AD: That it’s not so different from a yoga asana (pose) practice. Asana isn’t simply about moving our bodies. Through movement we can train ourselves to inhabit our bodies with awareness and compassion. In practicing Yoga Nidra we invite that quality of awareness to the active experience of deep relaxation. This isn’t always easy to do, many of us will auto-pilot into sleep (which is okay, too!) But we can learn to enter a state consciousness that maintains awareness in the midst of deep relaxation. From there, we’re able to intentionally release accumulated layers of physical, emotional and spiritual tension.
EB: I know you teach a lot of mindfulness. How has mindfulness specifically been helpful in your own life?
AD: What I didn’t see coming, when I hopped on the mindfulness path, was how it would inspire a radically kinder relationship with myself, and in turn with others. I came to appreciate that I was like a lot of folks - I lived with a harsh inner critic. I found that a primal part of me was bent on self-protection in ways that could be awfully bruising at times. I got a taste though of how much more powerful an approach like compassion can be in helping me live my values and connect more deeply with others.
EB: Who most benefits most from your approach to mindfulness practice?
AD: People interested in exploring how to respond to life with wisdom and care. There’s a certain level of simplicity to mindfulness but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, nor always comfortable. I bring a bit of levity, a dose of gentleness, and a sense of shared humanity to my classes to help foster exploring this path with compassion and curiosity.
Ashley Dahl, MSW, is a visiting teacher at unfold. She is a champion of compassionate self-awareness, and she possesses a keen ability to infuse mindfulness into daily life and relationships. She brings humor and a presence of calm thoughtfulness as she blends the teachings of wisdom traditions and science with modern culture. Ashley is trained in mindfulness meditation through the Mindfulness Training Institute, studying under Mark Coleman and Martin Aylward.
You can attend any of these great programs she's offering this summer:
Relax & Restore with Yoga Nidra: Summer Edition
or Waking-Up: Mini Mindfulness Intensives
Written by teachers at unfold studios and guest authors.