It’s a loud world Y’All. We all know that rest and relaxation is good for us. Modern exercise and fitness science has definitively shown that rest is crucial to building muscle after a workout, and we all also know that sleep is essential to our mental health. And yet, most of us are trying to get our shit done in this noisy world without much of either waking rest or deep sleep.
I write this after a rather sleepless night of my own. What with Daylight Savings stealing an hour of life away, being too chilly when I went to bed, sweating the covers off 90 minutes after falling asleep, followed by a 3AM false fire alarm, a bright-eyed full moon shining through the windows around 5AM, capped off by the clock alarm at 5:30AM….. I know y’all feel me on this, right? Not even delving into the toll that politics, fear-stoking global pandemics, job stress or culture controversies take on us, I’m betting you’ve had similar nights, and probably recently.
So how do we get back at least some of that much needed rest? Turns out, ancient yogis had some pretty solid ideas about how to do this- Pratyahara and Yoga Nidra, to name two. “Pratyahara” means literally “control of ahara,” or “gaining mastery over external influences.” In brief*, pratyahara means withdrawing our awareness of negative impressions and tuning back into what we know to be beneficial to us. One of the most important forms of this mastery is the ability to withdraw the physical senses – sight, sound, touch, etc. – and tune into our inner world as a precursor to the calm state of mind meditation can foster.
*Insultingly brief. Read the linked article from Yoga International for a detailed explanation of this important yogic concept.
Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation often practiced lying down, with eyes closed in a darkened (but not entirely dark) room. The facilitator leads a guided meditation for practitioners to focus their mind on. All of these techniques for Yoga Nidra are used to lessen outward and inward distractions and make pratyahara, sense-withdrawal easier, which in turn can help quiet the chattering mind and still the restless body. Once the mind turns the volume down on the chatter and the body is relaxed, we can unplug and rejuvenate our tired selves. Sounds good, yeah?
Art Educator and Embroidery Artist Danette Marie Albino hand-created flax-seed eye pillows from reclaimed fabric especially for All Y’All. These eye pillows are designed for use in our Nidra classes to help facilitate pratyahara – specifically, sense-withdrawal of sight. Check out her web portfolio here, follow her Instagram, and join us for Yoga Nidra classes with her dreamy eye pillows on Fridays at 4:30PM and Sundays at 11AM EST.