Your 5-Day Yoga Nidra Rest 'Cleanse' Is Here

Photo: BONNINSTUDIO

Karen Brody’s first book, Daring to Rest, focuses on teaching a 40-day protocol based on the principles of yoga nidra designed to help women find their true calling. Here, she has adapted a shorter 5-day rest cleanse from the book​


On the spectrum of restorative practice, yoga nidra falls somewhere between sleep, mediation, and present moment awareness. Many people use yoga nidra meditations to fall asleep, but traditionally the body is asleep while the mind is awake and aware. This is therapeutic for the nervous system, which needs to be in a resting, parasympathetic state for healing to begin.

That's the challenge today: Demands on our attention are higher than ever before, and I believe rest is the antidote. As a certified and experienced yoga nidra teacher, I've seen firsthand the power of this practice to heal and transform lives. Nowadays inviting more space into your life actually means doing less. You don't even need a full hour of yoga nidra to experience the benefits of it. In my new book, Daring to Rest, I share a 40-day protocol that breaks each day into easy, digestible actions that will help you heal your physical and emotional bodies, ultimately setting you up for better rest.

This five-day rest cleanse is an abbreviated version of (and hopefully an introduction to) a resting practice. It's designed to help you begin to create an oasis to break the cycle of fatigue and gain the courage to lead a life full of purpose from a well-rested place. The protocol is divided into three phases, reflecting the key pillars I've found to be important in this practice. Think of them as the three layers of exhaustion we hold: physical exhaustion, emotional exhaustion, and spiritual exhaustion. Through yoga nidra meditation, and a few other optional practices offered here, this five-day rest cleanse helps you effectively "clean up" and revive each layer of exhaustion.

Here's what to expect.

Each day you’ll lie down and practice a minimum of 15 minutes of yoga nidra meditation. After yoga nidra, you’ll identify what I call a "soul whisper." To do this, breathe in through your heart, imagine your breath guiding you to an area of your body, and then see if there is a word, image, or phrase that appears. Write down whatever you received. If you get nothing, that’s OK; write down the word nothing. You can download the first yoga nidra meditation below—this will prompt you to listen for a soul whisper at the end of the meditation.

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Prepare your "rest cave" with the essentials.

This is when you need to prepare your rest cave, a quiet space for yoga nidra meditation. The only props you absolutely need are:

  • a surface to lie down or sit
  • a guided yoga nidra meditation (like the one above)
  • an extra layer of clothing or blanket because the body loses heat when lying down

These props enhance the experience but are nice-to-haves and not essentials. That said, people often ask me what props and tools I like, so here's a brief list:

  • an eye pillow
  • a bolster or pillows underneath your knees
  • a calming essential oil
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Rest: Physical Exhaustion.

The first layer of exhaustion to explore is in the body and our energetic field, because exhaustion often feels physical first. The emphasis during this phase is to deeply relax and start sleeping better. During yoga nidra, you will be prompted to repeat an intention. If this is the first time practicing yoga nidra, I invite you to try, "I am well-rested."

Day 1: Clean the Physical Body.

  • 15-minute yoga nidra meditation, focusing on your chosen intention or "I am well-rested."
  • Tip: Wear the color red to start feeling deeply rested, safe, and grounded.
  • Journal: Where in the body do you feel safe, and where don’t you feel safe?

Day 2: Clean the Energy Body.

  • 15-minute yoga nidra meditation, focusing on your chosen intention or "I am well-rested."
  • Tip: Wear orange clothing to begin to tap into your life force, vitality, and rhythm.
  • Journal: What are some of the ways you can slow down?
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Release: Emotional Exhaustion.

The secondlayer of exhaustion is emotional. Have you been holding on to feelings or thoughts that no longer serve you? You’re not alone. Yoga nidra helps you release exhausting and often cyclical emotions and thoughts.

Day 3: Clean the Mental Body.

  • 15-minute yoga nidra meditation, focusing on your chosen intention or "I am well-rested."
  • Tip: Wear yellow to start transforming the mind, activating your personal power, and greeting emotions.
  • Journal: Write about what darkness means to you. Then write about light.

Day 4: Clean the Wisdom Body.

  • 15-minute yoga nidra meditation, focusing on your chosen intention or "I am well-rested."
  • Tip: Wear white or indigo to help activate the soul and begin to give rise to your intuition, self-trust, and a higher consciousness.
  • Journal: If your intuition could speak, what would it say?

Day 5: Clean the Bliss Body.

  • 15-minute yoga nidra meditation, focusing on your chosen intention or "I am well-rested."
  • Tip: Wear pink or green to activate heart energy and give rise to a spiritual connectedness, freedom from suffering, and life-purpose connection.
  • Journal: Who are you on the inside, when outer distractions fall away? How would you like to expand that version of yourself?

Rise: Life-Purpose Exhaustion.

Don’t even know what it is? Yep, that’s exhausting. Post-cleanse is an excellent time to dream big about your life and start outlining your vision to rise up to your best self.

Coming off the cleanse, don't be afraid to dream. BIG.

Make yourself a cup of tea or something nice to drink. Review all your journal entries. Circle words and phrases that stand out to you. These are bonus soul whispers. Do this as quickly as you can, so you don’t enter your thinking mind. Add whatever you circled to the five soul whispers you received during the cleanse. Then place all these words on separate pieces of paper in a jar. Close your eyes, breathe in and out threading the breath through your heart, and then with your left hand pick a piece of paper from your jar. Consider how this fits into your big dream in life. If the soul whisper feels negative, then use the opposite. (for example, if it was "scared" then use "brave"). Write down three ways you will commit to your big dream. Let go of obstacles for a moment and journal about your big dream or draw a picture of it. Place it somewhere you can see or read it every day.

Do's and don'ts for your rest cleanse:

  • Do schedule it. Decide when you will practice yoga nidra meditation, and put in on your calendar for each day. The best time to practice is when it’s most convenient for you, but many people like to practice in either the morning upon waking or just before bed.
  • Do set up a designated spot to rest.
  • Do keep a journal. You can record your soul whispers here and respond to each day’s journal prompt. If you don’t like writing, then draw your response to the journal prompt, or even take voice memos on your phone.
  • Don’t worry if you fall asleep. Falling asleep is actually quite common the first few times people practice yoga nidra. If you do fall asleep, it’s OK—your subconscious mind will still receive the instructions, and you will benefit. But ideally you don’t want to fall asleep. So try practicing while seated in a chair and then, when you stop falling asleep, return to doing yoga nidra lying down. Or if you prefer lying down, try stacking your wrist and hand on top of your elbow, so your hand is in the air. It should be relatively effortless, but engaging enough to keep your mind awake.

Audio meditation courtesy of Sounds True. For more information and to access the additional yoga nidra meditations available, check out Karen Brody's new book, Daring to Rest: Reclaim Your Power With Yoga Nidra Rest Meditation.

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