Coworker and yoga teacher, Jen, had me at Savasana. With a pillow and blanket in tow, I headed to the studio to attend my first Yoga Nidra class. Not really sure what to expect, I knew that at the very least I wasn’t about to turn down an extra hour of sleep early on a Friday morning.
what is yoga nidra?
Yoga Nidra means "sleep with a trace of awareness." Through the practice, deeply rooted issues, fears and stresses have the opportunity to be resolved. Regular practice aims to decrease anxiety, depression and stress levels (couldn’t we all benefit from that?). Yoga Nidra is supposed to be a restorative practice where an hour on your mat is the equivalent to three hours of conventional sleep. Sleep patterns can be restored and students report feeling more balanced mentally and physically.
what to expect
Don’t expect to break a sweat - in fact, you might even doze off. The practice is certainly more meditative than it is physically exhausting. After we laid down our mats, Jen had us get comfortable in Savasana – really comfortable. We were going to hold this posture for the remainder of the hour so I wiggled and squirmed until I found my sweet spot. Jen even encouraged us to use pillows and blankets since the body tends to cool during meditative practice.
sleep is not failure
The goal of Yoga Nidra is to allow the body to rest while the mind remains awake. Jen assures us that sleep is not failure. As a pretty active, hyper and busy person, getting horizontal usually only means one thing for me - time to catch some Z’s. As I melted into my mat, it took a bit of time to put my inner voice to rest. “Am I awake or asleep right now, am I dreaming or present?” Eventually Jen’s calming voice washed away my ego and I found the fine line between aware and asleep.
the mind is always listening
At the end of the class the awareness is shifted to external sensations and sounds. Even those snoring during class hear the instruction to gently roll onto their side. Interestingly enough, Jen says she’s never had to wake someone from a nap because the mind is always listening.
As with everything, it takes time and practice to be able to reap all the benefits of Yoga Nidra. With my busy life going full speed ahead, mediation is harder for me to achieve than holding a handstand. Do you find you get more out of a yoga class that focuses on meditation or are you after getting a good sweat?
- live in Vancouver? Give Yoga Nidra a try
- a well cushioned mat is key for spending time on your back
- find meditation in the modern world