Why Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra, while a common practice in many parts of our world, is a less-known type of meditation when compared to, say transcendental meditation or mindfulness meditation in the U.S.  Some folks who know me asked why I practice and teach Yoga Nidra instead of the others.  Well, it started out kind of on a whim.  

Today on Facebook, I was reminded of a posting I'd done on a Tumblr blog some years ago, and I thought I'd share some excerpts from that posting:

"All these changes happening over the past few months have left me feeling more than a little fried. I left a successful yet deeply unsatisfying job, endured major surgery, and watched my whole sense of self turn upside down in a very short period of time. Even though things are beginning to settle down externally, internally I am still kind of fragile, like a baby bird just beginning to leave the nest. I’ve been sleeping poorly and having mild anxiety spells. Every morning at 4:45 am (on the DOT for goodness sakes!) I wake up, for no good reason. Then the birds start waking up with their mating calls and keep me up ‘til the break of dawn. If I were child-free, I’d probably be able to fall back to sleep around 6:30, but alas, E is up and literally running at that time (not that I am complaining), and the day rushes on. So I have been looking for some way– any way– to catch up on some rest.

After I recovered from my surgery, a dear friend gifted me with a five-class series at Yogala Echo Park, and I’ve been going to a variety of classes to see which teachers I like and which classes work with my schedule (or that I can make work for what I want). One Sunday evening I decided to try something new: Yoga Nidra meditation class. 

I had never heard of Yoga Nidra before, but as I read the class description a sentence jumped out at me:

20 minutes of yoga nidra is as rejuvenating as four hours of sleep

Needless to say, I got my ass over there.

It was a transformative experience.

I was so sleepy, yet aware of everything around me. All judgement and tension had evaporated from my being. The teacher then guided us to a visualization of a nurturing image. As I formulated an image in my mind’s eye, I felt hot tears streaming down my cheeks and a tremendous feeling of release. 

Somehow, I was able to transform from someone who takes care of everything and everyone, to one who is gently and securely swaddled in the arms of the ones I love, the arms of my friends, the arms of my city, the world, the universe. I never thought a feeling like this was possible in my lifetime, much less in a period of 45 minutes."

From that profound experience, I experienced not only the deep relaxation I was desperate for, but also discovered a feeling of deep connection with my true and tender Self and with all the (what I'd envisioned) Selves who held me in that safe space.  I was hooked.  Over time I had a wide variety of experiences with Yoga Nidra, and to be completely honest, not all of them were pleasant.  However, even in a meditation session that had me wanting to jump out of my skin, I found myself rested, renewed, and just a little lighter from the weight I carried on my shoulders.  And years later, through regular practice both in and out of the yoga studio, I realized that I wanted to help people to feel a little lighter too.