When most Americans think of yoga, they picture people performing physical poses — or what’s traditionally called hatha yoga. But there are other forms of yoga as well, and for the month of December, I (Chelsea), will be introducing another form called yoga nidra at CF Yogi.
Now, you may be thinking, “Great! But… what on earth is yoga nidra?” Well, let me show you…
Close your eyes, relax, and drop in. Take a deep breath. Imagine, it is early morning and you’re waking from a dream, a dream that you can just as easily drop back into by just shutting your eyes again. You linger here, resting in this delightful state that exists between waking and sleeping. You sit here in this place where all problems seem far away.
And while you’re here, quite unexpectedly, an insight comes, a thought, a solution to a problem, that ‘aha’ moment. Suddenly it is all very clear, isn’t it? When you went to sleep the night before you were in the middle of a conundrum, but now in this state you know what to do. The action you need to take. And you’ve experienced this before haven’t you? Somehow, mysteriously, while absorbing this twilight dream state, insight spontaneously appears. Solutions arise, and problems dissolve.
This is the magnificent world of yoga nidra.
Yoga nidra quite literally translates to “yogic sleep.” It is a form of meditation where you are guided into a state of deep relaxation while remaining completely awake and aware. Yoga nidra can be practiced for countless reasons: to deeply relax the body and mind; process trauma; promote physical healing; balance emotions such as anxiety, fear, anger, grief, sadness; or simply as a method to relax and slow the mind.
Yoga nidra is made up of several different steps to activate and release tension in various parts of the body to achieve this state of relaxation. This includes the physical body, the senses, the mind, the breath, and the energetic body. Through these methods, we reach a place between wakefulness and sleep. This is where transformation occurs.
Each step moves the body through the four different types of brain waves arriving at the deep REM sleep theta waves. The difference is that normally REM sleep (or theta waves) can only be accessed while sleeping. In yoga nidra we are able to reach theta waves while remaining alert and aware. This is the place where conscious thoughts don’t exist; it is simply the subconscious, you at your core. This is where the healing, rewiring of narratives, patterns, and reconstruction of conscious thoughts can occur.
Exploring a yoga nidra practice
Now I know that you may be thinking, “This seems like a lot of work!” I’m happy to assure you that it’s not at all strenuous. If you can lie down and listen, you can do yoga nidra. Yoga nidra is done fully laying down in savasana (or in a whichever meditative posture you feel comfortable in). We start out class with a small amount of movement to get the jitters and energy out of the body, and then spend the rest of class in savasana while doing our yoga nidra meditation.
I will be guiding you through my own personally written yoga nidras specifically for each class, so all you have to do is show up. This may sound tiring, but one 45-minute session of yoga nidra is so restful that it equates to about 3 hours of regular sleep! So this can also be a great way to instill energy back into the body, or as a nice way to end the day before drifting off to sleep.
Just like any yoga practice, yoga nidra is a practice. It can be challenging to fully stay present and in tune with my words in your first yoga nidra class, and that is fine! Sitting with stillness is sometimes the hardest practice in yoga. Just keep coming back each week and practicing and you will be amazed with what this practice can do!
I hope to see you all on the mat this month using yoga nidra to escape some of the holiday stress, to relax, and perhaps find healing for some old wounds in the mind together in this safe space we have created for one another.
Yoga nidra will be every Monday in December at 7pm EST! I can’t wait to share this transformative practice with you all!