“Now we’re going to practice something called yoga nidra,” the teacher said 60 minutes into the 90-minute hot flow class. I didn’t know what yoga nidra was, but it definitely wasn’t part of the hot flow format, and from the very first second, I was completely and utterly resistant. I hadn’t come to this class to lie on my back and relax. I’d come to spend 90 minutes working hard and sweating. Instead, I was being asked to settle on my back, set an intention, and do a body scan. This was not part of what I’d planned on, and I decided from the first minute that I did not like this practice. Not one bit. I was never going to try it again.
But to paraphrase poet Joy Harjo, once you say never, you’ve pretty much guaranteed that the thing you never think will happen, never want to have happen, will definitely happen. And so it was a few months later, seeking help for insomnia, I downloaded the Insight Timer app and pulled up “Yoga Nidra for Sleep.” Sure, 30 minutes of nidra wasn’t what I wanted in my hot flow class. But I could lie down for 20 minutes in hopes that this would help me get better rest.
From there, I began to explore the other free yoga nidra practices available on Insight Timer. Then, when I began my Level 1 ParaYoga certification, I found that yoga nidra played a role in the curriculum, and my teacher, Rod Stryker, taught me approaches to nidra that I hadn’t encountered before. I moved away from just using yoga nidra as a way to manage insomnia, and made it part of my overall yoga practice. I’d gone from being completely resistant to completely in love.
Even as I was becoming enamored with yoga nidra, though, I never thought this would be the aspect of practice that I’d want to make my specialty. Yet as I’ve studied yoga nidra in more depth, and gotten more established in my own practice, I’ve become more committed to helping other people experience those benefits as well. I still love an intense, vigorous, physically demanding practice. But I’m also the type of person who tends to get too busy, work too hard, and need to slow down. Yoga nidra is how I finally learned to slow down and pay attention. And in a world where so many of us leave active lives with dozens of demands on our time, I think my role as a yoga teacher is to help people find the value in lying down, relaxing, and turning inward. I look forward to this new path my teaching is going. I hope to see you along the way.
Image copyright © Jennifer Piercy, Sacred Sleep Yoga