Soothing the Nervous System Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 2

Ground and Arrive

60 min - Practice


Becoming more masterful of our nervous systems, and more discerning in our responses. Join Kristin as we ground into the present moment in an opening seated meditation before a brief talk on the nervous system. Then Kristin guides us in a Yoga Nidra practice to help us settle the mind, release tension, let go of old patterns, and approach our deeper selves. You will feel clear and at ease.

You can follow along with the Grounding Mantras at the end of each class by accessing the PDF attached below.

What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Welcome, welcome to my tiny apartment in New York City and I'm so excited to share the first class in the series of Soothing the Nervous System. So we'll just take a few moments to gather up what you might need for class maybe a pen and paper if you'd like to take notes, something to sit on and then a little later we're going to do a practice of yoga in the dress so something may be comfortable to rest upon so some pillows blankets maybe taking a moment to turn off your phone anything like that that will help prepare you and set yourself up for success. So we'll take a few moments to get gathered up and as you're ready you'll just choose a good comfortable seat and you can sit up on some padding maybe a pillow or bolster couch cushion whatever you have handy if you're in the chair maybe just scooting to the edge of the chair so your feet could be flat on the floor. Thank you so much for being here. So arrange yourself in the most comfortable seat that will work for you for just a couple of moments.

It won't be here too long but it's worth being comfortable. I always think it's nice to stop before we start so find a place where you can be still steady in your seat you can start with your palms facing down on your knees or thighs can elongate your spine feel the chest broaden the shoulders just glide a bit easier away from your ears and as you feel ready if comfortable you can close your eyes so in this series of classes we're gonna talk a lot about becoming more masterful of our nervous system to become discerning in our choices of how best to forge a stronger relationship with your body your nervous system and even the the present moment and all of that starts by just fully embodying where you are and can't be discerning if you're projecting about what might happen in the future or cycling and circling around what happened in the past that wisdom that intelligence only heard in this present moment so let's just start by finding some stillness in our body and just starting to hug the level of your awareness into the room you'll notice the mind trying to project to what came before what's coming later as soon as you note those things just start to tether yourself back compassionately to the reality of right now you might note any physical sensations in your body maybe the qualities of your breath in its natural state maybe the qualities of your mind no particular need to judge any of those things or fix them just start the process of tethering back to where you are which as yogis we believe is the way to have a direct experience of who we are as you allow things to start settling just taking one hand to the center of your chest or heart center and the other hand just place your fingertips somewhere on the floor either by your side or in front of you wherever you can reach and start to hone the level of your attention to what you feel giving yourself an opportunity to just feel what you feel so maybe it's physical sensation maybe it's the beat of your heart pulse at the fingertips sensation of your clothing floor or skin maybe your awareness starts to become a bit more subtle perceive the heat on the skin of energy prana we might call it in yoga terms electricity vibration just inherent in these gestures might notice a certain emotion feeling mood and as you allow yourself to feel the roots of your body connection to the earth into your own heart and all the transience within thought mood emotion sensation maybe you even start to get a little glimpse of the part of you that's observing the part of you that's watching untouched unbound part of you that is pure potential let's take just a slower deeper more luxurious slide of breath in and out through the nose can join your palms together in front of your heart and just bowing your head towards that remembrance of where you are of who you are take your time as you feel ready you can start to flutter your eyes open we just gaze at one point on the floor first then allowing your awareness to move back into your room back together much better alright so in this series of soothing the nervous system we're going to start to look at different maps and models of how we can address our own experience of moving through the world in these bodies to become more masterful of our own nervous system so that we can choose ultimately so we can develop a little pause I call it the sacred pause so that we can become discerning and choose the response rather than being led by patterns some scars those around us what's going on around us we can become more discerning individuals and more masterful of our own choices and to do that we are going to use the map or model of the nervous system and all of its bits and bobs all of its glory and today I just want to start talking about really just what is the nervous system in in and of itself you know as as anatomy people as yoga people one way to learn is to dissect things into smaller pieces you know to bring to make little categories so it looks nice in our notebooks we looks nice in the little container store of our own mind to organize bits for study and so the nervous system just like that it's tempting to start separating it dividing it categorizing it we will do that but hopefully keeping our view large that everything is interconnected and interwoven and interdependent our physical and energetic models are connected our body parts are connected our body systems are connected so this nervous system I think of as like a giant octopus with hundreds of thousands of tentacles reaching into every body system every pore every organ every gland parts of the circulatory system and the respiratory system intimately connected through your nervous system and it has kind of a few different main jobs that it likes to do so it takes in information through all of your sense organs so it takes it in through the eyes through the ears the mouth the nose the skin right through touch and joint position body position and it takes in all of this information it's hungry for information right so it's searching out information at all times and then that information gets filtered so that you can determine what to do with it it gets filtered through a bunch of different lenses right through of course your brain which is organized into some nice bits that we can study but deeper it gets shown through a lens of your own your own perspectives your own patterns your own what you think you know to be true right your own these grooves and memories right it gets filtered through those lenses it also gets filtered through your sense of I ness your sense of separateness which we then start to attach a bunch of different labels to right so all this information coming in gets filtered through my Kristin ness and then I can even get fancier and start slapping on the label of woman ness or American ness or teacher ness you know yogi ness and it gets filtered through those lenses as it tries to determine what to do with that information and then way back sometimes quite quiet sometimes quite loud there's a little part of us that is discerning that is the inner teacher that is wisdom or intuition that is knowing right sometimes she's quiet and we'll learn how to listen to her a little bit better a little bit stronger relationship with her right because she's not so confused by all the labels and separateness and then the job of the nervous system once it determines what to do with all that stimulus all that stuff coming in it then chooses a response whether it's a muscle response and action whether it's a gland releasing a hormone whether it's to communicate down the path of those neurons to the next waiting neuron it determines a response right so through this series we're going to learn how to become more masterful of that series of events so that we can choose a response that nurtures us that that is more purposeful or more efficient and and maybe even that more closely resembles who we really are yeah and it all starts with knowing where you are with grounding right so that you can be discerning so that you can see a little bit clearer I always have this image it's like you're carrying around a snow globe all day long and you're shaking it up and shaking it up and shaking it up and shaking it up and you finally get to put it back down on the shelf right when all of that stuff is swirling around you can't see very well you can even get confused and what's behind it right you let it settle you let all of the snow and the snow globe fall you let gravity take it and then you can begin to see things more clearly right and that's the practice that we're going to do today the practice of yoga nidra so you don't need anything too fancy for the practice if you have a place where you can lie down on your back you can just start to set that up now for whatever reason lying on your back is not an option can rest on one side like in a fetal position you could set yourself up hugging pillows to make that uber comfortable if you want to do this in a chair seated that's also okay but if you can come down onto your back it might be more comfortable if you're on your back sliding something under your knees is helpful so you could just be more comfortable and making sure that you're going to be warm so maybe a blanket or something light on top of you if your room is particularly bright you can put a scarf or piece of clothing a sock or something over your eyes to block out some of the ambient light give you just a few moments to make any final adjustments as you get cozy settled in just start to arrange the body purposely so you can widen the heels a little wider than your hips and just turn your legs in and out and in and out a few times so you really feel like you can let go of any grabbing or grasping in the front of the hips or pelvis you can arrange your buttock flesh so it feels more or less symmetrical underneath both halves of your pelvis without having to get too fussy about that as you arrange your spine just feel a little lightness of your lower backbones away from the floor upper backbones just pooling into the floor arms a little bit away from you turning your palms to face up drawing your shoulder blades just a smidge underneath you not too much just a little there's no need to overly rotate the arms so just let the thumbs be a little bit higher than the pinky fingers do a little bobblehead action in your head and neck feel there's a little breeze underneath your neckbones any final adjustments closing your eyes and then allowing yourself just to fall into stillness to help bring you to a quieter place inside just take a deep breath in through your nose just fill up like a giant balloon keep breathing in more and more and more fill in more than you think you can the top of the inhale just hold for a moment comfortably just hold and then exhale through an open mouth sighing out feel the body and get a little heavier let's just do that two more times taking a deep breath in filling up more than you think you can whole body inflates like a giant balloon then as ready exhale through an open mouth sighing out releasing every little last stitch of breath one more time deep breath in really luxuriate in the breath sipping in all the breath whole body breathing in and exhale open the mouth sighing out letting go and then just let the breath move back into an unfust with version no particular technique just let it grow quieter most likely more shallow on its own move through the body tensing and relaxing different muscles so that we allow ourselves to rest a bit quieter in our body helping us let go of any physically held attention in the tissues of the body bring your awareness into the muscles of your face jaw mouth and tongue and just begin to squish up the muscles of your face to squeeze your eyes forehead wrinkle your nose clench your jaw purse your lips together you can even press your tongue up to the roof of your mouth no one's looking make a weird weird weird face squeeze all the muscles of your face and hold squeeze tight tight tight tight tight and then allow the muscles of the face to relax jaw softens lips might even part tongue falls to the floor of the mouth behind the lower set of teeth feel the brow smooth towards the temples temples sliding towards the ears ears sliding towards the floor whole face relaxes and draw the awareness into the right arm and hand curl the right hand fingers into the palms squeezing the right hand into a fist feel the muscles contract up through the right forearm and upper arm into the right shoulder squeeze all of the muscles of the right hand and arm tight tight tight squeeze and hold squeeze squeeze and now release the muscles of the right arm and hand the entire right arm heavy and soft the right arm heavy soft and now the right leg squeeze the right toes into a little toe fist squeezing the right arch ankle calf squeezing the muscles around the right knee and right thigh even into the right hip and seat squeeze and hug all of the muscles of the right leg towards the bone hugging them tight tighten all the muscles of the right leg and hold tight and now release release all of the muscles of the right hip and thigh shin right foot all of the muscles of the right leg released the right leg heavy soft whole right leg heavy and now the left hand curl the left fingers into the palm squeeze the muscles of the left hand and forearm and upper arm left shoulder all of the muscles of the left arm squeeze if the muscles are hugging tight to the bone squeeze and hold all of the muscles of the left arm tight tight tight squeeze hold and now release release all of the muscles of the left arm and hand the entire left arm relaxes left arm heavy the whole left arm heavy and soft the whole left arm heavy left leg curl the left toes into a little toe fist squeeze the muscles of the left foot ankle shin calf around the left knee let it rise into the muscles of the left thigh and left hip even the left seat buttock hug all the muscles of your left leg tight to the bone contracting all of the muscles of the left leg holding them tight tight tight hold even tighter hold and now release release all of the muscles of the left leg all of the muscles of the left leg release and soften left leg relaxed and heavy soft entire left leg released bring the awareness into your abdomen squeeze all of the muscles of the belly towards the spine squeezing all of your abdominal muscles even a sense that you're squeezing the abdominal organs towards the spine squeeze all of those belly muscles tight tight tight tighter hold squeezing squeezing tight all of the muscles of the belly tight tight and now release release the muscles of the abdomen now I'll go the other way imagine the belly stretching away from your spine if the belly is a big balloon kind of expanding outward the belly taut and round and full think the belly taut and round and full and hold hold hold hold and then release release the belly all of the belly muscles soften now even a sense of the organs themselves falling towards the back body towards the floor abdomen soft relaxed feel now your chest and heart spacious clear throat and neck spacious and open the whole body now at ease feel the whole body at ease feel the parts of the body that are in connection to the floor underneath underneath you the unique placement of your heels on the earth a particular place of the calf or thigh and its connection to your padding or floor the part of your seat the unique placement of the parts of the spine that you feel in direct connection to the earth underneath you feel the parts of the shoulder back of the arm or back of the hand and its connection a part of the head that's resting on the earth below and feeling all of these parts of the body as if they're little drains that you can pour out any heaviness fatigue tension holding efforting can allow that to pour down through those little drains into the earth herself keeping the breath relaxed just notice that as you exhale naturally the body can grow heavier as if it's being drawn to the very center of the earth every exhale the body claimed by the earth and notice with every natural inhale the earth rises up to meet you to hold you support or cradle you every time you exhale body heavy drawn down into the earth in which it belongs every inhale earth the floor rising up to support and meet you to hold you to support you to hold you to support and meet you to hold you to support and meet you to hold you to support and meet you to support and meet you to support and meet you to support every exhale body heavy every inhale earth rising up to meet you ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya you're not out there, you're Bring the awareness behind the navel and begin to visualize or see an almond-shaped flame staying right behind your navel. You can feel its warmth. You can see its radiance, its glow. Begin to inhabit the body as if that light, that warmth can begin to radiate out and fill your own body. Maybe it even expands to a field around you. This golden light surrounds you almost as if you're resting inside of a golden egg. You feel the light that's within you, the light around you, beginning to blur the distinction of the perimeter of your skin. What is you? What is not you? It softens that line so that you remember your wholeness. This light carries with it every peace, healing, wisdom, love, that you may be searching for because that light is you. You are it. Rest in that remembrance of who you are. Rest in that remembrance of who you are. Rest in that remembrance of who you are. Rest in that remembrance of who you are. Rest in that remembrance of who you are. Rest in that remembrance of who you are. Returning now your awareness towards your body. Without moving or opening the eyes, just clearly see your body resting here. Clearly seeing your body in the room that surrounds it.

Begin to gently deepen the breath. Draw your tongue to the roof of your mouth and just give it a little press. Slowly moving your thumb over each fingertip. Keeping your eyes closed, just start to lift your hands and rub your palms there, noticing the heat or creating a little bit of heat in between your palms. We'll move this awareness systematically back down through our system so we keep the practice with us and keep the remembrance with us. Keep the eyes closed and now just take the palms and cover your closed eyes. Feel a sense of that heat, energy, awareness permeate the back of each eye through the brain of the faith. I'm going to sing the grounding mantras. You can just listen and feel. Slide the hands down the sides of your face and jaw into the back of your neck. You can turn your head a little side to side. Just sliding the hands in some way over your throat. Sense of that recognition, remembrance, a sense of the practice moving back down into your areas of speech, communication. Slide the hands down over the heart center, center of your chest. Feel a sense of that heat or awareness, move back down permeating the heart, chest, shoulders and arms. To the center that one of my teachers says, to find yourself loving for no reason at all.

Sliding the hands down over your belly, navel center. Feeling that awareness wash down through your abdomen, organs. The navel center representing how we connect to our communities, connect to others. Slide the hands down over your lower belly and to slice through obstacles. Durga on her tiger slices through the jungle. Om dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum. Bend one knee at a time placing your feet on the floor or pillow. Take your time to roll to one side whatever side is easier. Just curl into a fetal position. You can create a little pillow with your arm for your head. If you stay in that fetal position just feel where your sacrum or lower part of your spine was resting on the floor. It might feel warm or tingly.

Bringing the practice back down to this region to bring abundance, abundance of all kinds of health wealth into our system. Keeping your head heavy, eyes closed or hazy, just use your hands to guide yourself slowly back into a seated position. Take your time. You can draw your hands back into the crease line between your hip and thighs and just give a little press down. You can draw your elbows back slightly, you can lift the heart, bringing your chin a bit down towards your chest. Take a few deep, slow nourishing breaths in and out through the nose. Re-rude the practice, this remembrance back down to the very roots of your own body. And then to close just take one hand onto your heart, the other fingertips to the floor somewhere in front of you or by your side. Keeping the eyes closed, just notice your after picture, noting any physical sensations you feel in your body. The presence of your breath, qualities of your mind in this moment of now. Notice your heart, motion or mood.

Notice the shifts from the beginning of our practice and notice the part of you that has remained steady, the observer or witness, part of you that is unbound, infinite potential. Hold on to that awareness as you bring your hands together in front of your heart, bowing your head towards that inner teacher. Thank you so much for being here. Namaste.


Jenny S
5 people like this.
This is what we all need now...I was feeling fearful and quite sad today, a feeling of helplessness that has gripped me during these unpredictable times. Your soothing voice guiding my mind and body through this yoga nidra finds me feeling much, much more hopeful and clear headed. I highly recommend carving out an hour for this nourishing practice ☮️💟🕉
Jenny S
3 people like this.
PS: loved the animal companion sighting - what a beauty!
Petra L
2 people like this.
Thank you so much Kristin, I really enjoy the mix of meditation, explanation of the nervous ssytem and the finsh with a Nidra. I have used it morning, midday and during that 4am when I least wish to be awake. 
Kristin Leal
wow amazing Petra  I'm so happy that you are finding the practice helpful! Every class in this series will be sequenced this way!
Kristin Leal
1 person likes this.
Oh Jenny me too:) These are very challenging times and I've had to double down on my practice lately. I hope that you find the rest of the series helpful too. And yes my kitty is the real star of the show and he won't let me forget it  teehee
1 person likes this.
Wonderful  practice Kristin, I feel amazing!
Kristin Leal
Katrin I'm so happy to hear that! Thanks for practicing with me:)
Lorraine Marek
You eased my anxiety after a fearful day of returning to teaching yoga under these stressful circumstances 
Lorraine Winnipeg, canada
Kristin Leal
ah Lorraine ! I haven't returned to in-person classes yet (I'm based in NYC) I can imagine how stressful that is. I'm very happy to hear you are taking care of yourself with Nidra:)
Jennifer M
2 people like this.
WOW you are in NYC. I would love to take class in person one day. Do you teach in NYC!! that would make my day :)
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