Tell the truth … you’ve gone to yoga just for the Savasana. It’s cool though, cuz I think everyone has at one point or another. I certainly have.
How would you like an hour-long Savasana? Now we’re talking, am I right?
If you’re wondering why there isn’t an entire yoga class dedicated to Savasana, wonder no more because there is. It’s called Yoga Nidra and it’s AHHHHHH-mazing!
Yoga Nidra is yogic sleep — I use the term “sleep” loosely because you’re not really asleep, just lingering in a deep restful meditative state where your mind is detached from your body and every part of you can just be and rest. Essentially, you’re hovering in the space that lies between being awake and asleep.
Now, that might sound a bit strange and I’ll admit I was also skeptical. My skepticism extended right up until my first Yoga Nidra practice, which was led by Heidi Kenty of Sage Yoga in Damascus, Md.
According to Heidi and her teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra, Yoga Nidra is “a form of active meditation that holistically addresses our physiological, neurological and subconscious needs” and is “among the deepest possible states of relaxation one can attain while still maintaining a meditative consciousness.”
Additionally, due to its relaxing and restorative qualities, as you might have guessed, Heidi says that “the practice of Yoga Nidra is well-known for reducing tension and anxiety.”
How Yoga Nidra Works
Heidi uses a variety of techniques, like guided imagery and body scanning, to get her students all loosey-goosey and deep into a relaxed state. Then, throughout the practice, she’s telling a story and guiding this unique meditation. I’ve found that Heidi’s voice sort of drifts in and out of my consciousness, but I couldn’t tell you what the story was about. Her voice really just served as an anchor of sorts that kept me awake … but only just barely.
People do fall asleep while practicing Yoga Nidra. As Heidi says, “the body takes what the body needs.”
What you get is an intensely relaxing experience for body and mind. The best way I can describe my experiences is that it’s like being completely relaxed and asleep, but you’re awake to enjoy what that feels like. Prepare to reach a new level of blissed-out when you feel how awesome it is to turn off your brain, let your body go, and just rest.
Another fascinating form of Yoga Nidra is iRest (stands for Integrated Restoration) Yoga Nidra. Julie Alter, an iRest Yoga Nidra teacher at Thrive Yoga in Rockville, Md., says that the iRest practice differs from the more traditional Yoga Nidra in that “we explore our own unique feelings, thoughts, images rather than being told what to experience. During the process, you learn to recognize what is trying to emerge.”
According to Julie, during an iRest practice, the students are guided through various experiences, and each student’s task is to rest while observing — without reaction or judgment — all that naturally comes up.
When iRest is practiced regularly, students learn to remain relaxed even as thoughts, feelings, beliefs, mental pictures, memories and other sensations begin to bubble up. In doing so, students figure out how to stay connected to the part of themselves that is always peaceful and at ease.
This sounds amazeballs, right? I assure you, it is. And who doesn’t need more practice being at ease in this sea of chaos we call life? In that area, I could use all the help I can get!
But Wait, There’s More!
It’s thought that the effects of one hour of Yoga Nidra is equivalent to the rest you’d get from four hours of sleep. When was the last time you had four extra hours you could set aside for sleep? Like, never.
To participate, you don’t need to have any knowledge of or experience with yoga. The practice is not physically demanding, unless you consider lying comfortably on the floor demanding. In fact, the less you move during practice, the better your experience will be.
Check with your local yoga studios about Yoga Nidra offerings right away, if not sooner. You can also find recorded guided Yoga Nidra practices online.
Have you ever practiced Yoga Nidra? Tell me about your experience! —Alison