overflowing with love, where the essence of our true nature is known"
For those who are not familiar with Yoga Nidra, it is a state of consciousness described as "yogic sleep." There are a variety of approaches and techniques, but most of them use a guided meditation to bring you into as deep of a relaxed space as you can be while remaining awake and aware (not falling asleep). This state of consciousness is much more easily understood through experience than by describing how you may feel or listing the various benefits. Once in this state, various things may come up.
The practice is to surrender and witness whatever is arising. By giving yourself permission to rest, receive, and simply be with yourself, an opportunity for healing naturally occurs.
Throughout the course I observed our group open up in the most beautiful ways. I watched as they became more aware of physical sensation in the body, as well as acute tension in the subtle body. Yoga Nidra helps to bring awareness to areas we may be avoiding, or where awareness may be lacking. This could initially result in pain or discomfort. The opportunity here it to let go. Again, and again, until there's no longer a need for holding and the prana, or energy can flow freely again. By the end of the course it seemed that everyone was walking around in an extremely calm, dream-like state. I've noticed a similar response when teaching classes back home as people drop into a great sense of familiarity and ease.
In our busy day-to-day lives it can be rare to pause and 'do nothing.' I find that most people long for this form of nurturing and rejuvenation and usually sigh with relief upon arrival to a class. "You mean I just get to lay here?!?!" Yes, you can stop. Yes, you can be still. And yes, you can let it all go. The class environment really makes us put everything down and just for that hour unplug from our daily tasks completely. I've seen remarkable accumulated effects of this practice. Not only have I seen it lower blood pressure and reduce pain, but also help retrain the nervous system to respond to stress in a new way.
You don't have to be on a beach in the Bahamas to enter this state of consciousness. It takes you beyond time and space and even beyond this body. It shows us that any level of peacefulness and beauty that we may experience, is in fact, the peacefulness and beauty that we are. It teaches us that healing is possible and that we are the creators of our lives. Above all, Yoga Nidra reminds us that we always have access to a calm place within - a place that's overflowing with love, where the essence of our true nature is known.
I'm a fan of anything that brings us into greater contact with our inner knowing and increases our capacity to radiate peacefulness in the world. If you are new to Yoga Nidra, no experience is needed and no props are needed. All that is required is your full presence and if you are just beginning, you'll need the guidance of an instructor's voice. There are a lot great resources and recordings so I recommend experimenting with a few and finding a voice and style you connect with most. I'm excited to see Yoga Nidra brought into various communities, as I whole-heartedly believe it can benefit all.