Born and raised in the West, where it is believed that more effort must be exerted to create and attain success, the ideas behind Yoga Nidra can be confusing.
Lying on one's back, seemingly not doing anything yet still being able to manifest more, reach higher heights and even improve life quality appears to be a paradox.
Yoga Nidra is actually a profound ancient yogic practice. In the West, yoga is usually seen as an exercise in which specific postures (“asanas”) are followed and there are many types of yoga such as Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hatha, Yin, Iyengar and Kundalini.
There are in fact “eight limbs” of yoga, only one of which is active postures. A yogic lifestyle includes more passive practices like non-violence, meditation and austerity. Yoga Nidra is a more spiritual, meditative, restorative practice where minimal body movements are involved. It is therefore accessible to everyone. Yoga Nidra provides a complement to and balance for those with a physical practice, even expert practitioners as its intention is very different.
Posture-centric yoga is designed to move energy through the body while allowing the mind to become more focused. It’s original purpose was to prepare the mind and body for practices such as meditation. Yoga Nidra, specifically I AM Yoga Nidra, is a series of breath and awareness techniques that take you into the same space that meditation does, but with less effort and discipline. While the ultimate goal may be knowing one’s true self, the physical, mental and emotional benefits derived from a Yoga Nidra practice are just the antidote we need for living in today’s stress-filled world.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Lynn Matthews, a Yoga Nidra teacher, yogi with more than 4,000 hours of training and 9,000 hours of teaching experience, and ask her a few questions
What initially piqued your interest in Yoga Nidra?
I was exposed to Yoga Nidra decades ago and loved the practice for its simplicity and its profound, often immediate, impact.
Are there any visible outcomes you have experienced or noticed from teaching or participating in Yoga Nidra?
So many! Practicing Yoga Nidra regularly helps one become more at peace despite what is happening around them so instead of life being a series of tidal waves and troughs, we can move through life’s challenges as though they were ripples.
How long does it typically take for one to witness the advantages of this practice?
The sense of restoration and rejuvenation at a very deep level is often immediate.
One question that may be present in all our minds, especially those hesitant to start, is whether or not Yoga Nidra will actually make a difference? Couldn’t someone can lie in Shavasana and just focus on a point or listen to some music, rather than paying someone to guide us through a meditation. Wouldn’t the same rewards and benefits be obtained by doing this?
Great question. Savasana is relaxation and is very beneficial. Yoga Nidra combines relaxation, visualization, meditation and intention together in a specific combination designed to drop you down through the different brainwave states into the space between waking and sleeping.
Different physiological benefits occur in the different brainwave states….cortisol is removed from the body, HGH is produced, the brain releases more serotonin and dopamine. The short-term and long-term effects are quite remarkable. Even though this is a many thousand-year-old technique, much scientific research has been done on yoga nidra over the past decades.
Are we missing something when it comes to thinking that we are in great health if all we do is focus on physical exercise, and eating healthy though not focusing on this type of practice?
Everything in life is about balance. From a yogic perspective, true health is the balance between tension and relaxation. Most of us live with too much tension. Focusing on activity and ‘doing’ with no true, deep relaxation or ‘being’ just perpetuates that imbalance. Yoga Nidra creates that deep relaxation so the body can rejuvenate and we can continue to meet the demands of life.
Lynn Matthews has a number of Yoga Nidra offerings at Sedonya including Power Your Potential with Yoga Nidra.