Yoga Nidra is a guided relaxation/meditation practice where the practitioner is led through a creative exploration of the 5 Koshas (layers of being): physical, energetic, mental/emotional, intuitive and bliss.
We lay down get comfortable, we become still. The brain gears down, the body drops into healing mode, and the mind starts to quieten. The aim is to stay awake throughout, though falling asleep is common, or to get a sense that you were aware, but not remember the practice entirely. Time and space disappear, leaving you to experience pure consciousness.
What makes this practice transformational is when the practitioner takes advantage of the slower, more receptive, relaxed brain state to plant (when guided) a single, positive, personal “I AM” statement (Sankalpa). Here, we can access the wiring of our subconscious mind to release and reprogram beliefs and perceptions that are no longer serving our growth. With dedication to a powerful Sankalpa, we can create new, positive pathways within, accessing the inner resources readily needed at this stage of your evolution.
Life Before Nidra
I took my first Yoga Nidra class in 2007 when I flung myself into Yoga to help me recover from a breakup (with the man I am now gratefully and happily married to). I was angry, sad, hurt, resentful, and had become dispassionate and lacking the spark for life that I had previously possessed. I sought out Yoga as a healthy “hobby” for healing. I had taken asana classes in the past and they made me feel amazing, so I bought an unlimited pass and committed to going to class daily. My weekly Nidra class, however, felt like the missing piece – quiet, deep and introspective, it was quality time focused on my soul and healing my heart.
Falling In Love With Nidra
It only took one Nidra class to fall completely in love. The way I felt afterwards was indescribable. Each Tuesday I would float home, grounded and clear. The first Sankalpa I ever worked with was “I am the embodiment of joy & light.” I lived and breathed that affirmation of who I knew myself to be underneath the heaviness. Day by day, I began to see the light I was beginning to stoke within me being reflected back. I saw beauty even in the darkest moments – a perspective I continue to hold, that life’s hard knocks are actually an opportunity in disguise.
Sharing From The Seat Of The Student
I never intended to teach. I walk into class as a student sharing their imperfect exploration of a limitless, life-long practice. I took a training in Bali in 2011 to deepen my personal practice, and that’s where everything changed. I taught for 7 minutes (it was terrifying!), but what I taught surprised me: Stillness and Peace. I remember thinking, If I were ever to teach anything, it would be Yoga Nidra. I still feel that way.
My Life, My Nidra
This is the practice I love and prefer to give wherever and whenever I can. I get oddly protective of it because it has given – and has returned to me – some of the most valuable pieces of my heart and soul. It holds some of the most potent medicine I could ask for; its wisdom keeps me coming back, even when I shy away from turning inward and diving into the depths of what I am processing. It has helped to piece together a heart continuously opened by love, loss and change, to find healing and patience in times of illness, injury or uncertainty, to weather storms, and to gather strength when I’m running on empty…
It is a strong tool to access authenticity and truth. It’s impossible not to call my own bullshit now. It has shown me that we are not the naggings of our physical bodies or the steady stream of thoughts running through our heads. We are not as limited as we believe. We have a lot of choice in not only how our life shows up, but how we face what we feel we didn’t choose.
Nidra is perfect for our chronically over-tired, over-stressed culture, but just as the physical practice becomes more than just about the body, Nidra beckons us to become still – that elusive golden key that unlocks big change.
Diving deeper into this practice over the last 4 years, in particular, has been the biggest game changer. I feel both like a different version of myself and a woman who is more of the person that she has always been. I have greater ownership over the parts of myself that help me be truthful to myself, what I need and don’t, and a stronger mirror to my imperfections which serve to help me grow.
Fascinated by the power of breath, stillness and intention as a gateway to wholeness and healing, Allison Goundry shares the quiet-yet-transformative practice of Yoga Nidra to willing souls looking to become more deeply acquainted with the inner landscape of who they are.
Images of Allison: www.brentcalisphotography.com