The first time I ever practiced yoga nidra was during my yoga teacher training. It was towards the end of the 200 hour curriculum and taught one cold and rainy Monday evening. I was exhausted, and my mind had been working in over drive. After a bit of gentle yoga, we were instructed to get into a comfortable savasana position ( lying down on your back ) and then to rest there while we were guided through the nidra practice.
Over the next 45 minutes, my mind went crazy. I say that to be honest. I found it extremely uncomfortable. Even though I was becoming a yoga teacher, at that time I was more occupied with channeling my anxiety towards what my body was capable of, I was not practiced with truly stilling my mind. That came much later for me.
If I could know then what I know now, I would have embraced practices like yoga nidra and tools like meditation earlier in my life! Practices that actually help ground the body and balance the the autonomic nervous system. They’re not as flashy as a vinyasa practice, nor do they burn a vast amount of calories- but instead, they give you the chance for peace. They give you the opportunity to rest. Is there really a greater gift than that?
So what is yoga nidra anyway?
Yoga nidra is a guided meditation that your mind follows while you allow your body to fall into a deep place of rest while you lie comfortably on your yoga mat. Once you become familiar with the practice having a voice to instruct your experience feels amazing because you don’t have to do the work of holding space in your mind during the experience. Throughout the practice you’ll set an intention for your practice, be guided to become aware of different areas of your body, feel your breath, and move through a visualization.
Some nidra practices can be as short as 5 minutes (wonderful if you’re short on time, and want to relax before bed), or as long as an hour. Longer practices are extremely beneficial to ground the body and mind.
If you’ve never tried a yoga nidra practice before, I welcome you to explore the practice. I have a 30 minute yoga nidra meditation that was recorded last winter solstice (although it’s good at any time of the year). You can purchase this audio meditation, then go find a comfortable and warm place to lay down, and begin! I promise you’ll be glad you did.