Yoga nidra is the meditative heart of yoga. I have written about it many times in my posts but wanted to dedicate one post strictly to what it means and how found a love for yoga nidra. When people hear yoga they usually think of the traditional moving, flowing exercise that focuses on various poses and the breath. I adore yoga and try to incorporate it into my life as often as possible. As a stay at home mom in the morning I have to choose between yoga or a more active exercise. Eighty percent of the time I chose an active exercise because it gets my heart pumping, body sweating, and revs up my endorphins. The best part is my daughter loves dancing next to me as I do a cardio work out. Of course, running is my favorite exercise of all but this snow and winter has made that very difficult to do.
Yoga nidra is not about movement; in fact it is the complete opposite. When I started to learn how to manage pain naturally I joined a yoga studio and went five days a week. This was obviously pre-motherhood! I often went when there was very few students in class and many times it was just me and the instructor. I went into class one day a tired mess. I had had an awful day with chronic pain and a horrible argument with my boyfriend. I barely slept the night before and literally walked into the studio with bags under my eyes and dried tears on my face. The instructor (who got to know me quite well) explained that she was going to change things up that day. I was the only person in class and she told me she thought I could use some nidra in my life. I had no clue what she was talking about. She asked me to lay down in corpse pose, which is usually the ending pose in a yoga session where one focuses solely on breathing. I was quite confused and really wanted to move but I followed her advice and told her I would try this nidra thing out. I laid down on my yoga mat with pillows and blankets and she put a yoga nidra CD into the CD player. All of a sudden I heard a bell ringing and opened my eyes, fifty five minutes had gone by and I had no idea. I felt amazing, mildly drugged and confused but amazing. Within twenty minutes I was wide awake and felt like a new person. That amazing instructor had taught me something I never would tried if she had not pushed me towards it. I fell in love with yoga nidra that day and went right on Amazon and bought myself a copy. I had no idea how popular this yoga nidra was! Now (especially as a mother who does not sleep well) cannot imagine my life without yoga nidra.
People with chronic pain generally struggle to sleep and find it almost impossible to relax. The less sleep people get with chronic pain the worse their chronic pain is the higher the pain, the more difficult it is to sleep. It is a terrible cycle. Just as the cycle with chronic pain and anxiety and chronic pain and depression. When I first started managing chronic pain naturally the most difficult thing for me to do was meditate so I never thought I would be able to practice yoga nidra. Yoga nidra has helped my chronic pain, my anxiety, and depression. I have never been able to nap even prior to my brain surgery. As a child when I was put down for a nap I spent that time jumping on my bed or scrolling through books. I have never been able to nap even during my drinking days which resulted in awful hangovers. I still find it almost impossible to believe that I am able to fall into a deep sleep when I throw in my yoga nidra CD.
I try to do this every day but that is not always possible. It has become an extremely important tool in my chronic pain management program. When my daughter goes down for a nap, I lay next to her and press play on my CD player. It is no more than an hour but once I open my eyes it feels as if I have slept for six hours. One sets an intention in the beginning of the practice and within a few minutes drifts into a “sleep.” It feels like being hypnotized. I was unable to practice yoga nidra today and can honestly feel the difference. I’m hooked.
Yoga nidra is not just for people suffering from chronic pain. Anyone who has difficulty sleeping needs to get themselves a yoga nidra cd. Once I have an infant again I am most certainly going to be in huge need of my nidra. Lack of sleep causes so many people (who do not have chronic pain) depression and anxiety. In our society we put sleep on the back burner of our busy lives and wonder why we get sick so often and are so cranky. I despise the phrase “I’ll sleep when I die.” What an uplifting thought?!?! People who say that really need to calm the hell down and relax.
It took me thirty years to be able to nap and I will be honest it takes listening to my yoga nidra CD to do so but I am totally okay with that. You cannot lose what you do not have. Google yoga nidra and instead of buying sleeping pills spend eight bucks for a CD.