napping for too long!
Current research shows that a 10-minute nap produces the most benefit in terms of:-
- reduced sleepiness
- improved mental function
Even if you can’t sleep during the day, lying down and relaxing fully will give many of the same benefits.
Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and JFK were all afternoon-nappers and more than 85% of all mammalian species are polyphasic sleepers (meaning they take naps in the daytime, too).
On the Mat
Let’s bring this back to the mat:
At the end of every yoga session, we find savasana (sha-VA-sana) also known as “Corpse Pose” and – (to keep talk of corpses during class limited to necessity) –
“Lying Down Pose”.
How do you feel after a really good savasana?
Perhaps you’ve relaxed so deeply into one, you’ve actually fallen asleep?
Maybe you’ve enjoyed that sensation of teetering on a beautiful brink between waking and sleeping?
You might have had psychedelic experiences? Moments of pure clarity? Spiritual revelations?
A great savasana feels pretty amazing, doesn’t it!
If you’ve not experienced anything like this in savasana, maybe you haven’t yet managed to fully sink into it.
It’s hard to do, so don’t beat yourself up.
Instead, realise it – like any asana – just takes practise!
And just as with every asana, it’s ok to use props and tools to help you, such as:-
- Binaural Beats
- Meditation Apps
- Mala beads
- Essential Oils/Incense
- Guided Meditations
- Sound Journeys (see more below)
- Eye Pillows
- Cushions – arrange them for comfort and to keep the spine long.
If you can only commit to practising one pose each day this month,
Let it be savasana!
A wonderful way to find profound relaxation.
Sometimes there is movement to begin. Other times, you immediately find a comfortable resting place – savasana, if that’s comfortable – where you can relax fully. That is when the Sound Journey commences.
Each I have attended has been unique as the sound creators pick up on the energy of the room and play from their hearts and souls. An array of instruments can be used: bells & bowls, shamanic drums, string instruments, woodwinds, diminutive and grandiose gongs – plus others I wouldn’t be able to name – often accompanied by ocassional, evocative vocals.
All combine to create a sound journey that leads to deep, deep relaxation and often to some incredible epiphanies!
Once over, there is time and sometimes movement or perhaps some uplifting mantras to help to release unnecessary energies and deep-rooted emotions that the sound journey may have stirred up to the surface.
It can be a magical experience that can result in an incredible mixture of release, joy, connection and gratitude.
Sound Journeys can be deeply healing: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And all you have to do is be there and let the sounds and vibrations (as we know from school, sounds are vibrations!) wash over and through you.
“Yoga Heals – You Just Have To Let it!”
If you’re new to yoga and meditation, check out the full
“Intro to Yoga Series” here.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Nervous System and how yoga ‘biohacks’ this usually autonomic system, click here.
To get access and download a Free Guided Meditation, sign up for the Nirmala Yoga Loveletter here.
In our modern western society, especially in the summer, we’re often encouraged to be “busy, busy, busy”.
Remember it’s ok to stop.
It’s ok to say no. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t make that party or when you skip a workout or when you go back to bed for a nap.
Take care of yourself.
Human beings have only been racing around with multiple devices of communication for the most recent of years.
This is not our Natural State. According to Yoga, our natural state is Peace. Our natural state is Love.
May you Find the Peace & Love.
May you Be the Peace & Love
Originally published in the July Nirmala Loveletter, 2018. To sign up for the latest Loveletter, click here.
Jeannette Amy (Nette) Hopkinson (BSc Hons Sports & Life Sciences) is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher and Oneness Blessing Giver based in Andalucía.