Coping with Trauma: The Exhale

Kat Nicholls
By Kat Nicholls,
updated on Apr 17, 2024

Woman lying down surrounded by rose petals

Enjoy this yoga nidra practice to feel a sense of safety and security in your body

Last week on the podcast we explored the complex issue of trauma. Joined by yoga teacher, Reiki practitioner and author Sarah Wheeler and clinical psychologist Dr Joe Barker we discussed how trauma can affect us and some of the approaches that can help.

In the episode, Sarah discussed the role of holistic therapies in her recovery, including yoga nidra. Today, in our exhale episode, Sarah is sharing a yoga nidra practice. This is a restful and calm practice, so ensure you listen to this when you have space and time to fully switch off. Listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Note: Please don’t listen while driving.


Kat: Hello everyone and welcome to another exhale episode here on Finding What Works. Today you're in for a real treat because we have Sarah Wheeler who is a Reiki teacher and practitioner talking us through a yoga nidra practice. 

So last week Sarah joined our conversation about trauma, talking through some of the different things that supported her, including holistic practices like yoga nidra. So if you haven't already, make sure you head back into your podcast app and give that episode a listen before you explore this really lovely practice. 

And please do ensure you are not listening to this while driving. Give yourself the time and space to fully appreciate it. I'm going to leave you now in Sarah's capable hands. Please enjoy. 

Sarah: Hello, welcome to this yoga nidra practice. My name's Sarah and I'm going to be guiding you today. Firstly, I just wanna say to you, give yourself a literal or metaphorical thumbs up for carving out some time to dedicate to yourself and for experiencing rest. You'll want to take part in this practice in a place where you won't be disturbed. 

So that could be lying on your bed. You could lay on the ground. You might even like to make what's called a yoga nidra nest. And that's done by gathering lots of really comfy things. So you might have pillows or even a yoga bolster, various blankets and anything that you can put together to support all the areas of your body. But it's enough just to have a folded blanket or cushion behind your head, but also know that you can practise yoga nidra sitting up if you prefer to, and you don't even have to close your eyes if that doesn't feel good today. So feel free to pause this recording, gather any of your bits that you need for nesting material from around your place. And whenever you are ready, we can begin. 

Starting to notice all of the places where your body connects with the supports, either being seated or laying back, becoming aware of the space at the back of your head and wherever it connects. The length of the back of your neck, a hole expanse across your shoulders, the length and width of your back, your arms and hands supported. The low back, your buttocks, the length of your legs, wherever your feet are. 

Sweetly, kindly drifting your attention onto the front of your body, allowing your awareness or your attention to settle for a few moments at the belly and allowing even just half a percent of softening into your belly. Attention drifting upwards now onto the centre of your chest, the heart space and welcoming in half a percent more softening all over the centre of your chest. Staying a moment more to witness and receive this place where your body is at. 

Rest all of the connections that have you supported, allowing your attention to drift to notice any sounds. It could be the sounds that are immediately in the room with you, sounds that are outside, maybe even the little sounds that might get picked up on this recording. Awareness drifts to the sounds and we just let them be there. Letting awareness move from sound to sound. Beginning to call your attention, your awareness more inward now and letting your attention land on your breath. 

You don't need to try and change your breath, we just let it be how it is. If the breath is short, let it be that way. If it's longer, smoother, let it be like that. You might notice the delicate natural rise and little inflation of your belly as you breathe in and the slight subsiding or shift in energy as you exhale. So on your own for probably just under a minute. 

Now, witnessing the rise before as tides of breath as they come in and out. Beginning to create some change now with your breath. So the idea is that you allow your inhale and exhale to roll in and out of your nose. You can let your lips be lightly touched together, softening the tongue in your mouth, and you'll be enticing your inhale to last for your count four. And the exhale lasting for the same count of four. Continuing to let these tides of your in and out breath last for your count of four for just under a minute or so. 

Any effort with this pattern of breath just fades into the background and allowing the breath to come back into its new neutral. And shortly you'll begin to count down one number starting with each exhale, starting at the number 13, counting down one number with each exhale. 

Wherever you've come to you with this counting now, let that go. Giving the body permission to fall asleep, giving the mind permission to fall asleep while consciousness remains awake and aware and we'll begin to rotate consciousness around the body. And at each point that is mentioned, you'll see, feel, or experience a point of rose-coloured light.

At the centre of the head at the midbrain, a point of rose-coloured light. The throat centre rose light, right shoulder rose light, right elbow, right wrist. The tip of the right-hand thumb, first finger, second finger. Third finger. Pinky finger. Right wrist, right elbow, right shoulder. Throat centre, left shoulder, left elbow, left wrist. The tip of the left-hand thumb, first finger, second finger. Third finger. Pinky finger. Left wrist. Left elbow. Left shoulder. Throat centre, centre of the chest, right side of the chest, centre of the chest, left side of the chest. Centre of the chest. Navel centre. The bowl of the pelvis. Right hip, right knee, right ankle, right big toe, first toe, second toe, third toe, pinky toe, right ankle, right knee, right hip, pelvis centre, left hip, left knee, left ankle left. Big toe, first toe, second toe, third toe pinky toe, left ankle, left knee, left hip. Centre of the pelvis, naval centre, the centre of the chest, deep in the back of your heart, throat centre, the centre of the head at the midbrain, the right side of your jaw, left side of the dual right nostril, a left nostril, the bridge of the nose, the space between the eyebrows, the outside of the right eye, outside of the left eye, the centre of the forehead, the crown of the head. 

All of these points together, a constellation of rose-coloured light. All of these points begin to soften and being blanketed in the warmth of this rose-coloured light. Welcoming your breath in just a little bit more deeply, witnessing the rise and fall of the belly with the breath and becoming gently aware of sounds that are in the vicinity and aware of the connections of the back of your body or wherever you are supported and touching your tongue onto the roof of your mouth and making circles, connecting your thumbs to the inside of each finger. And letting the thumb brush each fingertip. In turn, having an awareness of the right hemisphere of your brain and the left hemisphere of the brain, and the right side of your body and the left. And welcoming in tiny movements that feel resonant for you to gradually help you awaken. 

Of course, if you're using this yoga nidra to help support with sleep, just stay as you are. You are obviously free to shift your position to help you rest. And if you feel too, you could touch your hands together, connecting the palms. It's Anja mudra, placing the palms down, one on top of the other and the centre of the chest, your heart centre, and witnessing the breath as it touches into your hands, acknowledging yourself for your practice. And I thank you so much for your time. 

Kat: There we go. I really hope you enjoyed that moment of restoration. Please do ensure you take care of yourself as you move on with the rest of your day. And I'll be back next week for an episode all about empowerment. Until then, take care.

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