The first time I experienced Yoga Nidra, I was hooked. It was the most relaxing, deep, and profound meditation that I had ever experienced. After the initially daze of coming out of such a calm state, I had such a sense of grounding and rejuvenation that lasted well into the next day. Now onto the specifics … Yoga Nidra is an ancient meditation technique that gets you into a deep conscious state of rest. Technically, the meditation is supposed to put you into a theta brain wave where you are in between a waking and sleeping state. This state is supposed to allow you to access your subconscious level where you can achieve both physical and emotional healing. In practice, Yoga Nidra is quite simple: You lay on your mat with blankets and bolsters to become as comfortable as possible. The yoga practitioner will then guide you to a very relaxed space – your eyes are closed and you are breathing calmly. Once the room has settled in, the practitioner leads you on a journey with your awareness. You’ll become aware of their voice, your body, the space, all while allowing yourself to completely relax into your mat. You use the practitioner’s voice to stay tethered to the experience while the rest of your body and mind drift off. Yes, you may fall asleep. That actually happens pretty often for people just starting out. Eventually, you’ll find a very deep state where you can hear the voice but your consciousness feels like it is somewhere else – almost like you’re dreaming. This is a must-try experience that has really profound benefits! It can help your sleep patterns, help with anxiety and depression, help to relax tension in the body, and it’s also incredibly soothing. If you’re interested, you can find a class at Just Be Yoga in Walnut Creek on Thursday Nights. A google search for Yoga Nidra in the East Bay Area will also point you to other studios that offer this class. I highly recommend giving this a try as it is the most relaxed state that I have felt out of a variety of meditation techniques and practices. If you want a little more information on what you’re getting into, here is a fairly typical flow to a Yoga Nidra class/meditation from Lindsay Kellner of MindBodyGreen:
- Set your intention.
- Feel your connect to yourself and others.
- Physical body: Sense and perceive your physical body and arrive in the present moment by doing a body scan.
- Energetic body: Count breaths, elongate breaths, and experience the sensation that arises from the breath work. This raises awareness of where energy is stuck and where it’s flowing.
- Emotional body: Invite the polarity of opposite feelings and sensations into your practice, like warm and cool, left and right, safety and fear. Often we experience emotions on this polarity: For example, someone living in fear desires safety. Yoga nidra teaches us that we don’t need the positive end of the polarity to be comfortable, safe, fearless, joyous, and vulnerable.
- Body of intellect: Notice thoughts, beliefs, and images that arise in the guided exploration of opposites. They offer insight into your long-held belief systems and answer why we are the way we are.
- Body of joy: Recalling memories that are pure joy and at ease helps reset a mental baseline and can alleviate anxiety levels while offering an ever-present sense of calm.
- Body of ego-I: Through guided mantra and meditation, become aware of the witness inside us all and check (and recheck, and recheck) your ego.
- Natural state: Recognize the power of the mind to facilitate emotions from an inner and outer state. This helps bring awareness of our inner witness, the consciousness inside each one of us that’s remained the same since we can remember. In this state, we recall the intention and desire set at the beginning of practice and integrate them with our re-patterned consciousness before coming out of the meditation
Happy Yogic Dreaming!