Yoga nidra, also known is ‘yogi sleep’, is an exciting concept blending yoga and meditation. My first exposure left me enlightened, more present than I’ve ever felt and wanting more! As I began my yoga nidra experience, I realized two things: Many people are confused about what it really is and it has the power to transform the life of anyone, regardless of experience with meditation and yoga.
Let Me Explain What Led Me to Yoga Nidra
After being diagnosed with PTSD from various military experiences and childhood traumas, I was blown away by how often medication was thrown at me. After some soul searching, I chose to replace medication with meditation, and to help others do the same. When I joined the team at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA), I was afforded the opportunity to take Yoga Nidra I with an amazing nationally recognized teacher named Kamini Desai, PhD.
To my surprise, yoga nidra is done from one position, Savasana, or lying down on your back. You’re able to use blankets, pillows, bolsters, eye pillows, chairs and other props to position yourself in a way that your body is completely neutral and relaxed. Just the act of lying there and being is relaxing in itself; when the instructor starts to lead you down into a certain brainwave state of sleep, where autonomic nervous system has a chance to rejuvenate, you really do fall into a deep yogi sleep. Human growth hormone, promoter of cell repair, is released in this Delta or deep sleep state. In our society today, stress, the inability to turn off the working brain, unhealthy eating habits, certain medications and other factors all play a role in reducing the amount of this deep sleep that allows us to tap into the expansive and unlimited beings that we all are.
Kamini Desai did a great job of explaining the theory of this expansiveness that can be challenging for the human mind or physical body to understand. Kamini invitation was:
“Visualize your expansiveness is a pot. It doesn’t matter whether there’s a lobster, potatoes or quinoa in the pot. It’s still a pot. As human beings, we try to attach to and try to manage all of the things in the pot.”
“You will become afraid or attached to anything that comes into that pot,” Kamini teaches, “We’re constantly trying to manage all of the things in the pot, looking for our space, when it’s there all along.”
“Imagine the lobster represents sadness. When sadness enters our space, we can start to believe we are sadness. The pot is not the lobster though. The lobster flows through it.”
“Sadness flows through us, but we are not sadness. It’s an impermanent state of you. When you can quite down the contents in the pot, then you can abide by your true nature. You won’t be able to not notice your true nature.”
WOW! I loved being invited to be a witness to my emotions, to feel them and then sit in that knowing that they are just flowing by. How would life look for you, if you didn’t need to react and respond to every feeling, emotion, thought or trigger that enters your space? Imagine the idea that you don’t have to take on the contents of other’s pots in order to be of service and help them on their journey? It’s pretty transformational thought, isn’t it?
How would life look for you, if you didn’t need to react and respond to every feeling, emotion, thought or trigger that enters your space?
Have You Thought Why You Feel Anxious?
Kamini also explained the feeling of discontent as the inability to be present. Remember a time you were anxious because you were in a hurry. She suggested the anxiousness is rooted in the fact that you’re not comfortable with being the present. You don’t want to be sitting at the red light, so you manifest the thought of wanting to be elsewhere into anxiety.
Our reality becomes: “I have attached myself to the fantasy of where I want to be over the reality of where I’m at.”
In reality, you are at the red light and, without doing something illegal, you can’t change that. It just is.
Yoga nidra helps you connect to the ability to be in the present moment, which empowers you to be comfortable in the present moment and release the discontent.
Bring Balance To Your Life
The feeling of being present is really the biggest gift I received from my first exposure to yoga nidra. It helped me view the sadness of my past experiences from a place of all that I am, not from a place of sadness. It empowered me to find appreciation for those experiences, which led to forgiveness of myself and others. Can you see how this might remove energy blocks and stress from your life?
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” -Albert Einstein
When sitting in a space of misalignment, Kamini suggests that you ask yourself, “What’s one place I see myself wanting things other than they are? How can I practice relaxing and give it space to move through and give my reaction space to move through?
I work with a lot of veterans, so talking speaking in terms of energy doesn’t always connect with them. The great thing about yoga nidra is that you don’t need to totally understand the power behind it. You don’t need meditation experience because yoga nidra is just taking you to the place that you already are. You don’t have to identify what you’re feeling or talk through some old story or trauma. Anyone has the ability to enter state of ‘turiya’, where all associations with our stresses and triggers are removed in order to allow spontaneous healing to occur. Just hearing the words ‘spontaneous healing’ gives me chills. Could you or someone you know benefit from spontaneous healing? If you’re human, I’m sure the answer is YES!
“45 minutes of yoga nidra is equivalent to 3 hours of sleep.”Kamini Desai
Rewire Your Brain with Neuroplasticity
The research behind yoga nidra is this: After approximately 11 sessions of yoga nidra your brain begins to rewire itself. Our brains have the ability to create new neural connections, also known as neuroplasticity. In her book ‘My Stroke of Insight’, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor discusses the importance of deep sleep and its contribution to creating new brain cells and neural pathways for recovery.
Information from Kamini’s website includes the fact that long-term studies at the University of London show chronic unmanaged emotional stress is as much as six times more predictive of cancer and heart disease than cigarette smoking. H. Eysenck. Br J Med Psychol. 1988; 61(Pt 1)
Our issues are stored in our tissue. The great thing is we get to choose to show up, claim our power and let them go...and with grace and ease. You’ve always been whole, love. The time is now to step into your infinite potential and unlimited self-expression of amazing YOU!
IMPORTANT NOTE: A 100-hour Certificate of Excellence is available at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts taught by Kamini Desai as part of the 600 or 800 hour Yoga Teacher Training program. The Yoga Nidra Certification may be taken by someone wishing to up-level their skills and learn a very powerful ay to serve in the world. The certification is offered twice a year at the educational facility known as Spirit of Yoga in Tempe, Arizona.