When a yoga nidra class started at my local yoga studio, Midlands Yoga it took me a few weeks to get myself along to it. It had been the same with the hatha class I’d attended for over two years, I was nervous about starting something new. As a creature of habit though I stuck at hatha and turn up every week for the class.
I new very little about yoga nidra though other than it involved the practice of yogic sleep where you enter a state of conciousness between wake and sleep in which you completely relax. Having struggled with yogic meditation from day one I was a little nervous about this. It had taken me ages to even close my eyes during the 10 minutes of meditation at the end of hatha as I find it incredibly hard to switch off, I like to be in control. I have however mastered this and can now comfortable relax during meditations.
I knew very little about yoga nidra though but it helped that the teacher is a friend of mine who had studied this art in India and I know had fully immersed herself in the practice. Annette’s attention to detail in the studio is wonderful, when entering you feel an immediate sense of calm and peacefulness. Candles flicker and the scent of subtle oils fill the air, the lighting is minimal and the room feels safe and welcoming.
Taking my place on the yoga mat I feel completely at ease to lie down and close my eyes until the class begins as others often do. The choice of music playing can transport you to far flung places and helps to steer your thoughts from the everyday and mundane.
When Annette takes her place to welcome us and the class begins I know that for the next hour I am safe, not only from the outside world but from any thoughts and emotions that may have troubled my day.
We begin with some breathing exercises and visualisation that gradually builds to some gentle rotations and stretching. The yoga practice is mat based and needs little exertion but frees both your joints and your mind ready for the practice of yoga nidra which takes up the second half of the class.
Annette encourages us to make ourselves comfortable on the mat, the room is nice and warm but if neccessary you can cover yourself with a blanket or take a pillow. The main thing is that you are completely comfortable and relaxed.
I’ve been attending Annette’s class at Midlands Yoga now for around eight months and could probably recite a lot of what I hear during yoga nidra. In fact I do sometimes say parts to myself if I’m struggling to sleep or even when I’m on a long run and need to relax into it. However, I’ll not repeat the practice here as I feel it’s important that this is something that is experienced personally. I believe that it is Annette’s attention to detail, the dedication she has given to this discipline and the aura that she generates around the class that takes me to the places I visit during yoga nidra.
I can say in all honesty that I have never experienced a feeling like when I am in that deepest possible state of relaxation. For me personally it has unlocked a doorway in my mind and taken me to a place that has remained hidden from me for years. Having lost my father at a young age I have suffered with memory block, I can’t recall years prior to his death, his voice or much about him. During yoga nidra I am receiving small but significant flashbacks of memory, conversations, places, items of clothing. Tiny glimpses of another space in time that have been lost in my mind are gradually released. Each week another piece of the jigsaw, over time some precious memories which are helping to heal a loss I found hard to grieve for.
I’m not sure that this is commonplace or even a normal reaction to yoga nidra. What I do know is that this class has become part of that habit forming yoga practice that I can’t do without. By the time I leave the yoga studio each Friday evening I am free of any burdens I have carried during the week and feel lighter in mood and spirit. What’s more, I am taking a little bit more of me back home becuase yoga nidra is both nourishing and healing my mind.
If you want to try yoga nidra out for yourself then I highly recommend Annette's class at Midlands Yoga on a Friday evening from 5.30-6.30pm