*Scan down the page for how you, too, can be this restful and imbued with radiant brilliance at the same time ...
Fall is nature's cue for us to turn inward. For some of us, such slowing down and turning inward can be even more challenging than knocking out the most difficult of yoga poses. After all, those "big," challenging yoga poses are easily seen--it's an outward expression. In turning inward, what we find may not have been seen (not faced) for a long, long time. The mind might flash warning signs."I don't want to look!" "Don't go down that road!" "Who knows what lurks there!"
I invite you to rest assured that the practices of yoga have your back on that journey. As we "move into stillness," as renown teacher Erich Schiffmann calls it, our inner core shines brightly, eternally, and guides us to the gift of resting in that part of us that is beyond doubt. Ever clear. The part of us that has never, and will never, let us down. When we dedicate ourselves to mindful and nurturing practices such as meditation, mantra, breath work, and chanting, when we practice "inner-cise," we may find treasures beyond our wildest imagination. Note: dedication is a critical component, as is consistency in this pursuit.
I totally get it that consistency in doing our own practice can seem to be impossible, something we just can't stick to, or even begin. This is why I always give simple and short home practice suggestions to my private clients. Your personal practice doesn't have to be anywhere near the common 60-75 minutes of a public class! I usually start clients out with a sequence of yoga, pranayama, and/or meditation practices of about 20 minutes. I find that when we commit to just 20 minutes, we believe we can accomplish it. I know when I tell myself I "only" have to practice 20 minutes, I end up wanting to stay on my mat or cushion a little longer. In keeping it short and simple, we, as they say, set ourselves up for success. Our personal practice becomes something we look forward to ... something that entices us back.
Sample 20 minute practice
While one size does not fit all, and working with you one-on-one would allow for a practice shaped for your specific needs, here are a few simple suggestions for a home practice:
Savasasana, to shape a smooth, even breath of equal inhale/exhale (sama vrtti), such as inhale to the count of four, exhale to the count of four. Approximately two minutes.
Dynamic bridge, 5-6 times. Lift hips and arms on inhale, lower down on exhale. Maintain sama vrtti.
Dynamic hands and knees/child's pose (chakravakasana). Inhale to hands and knees, exhale to child's pose, same breath rhythm. 5-6 times.
Half sun salutations, or any simple sun salutation you enjoy, 4-6 times, keep the breath ratio.
Supine twist (on your back). Any variation you are familiar with and enjoy. About 5-8 breaths each side. Same breath ratio.
Dynamic knees to chest (apanasana). Hands may be on shins or backs of thighs, 4-5 times. Exhale as your draw your legs toward your torso, inhale as knees move forward. Here, allow your exhale to be comfortably slower that your inhale, up to a ratio of 1:2.
Savasana, approximately two minutes. Longer if you like or if you won't be sitting for meditation afterward.
Optional: seated meditation of your choice. Even just a minute or two, watching your breath.
Note: Be sure you are steady and comfortable at all times, and modify as needed. I find it helpful to keep a simple log of my practice. I hope this helps!
* And now, on revealing our greatest brilliance while being in deep rest, as modeled above by my cats, Jai and Fanny:
Yoga nidra is one of my most cherished of practices. Of all yoga has to offer, it has perhaps the most enduring and beneficial "results" for me. My teachers have rightly called it "resting on a cloud of yoga," and "deep relaxation and awakened clarity." I am here to say a sweet Yes! The state of yoga nidra is a return to the part of us that has never known a moment of sorrow ... I realize that may sound incredible, but I return to my encouragement of a consistent practice in how you may come to not only rest in that state, but maintain it as you live your life.