I was drug to my first Yoga Nidra class by one of my yoga buddies in September. Struggling as I did with Savasana, I was not thrilled with the idea of an hour long Savasana class. My friend assured me it would be worth it, and that it might even help me with my Savasana issues. She was right; it was amazing.
If you’ve never been, Yoga Nidra, which means Divine Sleep, is a guided meditation class, for lack of a better explanation. The first half helps you enter a state of deep relaxation, then the second part takes you on a journey. Each one is different, and your experience with each class is different.
During that first class the teacher had a stranger come to our door. It was someone we had never met, and weren’t quite sure we felt safe or comfortable with them. They took us on a journey that was long and difficult, and we came to rely on them and trust them. The helped us navigate a forest, traverse a lake, then climb a mountain. I have no idea what happened after that, except that I suddenly heard it was time to start to move again. I didn’t want to! As we were leaving, I asked my friend what her guide had been like and she said “what are you talking about?”. She had entered into the Divine Sleep before the guided meditation even started!
I just finished my fourth class, and the only part of the journey I went on was the opening statement “we’re going on a journey”. From that point on I was in the state of Divine Sleep and was no longer aware of what the teacher was saying. I was in a state of total relaxation, unaware of anything going on around me, yet not asleep. It is the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. I left tonight’s class feeling such a profound sense of peace. I wasn’t happy, or joyful, or elated, I was simply me. I was neither good nor bad, I felt no sense of judgement towards myself. I felt like I’m here and it is okay; I am okay. For me, that’s saying something.
Perhaps this is the self love I’m seeking? If I were to compare it to a relationship, it wasn’t a new love, with roses and candles and excess expressions of adoration. It was the love of the older couple who has been together for 50 years, and simply are together. It was the kind of love that demands nothing except that you exist.
I did some reading about this when I got home, because it makes no sense to me that a lack of awareness could bring me such peace and love. I found this article in which the researcher used pet scans to measure the brain activity of people doing Yoga Nidra.
This Denmark researcher found remarkable changes in the brain during Yoga Nidra. The article is fascinating, but the conclusion is stunning:
The results confirm the experience of the yogi: Concentration is a spontaneous state, which comes of its own accord when a method is used that removes whatever is hindering it.
And as the doctors said: ” It proves that the 1.5 kg (brain mass) with the unknown content can control its own activity in an astonishingly precise manner. From a holistic point of view, it indicates that the soul and body act in unity.”
For me, I am a convert. I realized tonight that I have been stagnant in my self growth because I let my meditation practice lapse. I believe that the only way I can learn to fully love and care for myself is through meditation, and I’ll be back to my regular schedule tomorrow.
Having grown up on Star Wars, I think that perhaps I’ve found The Force.