A World Away: Teaching Yoga Nidra in India

Posted by Laura McKinzie on 5/7/18 2:25 PM

India gets into your soul. Seeing it is like meeting again with an old friend—a re-acquaintance with a land that is transformative, inspiring, and pure magic.

India is also vast and profoundly diverse in its landscapes, languages, customs, and clothing.  The big cities, and even some small towns, bustle with activity 24/7. It is said that India can be an assault on the senses and can lead to a feeling of “culture shock,” yet I feel otherwise. India touches a place within you that is as old as time itself. It reminds you that you are infinite. It reminds you of your Truth.


A Pilgrimage of Love

My first trip to India was in March of 2017, when I was invited to assist the Integrative Amrit Method of Yoga Nidra (I AM Yoga Nidra) Professional Training with Kamini Desai, PhD. I was excited and scared, probably in equal amounts, as this would be my first trip outside of North America. Friends and family could not believe I would choose a country that was literally halfway around the world for my initial travel abroad experience, yet saying “YES” to life has been my motto for a long time.

Laura-Mckinzie-SWIHA-Yoga-Nidra-1After flying for two days, I arrived in this ancient land. I traveled to Kripalu Samadhi Mandir in Malav, Gujarat. This is the resting place of Swami Kripalvananda, lovingly known as Bapuji, or “beloved father.” Bapuji was a master of kundalini yoga who spent his entire life searching for liberation, eventually entering a transcendental state. As a self-described “pilgrim on the path of love,” Bapuji practiced yoga for ten hours a day and spent the final 18 years of his earthly life observing a vow of silence. He is credited with the restoration of the temples of Karvan, which now serves as a place of pilgrimage for those wishing to observe yogic principles.  

Traveling anywhere certainly pushes you out of your comfort zone and into the unknown, yet traveling to India brought about another level of surrender. Letting go is exactly what I needed to connect more deeply to ancient wisdom and the Highest Truth. 

Saying YES to Yoga Nidra… Again!

My first trip to India was so incredible that I said “YES” once again—this time to Malav Ashram to assist the I AM Yoga Nidra Training in January of 2018. In addition to the Yoga Nidra training, I also had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching a living lineage be passed down by Amrit Desai (Gurudev) to his daughter Kamini and his son Malay. The Lord Lakulish Lineage of Light Puja and Transmission ceremony was absolutely beautiful. It was a ceremony of unconditional love and an amazing moment of celebration—a true blessing to witness.

To be gifted with the opportunity of teaching Yoga Nidra in its birthplace of India was life-changing. I cannot express in words what it was like to assist I AM Yoga Nidra on the sacred grounds of Bapuji’s Temple (Maha Samadhi). How do you put into words an experience that defies any knowing or understanding within the mind? What I do know is assisting, holding space, practicing, and teaching at Malav Ashram is an absolute privilege, and one that I will hold in my heart forever.

My Own Place on the Mat

Laura-Mckinzie-SWIHA-Yoga-Nidra-2In fact, it was an experience that brought to mind and heart my own introduction to the practice. It was six years ago that I took the Amrit Yoga Nidra Training at Spirit of Yoga with Kamini Desai. At that point, I had been teaching yoga for a decade, yet I had never been able to take the Yoga Nidra training. It was not until I was teaching in the 200-hour Unity Yoga Teacher Training Program when my chance finally arrived.

What I learned in that training and have shared with many students is that Yoga Nidra is the foundation to everything I know about yoga. The Integrative Amrit Method of Yoga Nidra is one of the most comprehensive trainings I have ever received. Kamini Desai is a humble, authentic, and peace-filled caretaker of this ancient wisdom. I knew if an opportunity arose where I could continue to study and support this training, I would. As many of us at SWIHA know, what you put out into the world comes back to you. Happily, Kamini asked if I would assist her in the training at SOY. I have had the absolute good fortune for the last four years to assist Kamini when she brings this training to Spirit of Yoga. We are so fortunate to have Kamini and the powerful transmission of this lineage at SOY.

Ultimately, India and Yoga Nidra have changed the way I share wisdom in the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program. It’s an experience that touches the heart, sparks your True Light, fills your whole being, and passionately asks to be shared. It is with a grateful heart that I humbly move forward, sharing my light and passing on the gift of Yoga, Yoga Nidra, and the magic that is India.

My Favorite Quote from Sri Swami Kripalu (Bapuji)

Laura-Mckinzie-SWIHA-Yoga-Nidra-3My beloved child, break your heart no longer.

Every time you judge yourself you break your own heart.

You stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality.

The time has come.

Your time.

To live, to celebrate, and to see the goodness that you are.

You, my child are divine.

You are pure.

You are sublimely free.

You are God in disguise, and you are always perfectly safe.

Do not fight the dark, just turn on the light, and breathe into the goodness that you are.

Learn Yoga Nidra!

Topics: Yoga Teacher Training, yoga nidra, yoga, spirit of yoga, India

About the Author Laura McKinzie

Laura McKinzie is an experienced yoga teacher at the 500-hour level (E-RYT 500), as well as the founder of It’s a Succulent Life, which inspires people to live their best life now through the practice of Yoga and Yoga Nidra. She currently serves as the Director of Yoga Teacher Training at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) in Tempe, Arizona. Since 2012, Laura has led the 200-hour “Unity” Yoga Teacher Training Program at SWIHA, teaching hundreds of students the ancient science of yoga. She is also a Yoga Nidra Facilitator, having completed the Advanced Amrit Yoga Nidra Training Program, and is a part of the Amrit Yoga Nidra Teaching Faculty at SWIHA.

Laura McKinzie

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