We Coloradans love our power yoga, our hot yoga, our goat yoga, but how about Yoga Nidra? Never heard of it? You will. Colorado is becoming something of an epicenter for this healing practice and that means more and more teachers and studios; especially around Denver and Boulder, are beginning to offer it regularly.
Yoga Nidra; or Yogic sleep, is basically the art of Savasana – you know, that pose all your teachers tell you is the most important, only to stick it in for a few minutes at the very end of practice. During Yoga Nidra you typically lay in a supported Savasana for the entire practice, ranging anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Doesn’t that sound nice? It is! You are guided through a series of different techniques that lead to deeper and deeper relaxation. The mind and body become so relaxed as to mimic the physiology of sleep – however the practitioner remains alert and aware. Thus the name; yoga – or one pointed awareness, and nidra – meaning sleep. Sleep with awareness.
Yoga Nidra can follow different formats but generally, all teachers will guide you through Sankalpa – or intention, followed by techniques to find relaxation in the body, the breath, the mind, and the subconscious. These techniques include body scan, breath counting, experience of sensations, experience of imagery and more. Ultimately the process leads you to a shift from thinking and doing into simply being and resting in a peaceful state of awareness. Pretty blissful.
During a typical night of sleep we may only reach truly deep, REM sleep for about twenty minutes every hour. So during a three-hour cycle we may only attain one hour of the most rejuvenating sleep state, which we need to heal and restore on all levels: physical, emotional, and mental. With practice, during Yoga Nidra the brainwaves may slow to delta waves, effectively attaining REM sleep, even as awareness is maintained. This is why people say that one hour of yoga nidra can equal 3 hours of sleep. And who doesn’t need 3 more hours of sleep?
This practice is great because it’s appropriate for all skill levels and ages and attainable for all bodies. Everyone can do it and everyone can benefit from it! Here is the best thing about Yoga Nidra; you can’t do it wrong. So check out your local studios schedules and give it a try.
For weekly classes try: Denver: Samadhi, Kindness Lafayette: Soul Tree Boulder: Yoga Loft
As you can imagine there are a myriad of benefits that come along with the regular practice of Yoga Nidra – watch for my next post where I’ll go into detail about what some of those benefits are. Namaste!
Written by: Marin McCallen www.marinmyoga.com