Yoga Nidra for Releasing Grief
Yoga Journal|September - October 2020
Meditation
TRACEE STANLEY

Over the past several months, our lives have been upended as we’ve witnessed and endured loss, hardship, and injustice. This is a time of tremendous grief. The world’s eyes have been opened to the truth of more than 400 years of systemic racism, while we grapple with personal loss and social isolation. We are in a time of great transition, and what we do in this space matters. We need to stay awake to everything that arises, especially our sorrow.

When we are weary from heartbreak, we must lie back and let the tamas (lethargy, inertia) of grief work on us in a different way—to get grounded and connected with the unconditional support of the earth. Yoga nidra can help us do this. As a technique, yoga nidra invites us to remain awake and aware while we experience different states of consciousness and the transitions between them. Practitioners are led through four stages of practice—diaphragmatic breathing, systematic relaxation of the body, visualization, and resting in spacious awareness—to reach a place between sleeping and wakefulness. In this place, they are still receiving the rejuvenating benefits of non-REM sleep. While this experience can feel profoundly restful, it is not merely a chance to catch some Zs. It offers entrance into the heart center and provides awakening and connection with our true nature. It’s a practice to wake us up to life. I think of it as a healing salve and believe it’s the practice for these times.

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