A yoga nidra, or yoga sleep, is akin to a deep meditation or guided imagery session, at least for those of us that practice yoga recreationally.
We did one at cancer yoga today. After 20 minutes of healing stretches, we lay down on several layers of blankets and mats, propped our knees and wrists on blocks, and lay so still that our fingers and hands begin to tingle. (Even those of us NOT taking taxotere chemotherapy!) Eventually, we all relaxed into a state of calmness and drowsed in and out as our yoga teacher read a meditation.
They say that the relaxation is so complete that a half hour of yoga nidra is equivalent to three hours of sleep. I’m not surprised. Eight hours have passed, and I am still soooooooooooo relaxed.
After the meditation was complete, our teacher gave a quick recap of the guided imagery that we had walked through. First, we relaxed every part of our body, starting at the right shoulder, working our way down to the toes and back up to the left shoulder and neck. Then we relaxed every part of our body alternating right and left sides. Then we …
I have no idea what happened after that. All I remember is the relaxing part, and then the yogi telling us that it was time to slowly wake ourselves up, wiggling first our little fingers and then our toes, and then stretching as we saw fit.
Apparently, there was a whole meditation on a lotus flower growing at the base of our spine, blossoming and blooming, and so forth. Apparently, the deep relaxation is a healing and calming relaxation. Apparently, the subconscious is in control even if the conscious is so relaxed that we’re no longer aware of our bodies in the room. Apparently, the benefits are so great that even if we believe that we’ve been sleeping, we’ve actually only been in deep meditation, and the benefits will last all day and perhaps beyond.
At this I gasped and said, “Really? The last thing I remember is you telling us to relax each part of our body, and then waking up again.”
Our yogi looked up at me kindly and replied at once, “You? You were asleep.”
Yeah, that sounds about right. What mom of little ones wouldn’t fall asleep, given a dark room, a comfy spot, plenty of blankets, and a soothing bedtime story?