Yoga Nidra

If you’ve read my recent posts, you already know that I am a bit of a ‘Savasana disaster.’ I am totally aware that all true yogis (and yoginis) out there will cringe at such a phrase – but it’s true. When the rest of the class settles down so seamlessly into their final pose, lying on their backs in perfect stillness, I fidget. I discreetly try to put on my socks (can I help it if my feet get cold?). In the process, I accidentally knock over my water bottle. I think about reaching for my extra sweater, but I fear that will end in another disastrous consequence. I suddenly can’t remember where to position my hands. I then peek down and notice that my tank top has slipped significantly below my bra-line. My mind starts racing. How long has my top been like that…and who has seen what? And so it continues… until the teacher’s voice softly suggests that we begin to move our toes gently. At least I am on-track there–both sets of my toes, as well as my adjoining feet, have been wiggling non-stop for quite some time.

After this confession, I have no explanation why I recently signed up for a Yoga Nidra class. Yoga Nidra is a bit like an hour-long Savasana. (What was I thinking?!) It’s a relaxation technique where yoga students recline in complete stillness. They are then guided by their teacher’s voice to focus on their slow, relaxed breath, engage in guided visualization and completely let go.

The benefits of Yoga Nidra are said to:
• help consolidate our body’s energy and relax the nervous system
• calm the mind
• release tension
• promote deep rest and relaxation
• counteract stress
• help relieve depression and anxiety
• reduce insomnia
• increase awareness of the connection between body, mind, and spirit
(Source 1, Source 2, Source 3)

Everyone of all ages and ability levels can participate in Yoga Nidra. In order to enhance your practice, it is recommended to:
• wear loose, comfortable clothing
• use props (bolster under knees, neck pillow, eye mask, blanket) to increase comfort
• practice in a peaceful environment (calm, comfortable, clutter-free)
• allow a couple of hours between your last meal and your yoga class
• if there is no Yoga Nidra class offered in your area, you can practice at home with one of many free or purchased audio guides (example). Source 4

So with all of my ‘savasana-related baggage,’ as well as being a bit ambivalent about most things ‘meditation-related,’ I attended my first Yoga Nidra class last weekend.

What was my experience?

It was amazing. My body and mind relaxed instantly. Everything slowed down. For the first time that I can remember my mind quit preparing and rehearsing productivity lists. I experienced the immensely satisfying feeling of being in a deep sleep…while still awake. Instinctively, I turned my palms down and pressed into the floor to prevent the sensation of floating away (totally strange but true). I left feeling more refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed than I have for quite some time.

After class, a fellow yogini invited me out for tea and pie. A Sunday afternoon simply doesn’t get any better than that!!

26 Replies to “Yoga Nidra”

  1. Wahoo! You did it! Congratulations, Donna. The spell has been broken and you can now enjoy guided meditations. I’m no psychic but I confidently predict many more Yoga Nidra sessions in your future. Well done for taking the risk, Donna. The tea and pie sounds pretty great too.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Karen. That Yoga Nidra class was a one-off for my yoga studio. I am not sure if they are planning to follow it up with similar sessions. If they do, I will definitely be there again!

    1. I’m totally with you, Kate. ‘Coffee and cake’ or “tea and pie’ are great motivators for me for doing any kind of exercise. Perhaps defeating the purpose a bit….but you can’t have everything!

  2. What a great experience, Donna. I wonder why you were able to relax now. Maybe because the whole class was focused on stillness, instead of having lots of movements before savasana as usual. I find that after exercising, it is hard to relax the mind, or even fall asleep at night. When I did my month of yoga classes, one of the sessions was called Yin yoga, which sounds similar to your Nidra. I totally enjoyed it as well, but, unfortunately nobody ever asked me to have tea and pie with them. Or anything else! 🙂

    1. Hi, Liesbet – Excellent question! One difference between Savasana and Yoga Nidra for me is that Savasana comes at the end of a full yoga class … and my productivity-driven mind is already checking yoga off of the list and mentally reviewing the remaining tasks for the day. Yoga Nidra was the ‘main attraction activity’ so I was really able to get into it much more fully. If you are ever out this way, and make it to a yoga class near me, I will definitely invite you out for tea and pie! That’s a promise!

    1. Hi, Marian – Thanks for commenting. I am hoping that my Yoga Nidra experience wasn’t a ‘one-time only’ thing and that it works just as well next time. Fingers crossed!

  3. That sounds like a wonderful experience (even without the tea and pie… but what a bonus!), especially for someone who finds it hard to relax. I wonder if the practice would help me get back to sleep when I wake up in the middle of the night with my mind going a mile a minute (usually about absolutely nothing).

    I’m glad that you found something that works for you!

    1. Hi, Janis – I’m not sure if you’d want to pull out your yoga mat in the middle of the night…but Yoga Nidra is supposed to be great for insomnia and sleeplessness. I plan to give it a try one evening before bed (with a youtube recording) and see if it makes a difference.

    1. I would have guessed the total opposite (not about the tea and pie…but about you also being a fidget)! I love that about the blogging community. Layers of those with similar interest get revealed slowly, often in the most interesting ways! Thanks for commenting.

  4. I admire you trying different things. An old friend tried for years to get me to do Yoga and Pilates, but I’ve always been too lazy to commit. I’ve had the exact same gym routine now for over 20 years and I never deviate from it! Who knows, maybe someday I’ll throw caution to the wind and do Zumba. Sounds like you’re onto something good for yourself, Donna.

    1. Ohhhh, if you do ever decide to do Zumba…please post photos. I would LOVE to see them!
      Hope you are healing well and feeling much better this week.

  5. So interesting to read! I’m always amazed at the different types of yoga available. I’m more of a vinyasa yoga girl…I like the workout. My gym has yoga and one day, we had a new instructor who had us spend 30 minutes laying on our backs breathing. No thanks. I admire you and those who can get something out of this. I’m off to my cardio bootcamp class!

    1. Thanks, Terri – I also love all the different kinds of yoga out there and I have enjoyed exploring which ones work best for me. A couple of months ago I tried Kundalini yoga. I had heard that it was all about your breathing. “I’ve got this,” I though as I entered the studio for my first class. Long story short, I did not “have it” at all. Although I know that many others love it, I struck Kundalini off of the list for me!

  6. Second reference to the more relaxing type of yoga this week. Must mean it is something to look into! I think I would fall asleep and snore. Or be worried about that and not let my mind slow down. I’m usually running my to-do list thru Savasana. Or figuring out which muscles feel most loose/tight. I guess I too am Savasana disaster!

    1. Hi, Pat – It is great to find out all of the great company that I have out there. If you do try a restorative or Nidra yoga, please let me know what you think. Thanks for commenting!

  7. It sounds like a form of guided meditation. It sounds like a wonderful experience to finally be able to let go … and to be so successful at it that you have to *re-anchor* yourself with your palms to the floor!!

    I’m assuming you will try it again? I would want to repeat the experience as soon as I could!

    1. Thanks, Joanne – The session that I attended was a one-off for my yoga studio. I am hoping that they offered it as a trial and will now plan further sessions (it did draw a huge crowd and most participants seemed to enjoy their experience). I would definitely sign up again if offered!

    1. Hi, Stephanie – Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. If I can sit still and stop my mind from racing….I am sure that anyone can! If you have chance to try meditation, or Yoga Nidra, I definitely recommend giving it a try.

  8. Way to go, Donna! I recently have attended restorative yoga and “slow yoga”sessions taught by my usual yoga instructor and found that I was able to focus more on the breathing and reach a place of stillness that was far beyond what usually happens for me in yoga. However, I am a complete novice and am just learning the poses, so perhaps that distracts me from the more meditative state.

    Jude

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