How to Nap Like a Shaman

Last week I took a different approach to my usual creative routine and started working with my naturals, (if you missed that post, here's how). I saw some pretty astonishing results, most notably, two rounds of article pitches followed by two immediate responses from editors - amazing isn't it, how we get what we give?!

My biggest challenge by far was avoiding the temptation to keep writing through my low energy points. 'But you've done so much great work today,' said the eager A-type ego in me, 'just keep going!' Thankfully, the sage student reminded me that life and art is a marathon, not a sprint, 'What you really need to do right now is take a Shaman's nap.' she said. I looked at last page of writing I had just completed. It was riddled with the red dotted lines of typos, which gave it the appearance of a PAC-Man game rather than a literary effort: I had to concede to the advice of the later and take a Shaman's nap.

The Shaman's nap is a fascinatingly similar take on the wisdom of recuperation, which parallel's the yogic nap known as Shavasana. As a graduate and lifelong student of anthropology, I've always found that the ideas and practices that repeat themselves across cultures, continents and centuries hold the most power, truth, and well, practicality. Interestingly enough, both Shavasana, and the shaman's nap are ideally done for 20 minutes for maximum benefit, and both involve deep relaxation, to be practiced at least once a day.    

There are however a few differences, which make it an interesting experiment in self-care for those of you deeply entrenched in your yoga practice. It's a refreshing change-up to the classic post-asana bliss-out. Without further ado, here's how to Nap like a Shaman:

Step 1: Identify your low energy point.

Step 2: Lie on your bed, or some sort of cushioned moveable, on your belly, with your feet hanging off the edge and your head turned to the left.

Step 3: Close your eyes and relax. You will go into active dreaming, and your body will naturally wake you up in 20 minutes - no alarm needed. 


Whether you call it a power nap, siesta or Shavasana, midday rest is longstanding tradition in most parts of the Mediterranean, Southern Europe and Hispanic America. Beyond the obvious need to escape the blazing rays of the midday sun in these areas of the world, sleep culture represents an alignment with the body's circadian rhythms. These traditions, as well as the Shaman's nap and the yogi's shavasana, are to me, a call to remember the natural laws that governs life and creation. In a society with the impossible pressure to be in a permanent upswing of creative output, I know I need to honor the times of necessary rest:

I respect the space AND the spark.