I recently returned from a 5-day Yoga Nidra workshop in Seattle with Rod Stryker. Yoga Nidra is a 3,000 year old tradition that invites total relaxation on the floor (quite comfortably, with a blanket, pillow and cloth to cover our eyes) and integrates the healing power of Enlightened Sleep, without falling asleep! This practice allows us to experience the essence and infinite possibilities of who we are. It takes practice, though, like anything else. For me, the first day and a half was the practice of not falling asleep! (Rod Stryker gave us a fantastic technique I can share with you!)
For those of you interested in the brainwave science I learned behind Yoga Nidra, here’s the super condensed version. In Yoga Nidra we are:
- guided from a state of being actively awake (Beta) to resting/relaxing yet aware (Alpha)
- lulled to the next stage, dreaming/imagination (Theta)
- some people move into deep, restful sleep (Delta) and stay here (yes, like ME)
- idea is to access the deep sleep (Delta) while sustaining some awareness (Alpha)
As a result of each day being filled with insightful lectures and 3 beautifully guided Yoga Nidra practices, I felt a true sense of deep relaxation and unification sprinkled throughout the 5 days. These incredible moments where I experienced my True Self were comfortably familiar. It was not until the last practice of the workshop was I able to stay awake (yippee!) and begin to understand the depth of this ancient practice of Enlightened Sleep.
Two Big Takeaways
- One of the participants at the workshop commented how Yoga Nidra seems to be the culmination of Yoga (asana, mediation, breath-work, chanting, etc). We use all of these practices to explore, navigate and unravel the deepest levels of our being; Yoga Nidra, then, is our way to experience and remember our True Nature again.
- Rod Stryker mentioned that we actually fall asleep quite a bit while we are awake; every time we allow our inner critic or external circumstances overshadow our True Nature, we are asleep. The consistency of losing sight of our soul is the likelihood you’ll fall asleep in Yoga Nidra. The more often you are aware and witnessing life, the more you’ll be awake and aware in Yoga Nidra. This was food for thought!
I’m taking on a 40-day Yoga Nidra practice. I’m 7 days in. For now, I’m enjoying the extra insightful and relaxation time. I’ve allowed a sense of grace to unfold regarding my Yoga Nidra practice. It’s far from perfect. But it happens every day. Even when I have to squeeze in my dedicated 30 minutes in before retiring for the evening, it gets done. And this way if I fall asleep, I’m already in bed!!