When I first heard the words “Yogic Sleep”, I was in. Yoga Nidra, a.k.a. Yogic Sleep, was being offered at one of my studios and after reading about it, I knew I had to give it a try.
As an enthusiast of weirdly wonderful practices (Gong baths, Sensual Qigong, Aerial Yoga), I figured that Yoga Nidra would be an interesting addition to my repertoire.
Before taking my first class, I of course did my research. I learned about the states of sleep your brain enters when falling asleep. Essentially, your brain shifts from alpha all the way to delta, the most restorative state in which your body regenerates and stress hormones are released. I read that the practice of Yoga Nidra allows you to access these brain-wave states while remaining conscious, and even enter into a deeper state that cannot be reached through conventional sleep.
Slightly skeptical, but highly interested, I entered my first Yoga Nidra Class. We started with light stretches then lied down on our backs in Shavasana (Corpse Pose). We practiced different breathing techniques to calm the mind and then were instructed to notice the sounds around us outside — the cars passing, the insects chirping, and the sheer hush of everyone’s breath. Focusing on the single sense of sound eliminated other thoughts from my brain and allowed me to be mindful and in the moment. We then entered the next phase of the practice: The instructor named parts of the body and asked us to relax and call attention to the sensations in each given area.
With my entire body finally relaxed, I felt a strong sensation of stillness. I remember not really being able to tell my brain to move my hand or lift my arm, although I was still awake. From what I’ve read, this was because my brain had entered a different and deeper state, one where my thoughts were much slower.
The class ended by slowly recalling attention to each part of the body and making slight movements. We deepened our breaths and reawakened our minds. Coming out of class, I felt refreshed and calm. Although Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation, I found it easier to calm the mind during this practice compared to traditional meditation. That being said, I do realize that Yoga Nidra is truly a practice. Yoga Nidra is essentially about training and manipulating your mind, which is not something anyone is going to be able to master on their first experience. Nevertheless, I definitely look forward to taking more Yoga Nidra classes, and would suggest it to those interested in changing up their standard meditation routine~