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Season 3 - Episode 8

Soothing the Nervous System

60 min - Practice
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When nothing is certain everything is possible. Kira’s guest, Kristin Leal, leads a transformative Yoga Nidra practice to help us move through obstacles with grace, efficiency, and ease. Resting comfortably on our backs, Kristin guides us through breath awareness, body scan, alternate nostril breathing, and pairing of opposites techniques to ultimately become aware of the part of us that is unchanged, unbound, pure potential. Kristin sings grounding mantras to gently guide us back to awareness. You will feel held, receptive, and absorbed by the light of who you really are.
What You'll Need: No props needed

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Talk

Hi friends, welcome to The Yoga Show. Today is the 19th anniversary of 9-11 here in America, and to Mark today, we're going to be getting to practice with our friend Kristin Leal in New York City. Kristin Leal is a brilliant yogini with three powerful and potent shows on yoga anytime already, including Body Poetry, Your Body on Yoga, as well as Yoga Nidra. And we're super excited that she's going to be joining our fall lineup. She's kicking off her newest show, Soothing Your Nervous System.

It'll kick off next Wednesday, the 16th at 10.30 a.m. California time, and it'll run for about eight weeks. Okay, with all of that, let's go to Kristin Leal now. Hi Kira, thank you for having me and thank you for the team, Nicole and Alana and Jeff for setting all of this up and making these practices available. I totally agree with you. Nothing would be possible without the production team.

So most of us who were around during 9-11 know exactly where we were when that happened. Tell us where you were. Yeah, I was living in New York. I've been here about 27 years, so I had been in New York for a while at that point, and I worked downtown, and I think we all have those memories, those traumas get imprinted in ourselves, in our bodies, in our minds of how we were feeling, what we were doing, how we reacted, how we responded. Yeah, and so now we find ourselves in a different kind of major event, the pandemic.

Here in America, it's been happening for six plus months. Obviously in the rest of the world, it's been happening for even longer, but how is this current... tragedy doesn't even feel like the right word because tragedy has a sense of a single event, but how does the current conditions of difficulty different from how you experienced 9-11 in the city? I do feel that there's a lot of similarities. 9-11, there was great uncertainty, there was great instability, but because it was a more immediate event, it was more about our survival, our immediate survival, and then there was time to heal and stitch up our hearts and begin to move, digest it fully, sit with it fully, but then move from there, whereas I feel in the city, at least now, because it's not one singular event, but they actually call it in New York, the pause, New York is on pause, and that's kind of how I think about it, is that we've been in this sustained uncertainty where all of our plans, all of our travel, all of the economy, our institutions, our environment seems to be crumbling and it's become an opportunity, perhaps if we'd like to see it, to instead of just survive, to find some kind of self-transformation, transformation of our institutions, transformation of our economy, our lives, how we move through it. When nothing is certain, everything is possible, so there is an opportunity as we kind of move through the uncertainty, thankfully with these practices, the help of these practices, but we have an opportunity to pause, to feel it fully, to allow for those feelings and to create and build something better, something different.

I love that. When nothing is certain, everything is possible. Tell us a little bit about the practice we'll be doing with you today. Yeah, the practice that I thought might be of most help today is a practice of yoga nidra, of rest, of deep reset and rest, and it includes a particular practice of pairing of the opposites. You know, we're moving through that uncertainty and it's very easy to get trapped in fear or non-allowing or resistance or grabbing or grasping, and that really makes us stuck.

So in the pairing of the opposites, we create a safe space, a laboratory little experiment on our mat where we can observe the dualities, pain and pleasure, heat and coolness. We can observe that, but route back to the part of us that remains undisturbed, unbound, that just is pure potential, and the more we can tap back to that place of pure potential, I think that's where the resilience comes from, that well of resilience will come from. So if we can string together a bunch of those remembrances, then when we get thrown by the duality that is inherent and undeniable and will happen, we have a refuge in that place that can just observe and pause and move more gracefully from that pause, move to the next good step. I cannot wait to practice with you this morning. It's all yours.

Thank you again so much for being here. Thank you. All right, so you won't need anything too fancy for the practice.

Practice

Just maybe if you find a pillow for underneath your knees, we will be resting on our backs. Maybe something if your floor is hard, like a flat blanket under your head, and you want to make sure that you feel warm and comfortable.

So as you grab those things, you might choose to dim the lights, make sure your phone is turned off, limit the distractions that might come in. And if you are, as you're setting up, if you find yourself falling asleep and you wish not to, there's a cool little trick as your arms are by your sides of just bending one elbow, propping your elbow on the floor with the fingers up at the ceiling, it takes very little effort. But as you start to fall asleep, your arm will droop and that'll be often just enough to wake you back up without startling you. If you start to feel anxious and uncertain and you wish to pause for a moment, you're welcome to open your eyes at any point or even roll to one side to finish the practice on your side. Anything that helps.

Okay, you should be all set up by now. Come down onto your backs and adjust your body so it can be warm and comfortable. Can separate your heels a little wider than your hips and just roll your legs in and out and in and out a few times. Just let them fall or flop to an open position. Adjusting your buttock flesh so it feels mostly symmetrical, supportive underneath your pelvis.

And lower back can soften a slight arch away from the floor. Arms can move a little bit away from the sides of the body and turn the palms to face up. Never so slightly slide the shoulder blades a bit down and under. No need to overly rotate your arms. Your thumbs can still rest a little higher than your pinky fingers.

Always relax so the fingers just naturally curl inward. Can do a little bobble head movement with your head and neck. Can make a weird face squishing your nose, sticking out your tongue, roll the eyes and put your face back together, closing your eyes, feel a little breeze underneath your neck bones. Soften the brow. Let the eyes grow still behind the heavy lids.

Saw soften so deeply the lips might even part. Tongue falling wide and flat in the floor of the mouth, behind the lower teeth. You allow for your body to become quieter and more still. Begin to draw your awareness to the sounds that you can hear around you, perhaps starting with the sound furthest away from you. Maybe it's the sound of my voice, sound of something in your room or outside.

Just allowing yourself to follow the sound without the need to fix it, deny it, analyze it. It's floating from sound to sound. And now point the awareness to the sounds that you can hear inside of you, whether that's the sound maybe of your belly grumbling, sound of your thoughts, might even be aware of the pulsation in the vessels, just awareness of sound within you. Awareness that you can toggle back and forth between awareness of what's outside of you, sound, movement, and awareness of what's inside of you, sensation, thought, move the awareness back and forth, awareness of what's outside of you. Awareness of sensation and sound within you.

And now feel as if you're resting inside of a circle, the sounds from outside, the distractions, they exist outside of the circle. Just the awareness now within. Begin to hear or allow to arise your sankopa or intention. Now, if you're working with a sankopa, begin to hear or repeat it silently to yourself three times. If you're not already working with a sankopa, begin to hear your intention, perhaps of how you'd like to feel or move through today or this week.

Perhaps it's something like, I am restful, I am at peace, I am held and loved and supported. Just repeat your intention three times now. Now feel in your body the sensation as if that intention or sankopa has already taken hold. What would it feel like in your body? And with gratitude, let it go.

Become aware of the very subtle movement of your breath without having to deepen the breath or change its pattern in any way. Just become aware of your breathing. You might settle the awareness at the tiny little movement of your belly as you breathe. This tiny little rise and fall. Just silently begin to count back from 10 each time you exhale, counting back.

So next time your belly falls, just feel 10. The next time you exhale, 9. The next exhale, 8. Next time feeling like you can let a little bit more go, a little efforting, a little trying, a little holding or bracing until you get back to 1. And if you lose count, just start again at 10.

If you finish early, just start again at 10. I'll let go of the counting no matter what number you've gotten to. Just let it go. Notice as you relax deeper, body growing heavier. You might not notice the breath moving all the way down into the belly, breath growing quieter, more shallow on its own.

You might just experience the movement of the breath in the chest, this tiny, easy rise and fall of your chest. And to allow for greater ease, you might just be aware of the movement of the breath in the nostrils, subtle and easy rise of breath from the tip of the nose to the bridge of the nose, the walls of the nostrils. You might even become aware that you are not the breather. That you are being breathed. We're going to move the awareness now through the body.

We're going to name different parts of the body for us to just drop our attention into. There's no need to move these parts or feel anything in particular. Just become aware of your right hand. Feel the density of your presence in your right hand. Feel the right thumb, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm of the hand, back of the hand.

Right forearm, upper arm, right shoulder, underarm, right ribs, right waist, right foot, right hip, right groin, right thigh, right knee, right chin, right ankle, right ankle, top of the right foot, sole of the right foot, right big toe, second toe, third toe, fourth toe, fifth toe, left hand, left thumb, second finger, third finger, fourth finger, fifth finger, palm of the hand, back of the hand, left forearm, upper arm, left shoulder, underarm, left ribs, left waist, left hip, left groin, left thigh, left foot, left foot, left knee, left shin, left ankle, top of the left foot, sole of the left foot, left big toe, second toe, third toe, fourth toe, fifth toe, back of the head, right shoulder blade, left shoulder blade, right buttock, left buttock, right heel, left heel, pelvis, spine, lower belly, upper belly, right chest, left chest, center of the chest, throat, chin, chin, chin, chin, bottom lip, top lip, space between the lips, tongue, roof of the mouth, right cheek, right cheek, left cheek, right ear, left ear, tip of the nose, ridge of the nose, right eye, left eye, right eyebrow, left eyebrow, right temple, left temple, forehead, left eye, upper head, crown of the head, feel the entire right arm, feel the entire left arm, feel both arms together, feel the right leg, feel the left leg. Feel both legs together, feel the entire back of the body, feel the entire front of the body, feel the whole body, feel the whole body resting, feel the whole body resting, feel the whole body resting, feel the whole body resting, turning the awareness to the very subtle movement of the breath that you can experience in the nostrils, no effort, nostrils like two rivers or streams that merge back to a point in the middle of the brain, returning to their source. As you happen to breathe in, feel the breath ascend through the left nostril. As you breathe out, feel it descend through the right. As you next breathe in, feel it move up through the right.

As you exhale out through the left, just a mental alternate nostril breath without having to try or force, the breath moves in through the left, out through the right, in through the right, out through the left, please continue. Effortless flow of breath, mental alternate nostril breathing. As you exhale out through the right nostril breath, feel it move up through the left nostril breath. As you exhale out through the right nostril breath, feel it move up through the left nostril breath. Release the flow of breath, alternating through the nostrils.

As you exhale out through the left nostril breath, feel it move up through the left nostril breath, letting it go, begin to feel your body heavy, your whole body heavy, heels and seat, thighs, spine, arms, head, heavy, as if it's being drawn down towards the very center of the earth, the whole body heavy, feel the whole body heavy. Now feel the body light, as light as a feather as if it could float up towards the sky, the whole body light, feel the whole body light. Now feel the body hot, the whole body hot, as if you're standing outside in the blazing summer sun, the whole body hot. Feel the whole body hot, feel the body now cold, the whole body cold, as if you're standing on top of an ice float, the whole body cold. Feel the whole body cold, as if you're standing on top of an ice float, as if you're standing on top of an ice float, feel experience, the sensation of pain, physical sensation, emotional or mental pain.

Allow the experience of pain. And now pleasure, feel and allow the experience of pleasure in your body, the feeling of pleasure of delight. Thank you. And now awareness of the part of you that is asleep. Really awareness of sleep, aware of the part of you that is sleeping, resting, quiet, the part of you that's asleep.

Feel and allow the awareness of sleep. And now aware of the part of you that's awake, quality or awareness of the part of you that's awake as the body sleeps. Awareness of the part of you that's awake. Part of you that's awake, a silent observer or witness. Part of you that's remained watchful and undisturbed, unchanged, unbound.

Part of you that is just pure potential. Her throne is said to be in your own heart, as often visualized as a flame about the size of your own thumbnail resting in the very center of your heart. Soften the awareness to the very center of your chest and begin to see or recognize or remember that piece of you that is unbound, that light. And as you remember that small light, it begins to expand, radiating in every direction from the center of your chest. Just like the light or filament inside a light bulb can be quite small, its glow can fill an entire room.

See or experience that light radiating out, filling the space that surrounds you. Its radiance, its glow, a rose gold color surrounds and encompasses you. Feel yourself held within that light. That light carries with it every health, healing, love, peace that you may be searching for. That light is you, you are it, you are that.

Feel yourself held, supported, resting, subsumed by the light of who you really are. Feel yourself held, supported, subsumed by the light of who you really are. Feel yourself held, supported, subsumed by the light of who you really are. Feel yourself held, supported, subsumed by the light of who you really are. Feel yourself held, supported, subsumed by the light of who you really are.

Silently repeating that intention three times. So now the sensation as if that intention or sankopa has already taken residence in your cells and in your life, what would it feel like? And with gratitude, let it go. Remain still with the eyes closed, but begin to clearly see yourself resting in the room that you're in, bringing your awareness back gently. Begin to deepen the breath.

Gently draw the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, give it a little press. Gently wiggle the fingers and bring your palms together and just begin to rub the palms gently, meeting or noticing a bit of heat in between the palms. Staying put, just bring your palms over your closed eyes. Feel sense of that heat, that grounding begin to wash back down through your system. Mincing the grounding mantras and you can just feel to help root that awareness back down into your body, that remembrance.

Slide the hands down the sides of your face and jaw and to the back of your neck. Give your neck a little massage as you turn your head a little bit side to side. Lightly take one hand over the other hand over the throat, feel sense of that warmth bathing the structures of the throat, your speech, your communication. Slide the hands down over the heart center. Sense of that warmth, remembrance, bathing the heart, chest.

And if my teacher says to find yourself loving for no reason at all. Slide your hands down to your belly, navel, belly button, how we connect with our community, those around us. Bring that remembrance through those connections. Take your time to bend one knee at a time and place your feet on the floor or padding. Feel to one side, whatever side is easier for you, just rest in a fetal position.

You can feel the warmth on the sacrum, the lower part of the spine where you were resting. To bring abundance, abundance of all kinds. Keeping your eyes closed, just lazily bring yourself back to a seated position. And slide your hands to the crease line between your hip and thigh and give a good press down. Lift the heart high, you can draw your elbows back, bow your head to your heart.

To move through those obstacles with grace, efficiency, ease. Bring your palms together in front of the heart and bows to that wisdom, to that intelligence that resides within you. Bowing to your true teacher, your inner teacher, and the speak to heart.

Comments

Jenny S
1 person likes this.
Thank you Kristin For this beautiful practice. Yoga Nidra always hits the spot...after just an hour’s time I’m feeling as refreshed as if I’d had a full night’s sleep - actually feeling even better than after a full night’s sleep ! 🙏🏻❤️
Kristin Leal
1 person likes this.
That's amazing Jenny ! I have just fallen in love with practicing and teaching Yoga Nidra:) I'm so happy you love it too
Ali
Ali
I’ve been feeling out of sorts all day, so hoped that this might bring some ease. Feel serene and restored, and I don’t know where that hour went, even though I know I didn’t fall asleep. Your singing of mantra was utterly beautiful. Thank you Kristin.
Kristin Leal
Ali I'm so happy to hear that the Nidra worked well for you! Thank you for your kind words and for practicing with me:)
Rosanna S
1 person likes this.
Beautiful practice! I think I fell asleep a couple times. I completely missed the part between hearing sounds far away and stopping counting. Guess I needed some rest! It's been stressful here with losing a grandparent, parenting and homeschooling and also preparing for a big panel discussion next week, which I've never done before. My nervous system has been on overdrive! Thank you!
Kristin Leal
Thank you for being here Rosanna S ! I'm so sorry for your loss and I know you'll be great during the panel discussion! Wishing you all the best and lots of rest:)
Vera
Many thanks and much gratitude for this practice. 
Kristin Leal
Thanks Vera for being here and practicing with me!
Sandra Židan
Thanks, Kristin, for this nice calming practice! I loved it! Namaste! 💖
Kristin Leal
1 person likes this.
I’m so happy to hear that Sandra Židan ! Thanks for practicing with me:)

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