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i n t r o d u c t i o n

hello beloved,

this series was written in part for a project for the Holy Yoga masters’ training, and in part to encourage and uplift you in whatever season you currently find yourself.

when I was praying about what it would look like to write a devotional series, I was very torn with my decision. my doubts stemmed from my own struggles in my faith walk, and feeling as though I am far from equipped to lead or guide anyone spiritually.

but then, our Divine Creator, in all of His goodness and loving kindness reminds me that His love makes me perfect in my weakness and through Him I can be a broken, yet beautiful vessel which refracts His light.

the word for this series of devotionals is: nihra, or noohra, which is used for the light of God, this is the light that Jesus declared himself to be when He spoke the word in Old Galilean form of Aramaic.

my prayer is that this series will bring the light of God, which extinguishes and expels all darkness, and reveals all truth and wisdom. that through these teachings, you will enter into more of a fullness of security and strength found by your heart, soul and mind being in alignment with the Spirit.

namaste and happy diving in the Creator’s love and truth for you.


maria atkinson

day one - l i g h t

have you ever pondered the essence of light.?

and not only have you pondered, but have begun to comprehend the sheer power and force light beholds?

in the book of Daniel, you'll find that Daniel is in a position many of us often find ourselves. Stuck in a situation needing much guidance and direction, but knowing you can’t move forward until the answer is revealed. Daniel is in need of deep and true revelation from God. he is placed into a position where clarity and understanding must come into alignment in order for God to transmit to him the knowledge he is desiring.

before we can request a visitation from the Light, we must understand its power and significance.

the first movement of creation was the conception and birth of light. light exploded into what would become the universe, and it was the grand overture of the entrance of the presence and existence of life.

the Light is the essence of God. it is the energy that penetrates all of creation and squelches the darkness.

in order to access this Light, we must first quiet ourselves and remove all distractions, then we can clearly make our requests known to God for insight, wisdom, revelation and knowledge.

when Daniel made his request to the Light, he was asking for an answer in a dream, a dream unclouded by symbolism and bizarre notions, but true and clear revelation that would undoubtedly be determined as an encounter that yolked his spirit with the mind of God.

while we are awake and conscious, our interactions with God are inhibited by our physical body and mind, which creates a blockade between your spirit and God.

for most of us, the only time our mind and body are fully silent is during our cycles of sleep, when our spirit is free to interact with God and receive messages of the Light.

when we enter into a place of meditation, we allow our spirit to begin to commune with God, and receive visitations of the Light.

as we quiet our hearts and minds, and allow ourselves the space to breathe and listen.. the space to let the Light come and infiltrate the darkest places of our heart that we wish to keep hidden, and to open our eyes to His knowledge and truth.

it’s in that space that we can go beyond ourselves, and we can embrace the divine and be filled with the Light that pierces darkness and gives life to all creation.

today’s reading: daniel 2:20-23 - the voice

“Praise the name of God forever and ever, for all wisdom and power belong to Him. He sets in motion the times and the ages; He deposes kings and installs others; He gives wisdom to the wise and grants knowledge to those with understanding. He reveals deep truths and hidden secrets. He knows what lies veiled in the darkness; pure light radiates from within Him. I recognize who you are, and I praise you, God of my ancestors, for you have given me wisdom and strength.”

today’s reflection:

• In what ways am I seeking answers and revelations?

• What do I need guidance and direction for?

• How can I go deeper in allowing my spirit to communicate with God?

today’s challenge:

write down a question for God, and place it underneath your pillow before you go to sleep, when you awake, journal and meditate over any dreams or revelations your received while asleep.

today’s practice: half lotus

sit in a cross legged seated position. bring your left foot over toward your right hip. sit up nice and tall, lengthening in your spine, drawing your shoulders behind your ears, close your eyes.

begin to draw your awareness on to your breath, and slowly draw in your inhales through your nose fully inflating your diaphragm with breath, and then slowly exhale, releasing the oxygen out of your mouth.

slowly enter into a meditative state where your focus is only on what your spirit is communicating and the rhythms of your breath.

day two - b r e a t h

oxygen, the air that we breathe is the very essence of life. all living beings cannot survive without oxygen. when breath is restricted, most living creatures will die within a matter of minutes.

how fitting is that humanity came into existence from God’s very breath, and without this breath, we would cease to exist.

“when the human body meets divine spirit, soul is born, divine breath and sculpted earth come together to make up the living soul. “ - excerpt from The Voice

society keeps our understanding of oxygen and the need for breath on very scientific and rational terms, yet the Divine Creator took this element embedded into the atmosphere and took His very own breath to give man life - not only does this breath fill our most basic physical need, but it brings life and rejuvenation to the deepest parts of our souls.

when we take short and shallow breaths, we can stimulate anxiety and fear. however, when long, slow breaths are taken one is able to redirect their concentration and awareness to centeredness, which in turn allows us to calm ourselves and refocus on truth.

how often do we disconnect from the breath of life? staying in the shallow rather than going into the deep. when we allow the Breath of Life to fully fill our lungs we enter into the evolution of becoming fully the being that God intended - a fully living soul.

today’s reading: genesis 2:7 - the voice

“One day the Eternal God scooped dirt out of the ground, sculpted it into the shape we call human, breathed the breath that gives life into the nostrils of the human, and the human became a living soul.”

today’s reflection:

• When I am feeling anxious, nervous or worried, do I use my breath to calm myself and bring back to a place of centered awareness of self and being?

• Am I operating in the fullest express of a living soul? Or am I staying in the shallow, refraining myself to enter into the deepest depths the Breath of Life can take me?

• How can I draw more awareness to the Breath of Life?

today’s challenge: make a conscious effort to draw your attention to your breath in your daily routine. notice when you are breathing shallowly, and when you are taking intentional deep and powerful breaths. not ice the difference and journal about it.

today’s practice: reclined butterfly

lying on your back, draw the soles of your feet to touch, which will open up your hips as you push your knees toward the earth.

place your right hand on your stomach, and your left hand on your heart. begin to take slow, deep inhales through the nose and more forcefully push the air out of your mouth.

as you inhale allow your stomach to fill entirely with breath until every part of you is filled, then as you exhale allow yourself to be completely emptied of the breath.

repeat for ten full breaths.

notice how your body begins to respond to this practice and how your heart and mind feel afterward.

Nihra Flow 1 - Music: Spotify - Maria Atkinson playlist - Nihra 1

  1. Begin in cross legged seated position

  2. Come to half lotus by bringing your left foot toward your right hip and keep your right leg underneath and parallel to mat

  3. Close eyes and breathe for 5 breath cycles

  4. Repeat other side

  5. Come back to simple seated and twist your spine by placing left hand to right knee and right arm back behind you  - do for both sides

  6. Open your chest and release down for a forward seated stretch

  7. Come up and get to all fours for tabletop

  8. Cat/cow for 10 breaths

  9. Sit back to child’s pose

  10. Turn toes under - come up to downdog

  11. Walk your dog - pedal out feet

  12. Step up to forward fold

  13. Rise up for mountain

  14. Turn palms up, close eyes and breathe for 3 breaths

  15. Inhale take arms up

  16. Swan dive forward fold

  17. Inhale come halfway up hands to shins

  18. Exhale lower down

  19. Get to plank

  20. Chaturanga

  21. Upward facing dog

  22. Get back to down dog

  23. Right leg lifts - bring it in between hands, lay back leg on mat

  24. Lift arms up for crescent moon

  25. Take arms back behind you interlace hands and take a slight back bend

  26. Bring arms down - get back to downdog

  27. Step up to forward fold

  28. Rise for mountain

  29. Repeat full flow each side two times

  30. When finished rest in child’s pose for three breaths

  31. Thread the needle with each arm both sides

  32. Come up on knees take hands to lower back - take slight back bend for modified camel

  33. Sit down extend legs out in front for staff pose

  34. Lower down for seated forward fold

  35. Lay on back bring knees to chest

  36. Revolve on each side

  37. Come back center, reach for feet open up for happy baby

  38. Release for savasana

day three - f o u n d a t i o n

Merriam-Webster defines foundation as, “a basis upon which something stands or is supported.” or “a body or ground upon which something is build up or overlaid.” in essence, in the most rudimentary terms, anything built to last must first be secure on a solid foundation.

according to the 7 cycles of the 7 chakras, the first chakra, or energy center is known as the “root chakra”. this center is our introduction to life. It is where we first experience the world of form. We discover chaos and stability; it is where we are introduced to the dichotomy of our existence. It is the opening of the root chakra, which is located at the base of the spine.

when our root chakra is out of balance, we can feel lost ,confused, easily overtaken by anxiety or even turn to self-destructive behaviors. when we direct this to our spirituality with a life in Christ, where our roots are not secure in Him, we are more readily overwhelmed by temptation, fear and doubt, and question our ability to hear God’s voice and feel His presence actively working in our lives.

our Creator is the source of our security. He is the One in which we find our truest sense of self and security. when our foundation is firmly set in Him, the rest of our entire being has permission to fall into line.

when we are balanced and our root chakra is open and healthy, we return back to a space of confidence, strong and secure we stand in the light.

today’s reading: colossians 2:6-7 - the voice

“Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.”

isaiah 33:6 -

“He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”

today’s reflection:

• Take a quick evaluation. How are you currently feeling in your life? Secure? Solid? Unsure? Anxious? Unstable?

• If unsure, insecure, unstable, etc. continue to examine what might be the root of these emotions. What is causing the insecurity and instability? Are you feeling as though you're not grounded and disconnected from the Divine?

• If you’re feeling more positively and secure again, where are you drawing this energy source from?

• What exercises can you put into practice as daily disciplines to help you recenter and find your foundation and base in the Lord? What can you actively pursue to seek balance and rootedness?

today’s challenge: take 15-30 minutes out of your day to sit and reflect and quiet your heart and mind. allow yourself the space to truly begin to enter into a state of meditation where you can being to let the Holy Spirit wash over you and restore your sense of foundation and peace.

today’s practice: mountain pose

coming to the top of your mat, plant your feet firmly on the ground below you. lifting up your toes, allow each toe to connect to the earth until you have a firm stance. keep your knees soft as your turn the tailbone down, lengthen your spine, relax your shoulders and turn your palms upward by your side.

close your eyes and begin to take deep inhales and exhales as we channel the root chakra and allow the Divine to balance that energy center and begin to bring alignment and secure our foundation in Him.

stand in the pose for ten full breaths, and release by coming into a forward fold.

day four - b a l a n c e

life is one giant balancing act, is it not? everyday we are forced to juggle family life, personal life and professional life, while still finding time to make space to breathe, exercise and cultivate our spirituality.

often times it seems that our spiritual lives are the first to fall to the wayside, resulting in the rest of our being becoming imbalanced.

when we are out of balance, we question our inner wisdom and ability to discern and hear the voice of the Divine.

when we are operating out of a place of imbalance, we can feel as though we are sleepwalking. moving throughout life on autopilot - even feeling numb to emotions and reactions - as though we are asleep.

our ability to enter into intimacy with not only the Creator, but also others is barred and can drag us down into a state of depression and isolation. operating in a hazy fog, we being to lose sight of clarity and direction.

how can we find our balance and reclaim our sense of strength and direction?

in the book of romans, Paul talks about placing our life before God. laying it all down and allow him to lead and guide. that in giving Him our all He will bring us into balance and align our lives with Him, bringing all else into order.

living a life of balance is as simple as asking the Holy Spirit to be your director and guide. to help you take captive the distractions and obstacles that come to throw you off course. seeking balance is making space for mediation and practice - to draw nearer to our Creator and allow His love and grace to shape us more into His likeness.

today’s reading: romans 12:1-2 - the message

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you; Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life - and place is before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you

down to levels of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

ephesians 5:11-16 - the message

‘“Don’t waste your time on useless work, more busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep. Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!

So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.”

today’s reflection:

• What is taking up space in your life currently that is excess or unnecessary? Causing imbalance?

• What actions can be taken to remove these distractions, unneeded commitments, or additions to draw closer to a state of balance and order?

today’s challenge: identify one thing causing imbalance or distraction in your life currently. whatever is currently occupying that space, replace it with a 20-30 minute practice of yoga and mediation. journal about any thoughts, emotions or revelations that were drawn up during that time.

today’s practice: plank/yoga push-up pose:

starting with vinyasa, find your way into a plank pose. with wrists stacked beneath the shoulders, find your length from your toes to the top of your head. keep your core strong and you practice your breath work and balance in this pose. after three deep breaths slowly begin to lower yourself onto your mat but staying elevated and keeping elbows pinned to the ribs. using the same force that brought you down, keep your back straight and push back up into plank. practice this 3-5 times, coming into downward facing dog or child’s pose to rest.

day five - h e a r t

our hearts. our body’s most vital organ as it is responsible for pumping blood and oxygen into the rest of our physical makeup allowing for us to live and breath and move freely.

it is not by accident that the bible talks about actively protecting your heart, while also cultivating is ability to love and show compassion and express joy.

the heart is the very center of our being. it allows us to feel emotion that our brain translates into works and actions. and not only is it’s physical duty one that keeps us alive, but our emotional heart controls the rest of our functions.

when our heart is blocked and out of balance, we may have a tendency to feel apathetic, possessive or co-dependent. keeping a healthy heart allows us to enter into the fullness of joy, compassion and love - loving ourselves and others freely.

guarding your heart means fighting to keep it healthy - to keep it open so love can flow and envelop us in an understanding of our significance, value and purpose.

an open heart allows us to be able to experience and understand the Creator’s love for His creation, and turn we start to have the ability to love ourselves and others with the same passionate and unconditional love.

when you know you are loved, you know your worth and you walk confidently in your passions, dreams, calling and destiny.

today’s reading: proverbs 4:23 - the message

“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.”

proverbs 15:13-15 - english standard version

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge., but the mouths of fools feed on folly. All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.”

today’s reflection:

• What’s the current state of your heart? Happy? Content? Burdened? Heartbroken?

• In what ways can you actively seek a healthy, open heart?

• When you think of God’s love for you and experiencing that love, what thoughts or emotions come to mind?

today’s challenge: search for any areas where you question your worth, you ability to give and receive love, or God’s love for you. which one makes you feel anxious or barred? begin to counteract negativity and lies with the truth of who you were created to be and the truth found in the Word of God’s immeasurable love for you and His design for you to live freely with a health and open heart.

today’s practice: crescent moon + cactus arms

starting from downward dog, extend your right leg overhead. bend your knee and draw the knee into the chest, step your foot in between your hands and lay your left leg behind you onto the mat. raise your arms up lifting your chest up, squaring your hips forward with your knee stacked directly over your ankle. open your arms out bending your arms to come into a cactus-like form. lean back slightly opening up your heart. release your hands down and come back into downward facing dog and repeat for the other side.

Nihra Flow 2 - Playlist - Spotify: Maria Atkinson Nihra 2

  1. Begin in reclined butterfly - sit for 10 breath cycles

  2. Raise left foot and grab hold of left big toe - draw foot toward head

  3. Repeat with right side

  4. Close eyes and breathe for 5 breath cycles

  5. Repeat other side

  6. Hug knees into chest and begin to rock backward and forward until you rock on to your feet

  7. Stand to mountain

  8. Forward fold and take opposite hand to opposite elbow and rock side to side for ragdoll

  9. Release right hand down extend left arm up

  10. Release left hand down extend right arm up

  11. Slowly rise to stand

  12. Turn palms up, close eyes and breathe for 3 breaths

  13. Inhale take arms up

  14. Swan dive forward fold

  15. Inhale come halfway up hands to shins

  16. Exhale lower down

  17. Get to plank

  18. Chaturanga

  19. Upward facing dog

  20. Get back to down dog

  21. Right leg lifts - bring it in between hands, come up on ball of left foot

  22. Lift arms up for crescent lunge

  23. Bring hands to heart center, twist and place left elbow on outside of right knee

  24. Come back to center

  25. Bring hands down, step back to downdog

  26. Walk feet to hands

  27. Bend knees, send tailbone back, raise arms up for chair pose - hold for 5 full breaths

  28. Repeat full flow each side two times

  29. When finished rest in child’s pose for three breaths

  30. Take hands to left side

  31. Take hands to right side

  32. Come up to table top

  33. Cat/cow for 5 breaths

  34. Sit back take legs in front - bring to butterfly, lower down

  35. Extend right leg out and reach down

  36. Extend left leg out and reach down

  37. Lay on back bring knees to chest

  38. Revolve on each side

  39. Come back center, reach for feet open up for happy baby

  40. Release for savasana

day six - w a r r i o r

this life is full of battles. battle to stay strong in our faith, sound in our mind, committed to our relationships and maintain our health and wellness. spiritually, here some of our greatest battles lie. threats to our faith are always present, and we are constantly fighting against powers that wish to draw us away from our Life Source.

as followers of Christ, we are already equipped to be warrior as we fight against principalities to push back darkness and further expose the light.

throughout every struggle, we can find peace knowing that we are already victorious - the outcome has already been determined and we are on the winning side.

in many ways we are called to be warriors.

warriors of the faith, warriors of light and warriors of justice.

not only are we to fight against powers of darkness, but in the physical realm as well. we as warriors have the ability to stand up for justice, to speak our for the rights of the afflicted, and to also be warriors of love.

as we carry the furious love of the Divine in our hearts, it overflows on to those who we encounter. it pushes out fear and darkness and allows for the Light to shine more brilliantly.

it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the trials we face and the wars that rage on, yet there is no fear or worry that God doesn’t see or understand. he sees the war and has an endless supply of strength for those who turn to him.

on our mats, we can channel our warrior through dynamic poses and flows and victorious breath as we are firmly rooted in our Creator and His ability to give strength to our weakness.

we may fall, but we will never hit bottom. through life’s battles God shows us that with Him we cannot be defeated. we are His warriors and He is Our Protector. as we trust in Him, we can stand strong as warriors even when we seem to be losing ground.

today’s reading: psalm 18:31-39 - english standard version

“For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock — except our God? the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation. and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. You gave me a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip. I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were all consumed. I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet. For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.”

today’s reflection:

• In what ways are you a warrior?

• How do you find your strength?

• In what ways can you challenge yourself to be more of a warrior?

today’s challenge: take space to journal about the idea of being a warrior. what does it mean to you? how can you apply this idea into action? find one active way you can pursue your warrior - write a blog, message a difficult person in your life in love, resolve conflict, or find a way to serve.

today’s practice: warrior II

starting from downward dog, extend your right leg overhead. bend your knee and draw the knee into the chest, step your foot in between your hands and lay your left leg behind you onto the mat. keep your right knee bent, and extend your left leg back behind you, blading your back foot parallel to the edge of your mat. find strength in your arms by extending them out at either side, squaring your hips to your right side. activate your core muscles and breath victoriously. turn the palms of your hands upward and sit deep. release your hands down and come back into downward facing dog and repeat for the other side.

day seven - s u r r e n d e r

at the end of just about every yoga class you’ll take you will end in what is known as savasana or corpse pose. this is a pose of complete surrender - a pose where you release and let go and allow yourself to submit to stillness. many yoga instructors will say that this is the simplest, yet most difficult pose of yoga. why? because it requires nothing of you.

in our modern culture and society the idea of submitting and surrendering is a foreign concept. it’s regarded as a positive thing to have a full schedule and a life of busyness. with electronic devices all around us, it’s nearly impossible to ever truly quiet our minds and hearts in a world full of constant distractions.

the idea of surrender is unorthodox in our culture of continuous on-the-go and nonstop action. to whom do we surrender, and how do we go about doing it?

in the bible, surrender is simple. surrender is a matter of coming before the Lord and resting. quieting yourself to be still to experience His love and hear His voice. coming to Him, laying down the weight that you carry and just be.

just be.

that is true surrender. letting go of your need for control, your enslavement to your to-do lists and agendas, and allowing yourself to bask in the quiet and unforced rhythms of grace.

may we take the time and space needed to allow ourselves to be enveloped in these waves of grace. that we still our hearts and minds to open our deep spaces to peace and tranquility.

may we find comfort in keeping company with our Divine Creator allowing Him to bring us into a space where we find total liberation in surrender. may we enter into abundant life living freely land lightly.

today’s reading: matthew 11:28-30 - the message

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill- fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

today’s reflection:

• How are you resisting surrender in your life?

• What are you filling empty spaces with and how can you remove those distractions to make more room for the Spirit?

• When you think of the term “unforced rhythms of grace,” what comes to mind? How does this apply to you? How does it impact you?

today’s challenge:

reflect on the idea of surrender. examine your life and find one area in need of surrender. where can you press into grace and trust and let go of your need for control or plans and schedules? find space and time to physically demonstrate this surrender with the following yoga pose.

today’s practice: savasana

find your way onto your back on your mat. extend your legs out in front of you, letting your arms fall to your sides and your shoulders relax and melt into your mat. close your eyes and begin to take deep, slow inhales and exhales. let all outside thoughts and distractions fade away and allow yourself to fully surrender and just be in this pose. maintain this space for as long as you desire.

Nihra Flow 3 - Playlist - Spotify: Maria Atkinson - Nihra 3

  1. Begin in simple seated

  2. Close eyes and breathe for 10 breaths

  3. Inhale take arms up - lay left elbow onto mat, take right arm overhead

  4. Switch for other side

  5. Repeat each side two times

  6. Come to table top

  7. Extend right leg back and out, flex foot, extend left arm out in front, reach back for right foot for half dancer

  8. Repeat otherside

  9. Sit back child’s pose

  10. Come back to table top

  11. Extend right leg out and left arm out, bend knee and elbow bring elbow to knee for 10 breaths

  12. Repeat otherside

  13. Sit back to child’s pose

  14. Downdog

  15. Step up to mountain - rise to stand

  16. Swan dive forward fold

  17. Inhale half way up

  18. Step back to plank

  19. Chaturanga

  20. Upward facing dog

  21. Downdog

  22. Lift right leg up, bend knee, bring foot in between hands, come up warrior 1

  23. Extend arms up, cactus arms out

  24. Pivot on back foot open up for warrior 2

  25. Reverse warrior

  26. Extended side angle

  27. Open A - lower down hands to mat

  28. Flying monkey - each side

  29. Come back up - windmill arms down

  30. Step back to downdog

  31. Walk feet to hands - come up for mountain

  32. Repeat both sides two times

  33. End resting in child’s pose

  34. Bring back to mat - knees to chest

  35. Supine twists both sides

  36. Happy baby

  37. Savasana