(waves crashing) I'd like to offer a really special practice that I feel is a gentle, loving way to spend time in the body even for those of us who aren't all that comfortable hangin' out there. One reason that it's very safe and a very lovely place to be is because it's actually a guided relaxation, guided visualization and we spend a lot of time becoming very, very relaxed. It's my take so to speak on an ancient practice called yoga nidra. I've sort of changed it up a bit so that we can explore together some of the points that I think are particularly, particularly connected to our journey through the body and body image. So in order to really experience the full benefits of this relaxation, go ahead and find whatever position you love.
Whatever is the most comfortable position for you. You can be in shavasana, if it feels better to be supported in like a supported, reclining butterfly pose, baddha konasana, you're welcome to do that as well. Just know that you'll be here for awhile and at any time you need to rearrange and recommit, please feel free to do that as well. The invitation is to stay awake and be aware and I shall remind you, I promise. So just finding that place in which your whole body can release into the earth, finding its relationship to gravity.
You may find if you're in shavasana that you just gently roll your shoulders into the earth a little bit. You may want your hands to be slightly away from the body with your palms up and I actually like to spread my legs pretty wide from the central axis of the body. It just, it's more relaxing for me and also I often put a bolster or a couple of rolled blankets under my knees to allow my lower back, my sacrum, to spread and feel supported on the earth, so yogi's choice. And once we're settled in just take a nice, deep breath in now and sigh it all the way out through your mouth. And again taking a nice, deep breath in.
Sigh it all the way out and bring your awareness to your forehead. Allow your forehead to soften down by your temples. Release your temples down past your ears and allow your eyes to sink further into your head, softening and releasing. Relax the bridge of your nose, your cheekbones and your chin. Moving to the inside of your mouth, release the upper jaw, the lower jaw and the tongue.
And as you settle onto the earth and feel the weight of the earth underneath you, begin to set an intention. We call this in yoga, we call it a san culpa and the invitation is to... To find something that you really, really hope for. Some, whatever that connection is that you're lacking. Picture it now whether it is a displeasure with a part of your body or an agitation over whatever it is or a desire to heal a certain riff.
Bring that into your awareness and name it as though it's already happened, you've already healed. And repeat that san culpa not as I'm going to feel better about this, I'm going to, but I am. Repeating it three times silently to yourself as you settle a little bit deeper in to your support. And once again taking a nice, deep breath in. Just sigh it all the way out through your fingertips and your toes.
And for the next few minutes I'm gonna take you on a journey through a variety of parts of your body. The invitation here is to not do anything, not wiggle them, not stretch them, not touch them but merely notice and perhaps release the effort just a little bit and relax a little bit more. So to begin the journey, let us bring your awareness to your thumb. Your pointer finger, your middle finger of your right hand. Your ring finger and your pinkie finger and all the separations between those fingers.
Bring your awareness to the palm of your right hand, perhaps feeling a bit of warmth and maybe even a little bit of vibration in the palm of your right hand. Begin to notice the back of the hand, the wrist and begin to move your awareness up the right inner, lower arm. Bringing your awareness to the elbow, the inner upper arm and the armpit. Bringing the awareness to the right shoulder as you move your attention all the way down the outside of your right arm, resting once again in the outer part of your right wrist. Bringing your awareness now to your right armpit and allow your awareness to move all the way down the right side of your body, resting on your right waist, the top of your right hip and on the outer edge of your right top leg and move your awareness into your knee, releasing and relaxing your right knee.
Moving down now the outside of your right lower leg to your right outer ankle. The outside of your right foot and move your awareness to your right pinkie toe, your ring toe, your middle toe, second toe and your big toe and allow your awareness to move around the back of your toes to the big toe pad and all the toe ball pads on the bottom of your foot. Becoming aware of your instep, your arch and the heel of your right foot as you move your awareness at the inside of your right ankle all the way up the inner leg to the inner knee, relaxing and releasing all effort. Moving again all the way up through the inner leg to the groin to the inner right groin, releasing and relaxing the effort. You are awake, you are aware and you are perfect just the way you are.
And now begin to bring your awareness to the left thumb. The left pointer finger, middle finger, ring finger and pinkie and all the spaces in between the fingers and bringing your awareness to the left palm, seeing perhaps if you can feel a slight energy. Maybe a warmth or a tingling right out through the center of your left palm. Moving the attention into the inner wrist all the way up the inner left arm to the elbow and beyond that up through the upper arm to the armpit and the left shoulder, bringing awareness, a sense of relaxation and a sense of connection to the whole left upper shoulder as you move down that arm to the outside of the upper arm to your elbow, the lower arm and rest once again in the upper part, in the top of your left wrist. You are awake, you are aware and you are perfect just the way you are.
And reconnecting once again to the left armpit, moving your awareness down the left side of the body centering in the left waist, the top of the left hip and all the way down the outer edge of your left leg, releasing and relaxing all effort in the left knee. Moving down the edge of the outside of the left lower leg to the outside ankle all along the outside of the foot to the pinkie toe, the ring toe and the middle toe, the second toe and the big toe and all the spaces in between. Moving the awareness to the pads of the foot and the bottom of your foot to the arch and the instep and the bottom of the left heel. And moving now to the inner ankle and all the way up the inner edge of the left leg to the inner knee up through the inner thigh to the left side of the groin, releasing and relaxing all effort in the groin, the pelvic floor and the inner thighs. You are awake and you are aware.
Bring your awareness now to the back of the head, releasing the effort, releasing the back of the head deep into the earth and move your awareness to the left eyebrow, the right eyebrow, the left eyelid and the right eyelid. The left eye and the right eye and moving down through the bridge of the nose to your cheeks, softening and releasing. Moving to the outer edge of the ears and the inner ear and the earlobes and moving the attention to the throat as you release the voice box a little bit deeper into the throat. Releasing the back of the shoulders and moving your awareness to the right arm, the left arm and both arms at once. The right leg, the left leg and both legs at once.
Becoming aware of the whole back of your body. Becoming aware of the front of your body and the whole body at once. And now move your awareness into the belly, taking a moment to soften and release all tension in the belly. Feeling the upper stomach and the lower belly and releasing them both. Move your awareness into the right chest, the right breast, the left chest and lung and the left breast, softening and releasing.
And now just take a moment to come back to your san culpa, come back to the intention that you set and revisit it now as you move a little bit deeper in to your experience. And now... Become very, very cold. Experience the sense of such freezing cold that you can't seem to get warm. It's that kind of cold that you get in a very wet, freezing winter where you just can't seem to warm up.
Feel that sense of chill as though you were embedded in a gigantic ice cube. And now move to experiencing heat, suddenly or so hot that you can't even imagine being able to endure such wicked heat. It's as though every pore of your body is sweating, you are so hot. And now move back to this cold, this frigid cold. Unrelenting, freezing cold where all you really want to do is take a hot bath, you feel so cold.
And switch to the heat, it just feels unbearably hot. Begin to soften, to cool, to warm. And now feel as though you're so heavy that you can't possibly lift any part of you. It's like you're cemented to the floor. It's like these little Lilliputian peoples came and nailed you to your mat.
You, everything about you, your arms, your legs, your head feels so heavy. And switch. Suddenly there's such a sense of lightness, such a sense of buoyancy that you can almost float right up off your mat. Everything about you feels like it's floating. You couldn't ground yourself if you wanted to.
Sense of light, airy buoyancy. And now let's move that into emotions. I invite you to feel the most joy you have ever felt in your life. Find that person, that something that is so easy to love that all you can do is just be filled up with this sense of joy that's beyond description. You can't stop smiling, you can't stop this sense of unmitigated joy.
And now the opposite. Feel a sense of incredible sorrow that's just overtaking you and every cell of your body is weeping. Nothing you can do but give over to this incredibly deep sense of sorrow. And now move back to joy. Move out of that sense and fill up those cells, fill up that space with what brings you joy, what connects you, what brings you love and dwell there.
And finally the invitation is to move into that place of the body, that place in the body that you have long sensed or maybe even recently felt has betrayed you. A place in the body that you perhaps have loathing for. Perhaps, whatever that sense of negativity and pushing away, move into the body and experience that sense of revulsion perhaps or pushing away or discomfort in that part of your body you just don't want to recognize. And then let's play with the opposite. What does it feel like to embrace and accept with such joy and tenderness and connection that hip, that breast, those cheeks, whatever?
Feel that sense of lightness and connection and joy and acceptance. Noticing the change in your breath perhaps, the change in the ability to stay awhile. And very, very slowly return to the whole body at once, feeling the sense of the body moving down into the safety of the earth, feeling supported, nurtured and healed. Returning to the breath, keeping the breath just natural now. Inhaling and exhaling, begin to feel the whole body in union with your mind, your heart and your breath.
And now bring your awareness to your heart space, inhaling and exhaling out of your heart as though your heart had nostrils, a nose of its own. So it's this inhale and exhale right from the center of your heart. The yogis call this special place the Cave of the Heart and it's interesting to visualize it as this sort of moving energy of, I think of it as red and moving and encased and enshrouded in fog. So that as I center there, as I move my awareness into the heart, can I begin to allow the fog to lift? Can you enter into the cave and settle there?
Because it's within the Cave of the Heart where your true nature, your loving, basic goodness resides. And taking a moment to be there and experience your loving, kind, compassionate and inclusive heart. What does it feel like to be tender with yourself? What does it feel like in the Cave of the Heart to offer generosity and patience? What does it feel like to experience kindness, kindness from yourself to yourself?
And as we settle there, as we embody that sense of kindness and compassion, tenderness and friendliness, there's a deep yoga practice that says don't keep that just for ourselves. What would it feel like to offer that up? An ancient practice is the practice of Ishvara Pranidhana, which means dedicating the merits of our practice to something other than ourselves. And so in a practice like this, as you have entered in to your experience so deeply, I invite you to offer that up to someone who perhaps could need just a little bit extra help today. Find that person whether it's a person that you so clearly connect to or if it's a person that's difficult for you, bring her or him into your heart.
And as you inhale, inhale that sense of connection, tenderness, love or joy or whatever your gift is and exhale that out to this person who's in your heart. And again just inhaling that sense of equanimity perhaps, relaxation, re-connection and exhale that out to the person who could use just a little bit more kindness, a little bit more love tonight. And then as you become aware not only of your own heart and your own spaciousness but the energy in the world around you, as you start to feel the air on your skin, feel almost the sound of your breath and the place of your body as it becomes heavy and centered on the earth, as you feel that connection with the environment around you, begin once again to inhale the sense of love and connection, support and kindness and exhale that out now for the benefit of all sentient beings. And as you move back into the world gently and slowly, begin to just notice the breath on its own. Not trying to change it, not trying to orchestrate it but simply let it be in stillness and in calm.
If it serves you, stay here for as long as you like basking in the sense of connection, the sense of warmth, the sense of deep understanding. And whenever you're ready simply very, very slowly begin to bend your knees and roll very gently off to the right side and simply be here while your body continues to receive the gifts of your practice. And after a few breaths, very, very slowly begin to push up to a seated position. One in which you feel that sense of connection to the earth as your spine rises up through, sort of skyward so it's that sense of steadiness and ease. Closing your eyes, coming once again back to the breath.
You are awake, you are aware and you are perfect just the way you are. Now on your next inhale, just inhale those arms up overhead touching palms together. Exhale hands to heart in gratitude for your body, your mind and your amazing heart. Namaste.
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