What Is Yoga Nidra?
It is said that a 35 minute practice can be equivalent to a 3-4 hour nap. How glorious does this sound? This is how I was first introduced, but the practice is so much more than this. Allow me to share more.
I first discovered the practice of Yoga Nidra about five years ago, and immediately fell in love with the journey. After years of and on and off practice myself, I chose to dig deeper and more intentionally curate my personal practice. Shortly thereafter, I found myself studying how to offer this practice to others. The journeys looked different each and every time, but over time, I learned to hone my intent-setting practices, and fine my safe haven anywhere out and about in the world when I needed a little “come back to me” space.
I’m often asked what exactly is the practice of Yoga Nidra. If you’ve not heard of it, or experienced this style of meditation before, read on for some of my most commonly asked questions.
What if I’m a beginner meditator?
Beautiful. Welcome to the practice of stillness. The Yoga Nidra practice is absolutely intended for people of all levels. Whether you’ve never meditated before, or you’re a veteran to your practice, this meditation is intended to guide you through your custom journey.
Is it guided or do I sit the entire time with my thoughts?
Totally a common question. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation. You are experiencing thought, like the alive being that you are, but my role is to guide you in such a way that you learn to witness these thoughts and allow them to pass with detached awareness. I will walk you through a journey, beginning with some very light movement, followed by a mindful scan of the body and the lying down guided meditation. The goal is for you to be as comfortable as possible — to bring your body to a deep state of rest and relaxation, while keeping your mind awake and aware of my cues. Thoughts will come and go. My cues will help to continuously remind you to detach from these thoughts and simply be aware of their passing by.
Why do we start with gentle movement?
For many of us, we already lack movement in our everyday. We skipped out on a practice, or sat at a desk or in a car most of the day. Going straight from vertical to stillness in horizontal can create discomfort in the back body. The purpose of the gentle movement is to massage the spine, send a little love to the low back, essentially help you melt into the mat before I invite you to lie in stillness for an extended period of time.
I’ve heard it’s like a yogi’s nap. Is this true?
It can indeed feel like that level of rest. Some nickname this practice yogic sleep and say that a 35-40min practice can even feel equivalent to a 3-4 hours nap — the juicy attraction I had to the practice at first. However, each practice is different. What I will share is that the intention is to bring you to such a deep state of stillness that your body is fully at rest, while your mind is awake and aware. In the deepest state of Nidra, you are accessing the Theta brain waves — between awake and dream state — so you are indeed aware of my cues, even if your body appears asleep.
What if I actually fall asleep?
Then my friend, your body needed a sweet, sweet nap. There is no right or wrong way to practice Yoga Nidra. There is only the need to be present in the room. This is a magical practice. And likely, if you do doze off, your subconscious will still be aware of my words and you will still rise at the end of class on cue.
And if I snore in a public class? Or what if I’m disturbed by other students snoring?
It’s possible. This is a highly debated one among teachers. Personally, I will not startle a student out of this sleep, no matter how gently their snores. When we’re journeying to such a deep state of the subconscious, I’m not sure where you are, or what you are experiencing. Therefore, it’s most healing to allow your body to naturally shift in and out as it needs. I may lightly walk around the room, and often that tip-toe alone ceases any snoring.
Will my body temperature drop?
Yes, your core temperature will drop, much like it does in your sleep. This is why at the beginning of practice, we take extra time to set ourselves up with the ultimate prop situation and get real cosy, with blankets, and if available, bolsters. Wearing warm socks, even in the warmer months is sometimes a nice added touch.
Are all Yoga Nidra meditations the same?
Yes and no. The words and “scripts” are guided by your unique teacher’s style or sense of poetry — much like any flow class. However, all Nidra classes will guide you through a series of eight stages. The ultimate purpose of this practice is to develop an intention-based practice using something called a Sankalpa.
What is a Sankalpa?
A Sankalpa is your personal intention for your practice. It is stated silently to yourself in the present tense as though this is already something that you live, breathe, embody in your current reality. We do this at the beginning of a practice. You may use this Sankalpa or intention for one single Nidra practice, or you may use it over and over for months of consistent practice. In Yoga Nidra, you can use intentions to support you in repatterining and retraining the brain.
how often should i practice?
If you know me at all, “should” is a word I attempt to eliminate from my vocabulary. However, there really is no set frequency for a Yoga Nidra practice. Like anything, it is called a practice for a reason. The first few times, it might be easy to slip into deep sleep. The more frequently you practice, the more you will learn to access your subconscious, keeping your body fully at rest, with your mind completely alert and aware of all of the words the teacher is saying. I remember in my training with other Yoga Nidra teachers even, we all practiced countless times over the multiple weekends and the journeys into our respective subconscious minds (upon sharing post session) was often different for all of us, each time. There is no right or wrong way, however, simply allowing the space to be, and to practice witnessing what unfolds.
To experience this practice with me, head this way. I offer sessions in person and virtually.