Discover Orlees offers on Wanderlust TV: Yin, Breathe, Chillax and her new course Deep Rest for Stress.
March is the National Sleep Awareness Month. That’s why we’re excited to publish your course on Wanderlust TV, Deep Rest for Stress. What forced you to join the Yoga Nidra world when you trained as a yoga teacher?
A few years after my RYT certification, I was introduced to the modality of Yoga Nidra through my first meditation training. I thought it would be the best thing to feel asleep but hear every word the moderator said and in the end somehow wake up with everyone else. “How does this magic work?” I thought. However, I quickly learned my difficulties in practice. I had such a lack of confidence that I couldn’t fully immerse myself in the practice. Realizing this, I was drawn to delve deeper to witness and understand my process of learning of trust. My responses to life experiences softened and my sleep became more regulated. I was sold!
Why is rest important?
Rest is so incredibly important because it is the time when we humans are supposed to restore energy and recharge. It is used during the day so we can do it again tomorrow. When we really rest, we replenish hormones that help clear the build-up of stress and regenerate our immune system, strength, and memory, to name a few. We usually go to bed with stress and invasive thoughts. We are not preparing for real rest. Yoga Nidra sets the conditions for restful calm.
How would you recommend someone prioritize their rest, sleep, or time to relax during this unusual, home-connected, ever-connected, yet socially distant time? Do you have any special techniques or hacks to limit this personal time?
I’m an early riser, I’ve always been. By default, I’m also a “yes man”. Even before the Covid, I would lose so much sleep that I didn’t have to say “no” about hanging out with friends or doing more work. Yoga Nidra has helped me regulate my sleep a little more. But what’s more, practice has given me an attitude towards what I like to call a “gentle approach”. I didn’t even realize it until I was cornered at a moment in my life where I had to juggle college, that teaching / coaching career, and six weeks full-time in my family business because someone got sick. I thought, “How do I do all of this?” How many of us recognize this thought?
So I set limits – which I only realized with a little practice – that may sound ridiculous and not understood by others, but make sense to me. I had to agree not to please others. I went to bed at 8 p.m. and woke up at 4 a.m. every day. One could ask: “But how?” There are so many distractions. IPhone has technology that allows you to set your bedtime. It takes a few extra clicks to turn your phone on when it’s after bed. That really helps me. You can also turn your phone on to grayscale. Grayscale doesn’t speak that much to the reward part of our brain and hence the phone isn’t that irresistible. I also keep my phone on do not disturb. If you need to be on your screen fairly late at night, I highly recommend glasses for your screen.
To what extent has the pandemic brought the classic yoga teachings into sharp, tangible focus for you, if at all?
The classical yoga teachings, or even more Buddhist teachings, that really became clear to me, is the importance we attach to things and equanimity. At the beginning of the pandemic, things became unsafe. Fear is rooted in uncertainty I didn’t know what was going to happen to my job and my family’s jobs, and my mother was hospitalized with a broken hip and then recovered in a nursing home (“scary place”). If I was to mentally survive this I had to step into feeling what it feels like to dislike this while not arguing with the reality that it is undoubtedly here – fear / insecurity and displeasure. It goes without saying that I have a spiritual community to witness and a therapist to facilitate this deep work with me. I say this because sometimes we need the coordination of another professional to navigate through difficulties so that we don’t end up in the direction of overwhelming or retraumatisation.
Shortly after the pandemic, like every Friday, I opened my calendar book to plan my next two weeks. I thought, “I don’t even know what to write. I don’t know what’s going to bring or take away next week.” I closed the book with a nervous laugh. I had a belief that I had to work, plan, create, work hard, keep going, etc. in a certain way. At that moment, I heard this belief as belief and asked myself, “Who says?” This has become my mantra. Now when I find myself in moments of the question of what is really, what is currently true, I remember this mantra: “Who says?” Whose message is your belief? What meaning / narrative do you put on this belief? Is it true?
Which teachers / traditions have influenced you the most?
For Yoga Nidra it was my good friend Hilary Jackendoff and Richard Miller, PhD.
For Mindfulness / Buddhism and Buddhist Psychology I am inspired by Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach and Trudy Goodman.
Rick Hanson, Stephen Porges, Richard Schwartz, and Peter Levine, to name a few, are some of my greatest inspirations for trauma-related relief from mindful modalities such as internal family systems and somatic experience.
What’s your only favorite yoga teaching that you keep coming back to?
“So the mind, so the person.” I used to have a more rigorous view of this Yogic Sutra. It is the responsibility / fault of the person how the mind is. My mind was in a place of: You make your own bed, now you sleep in it.
This led to another rigid attitude: “You have the power to change your mind so that you can change who you are.” Think happy and you will be happy. Except that it’s not that easy for most.
Over time, I can finally see what this thread really means to me. It is an understanding that there are multiple ideas and stories from people. While I may not agree with you, I can do my best to understand where you are from. And when I don’t, I can accept that there are multiple ideas, meanings, and truths for people.
It piqued curiosity and interest for me. Instead of calling someone to think differently, I want to be drawn in so that I can learn and connect with that person. Healing can only begin when you feel seen and heard.