I spent January sinking deep into the study and practice of Yoga Nidra with Julie Lusk. I started practicing Yoga Nidra almost daily in 2020 during the COVID pandemic. Over time Yoga Nidra became a respite from all that swirled around me. As we emerged from the pandemic and life began to open, my routines shifted and Yoga Nidra got lost in the re-awakening of life. It became a reaction to the stressors in life instead of a proactive foundation. Yoga Nidra training presented me with an opportunity to come back to this dear friend and to deepen my practice.
I’ve always been drawn to the concept of the koshas but I never truly understood the connection between Yoga Nidra and the koshas until diving deeper in this training. The koshas, known as energetic layers, sheaths, or coverings, are what shield us from the truth of who we really are: the truth that we are joy and love. Yes, my sankalpa (intention) for the last 3 years has been “Be, in love.”
Yoga Nidra systematically takes us on a journey through each kosha so we can reach the truth—the truth of who we are. With practice, this journey becomes a sacred homecoming to Self.
Throughout the month of my training, I practiced Yoga Nidra daily, sometimes more than once a day, and began to remember the power and the magic in the practice. I remembered the way my body and mind could ease into stillness. I remembered the rejuvenation that comes from taking time for myself. I began to remember and witness the cumulative effects of a dedicated practice—the effect of coming home.
For me, this coming home helped awaken my creativity and my joy. As creativity began to rush through me, I was reminded of how complete and at home I feel when I’m spending time with my camera, nature, poetry, and beauty.
As I practiced Yoga Nidra and moved through those barriers to my truth, I rediscovered myself. I become more productive, more joyful, and more creative. I felt myself opening and my receptivity growing. As I relaxed into a forward fold one afternoon, words began to emerge. This was the kind of emergence that you pay attention to—that which beckons for attention and invites you into sacred listening.
Listen, I did.
For a few days I listened before sitting down to let the words fully emerge. It took mere minutes once I got present and opened to receive them. Then, I could hardly keep up with them as they flowed out like eager waves crashing onto the shore.
I gaze at this house from a distance
Its steadiness and consistency
Its ever-changing nature
Colorful and lush
Stark and bare
Glowing with light
Merging with the shadows
I stand at the threshold
The next step begins the sacred ceremony I’ve come to know so well
A ceremony I meet anew every time
I open the door and step through
The initial moments of dark and quiet, my faithful friends
I gently walk from room to room
Noticing invitations of space
Stopping to assess what’s in my way
The windows begin to beckon
A freedom begging to be set free
The breeze begins to move
The breeze grows
The winds flow through the house
Clearing, cleansing, transforming
The light invited in
Capturing one object
Gracefully moving through each room
I follow the light
I follow the objets
One by one
Spotlighting as if begging to be seen, pondered, engaged
The wind moves a cloud through
The light disappears into shadows as if stealing the stage, rendering invisible, rendering equal
Light and shadow
Light and shadow
I take in the spaces between
This house that harbors my soul
This house that contains my breath
This house that carries my mind
This ceremony to it all
And to none of it
When the flow ended and I finally read the sacred words, I knew immediately what they meant. I know this ceremony as my Yoga practice: the walk from room to room through my body and my thoughts—the winds of my breath and the light that shines within. I also know the shadows and how they work together with the light. It is the work I do with Yoga to be present, to see it all, to find the spaces between the breaths, the thoughts, and the light and dark. I know this house as the koshas and my Yoga practice. These are the places where my soul finds shelter and the sacred ceremony is practiced again and again to welcome and discover anew.
This is Yoga; this is the practice of Yoga Nidra: building our capacity to move through the koshas from the outer to the inner, removing the shields, and accessing the truth. Once we access the truth we can begin to live from that truth. As my teacher Sue and I recently explored, it’s an outside in and then inside out job!
It’s our job as humans—every moment of every day—to remove the obstacles to our true Self, obstacles embedded in our bodies and minds as a result of everyday life, so we can live as we are truly meant to: as beings of love and joy. And, it’s a practice—a ceremony I meet anew every time.
Beauty does not linger, it only visits. Yet Beauty’s invitation affects us and invites us into its rhythm, it calls us to feel, think, and act beautifully in this world: To create and live a life that awakens the beautiful. — John O’Donohue