Yoga nidra

FIRST, WHAT IS HATHA YOGA?

Hatha yoga combines slow movement with heightened awareness and breathwork. It originated in SouthEast Asia over 5000 years ago. The Sanskrit language was used to transmit wisdom. ‘Ha’ means ‘sun’, and ‘tha’ translates as ‘moon.’

Everyday activities require dynamic action (sun energy), and for balance and wellbeing it is crucial that we also relax and rest (moon). Hatha yoga is all about being active and passive every day, but not too much of either, to promote equilibrium.

YOGA NIDRA

In the second photo above I am lying down for yoga nidra, which is a very different to active movement (hatha yoga). So what exactly is nidra? Of course you have to feel it for yourself, but here are a few key points:

  • Yoga nidra is a form of meditation that happens lying down. It is great if you find sitting meditation a challenge. No physical effort is required.
  • There are a few stages to it. During the process your brain activity will alter between beta, alpha, and theta waves to induce a state of deep relaxation.
  • Yoga nidra supports dopamine production, which is known as the ‘happy hormone’: it brings us feelings of pleasure.
  • During the practice, all you have to do is listen, lie still, and let go. You will be guided through the meditation.
Photo by Leonie Fahjen

PROVEN BENEFITS

Many of my clients describe nidra as soothing, a gorgeous relaxation, or even pure bliss. Very little scientific research exists about the benefits of yoga nidra, so as always, I refuse to make wild claims or promise anything.

What we do know for sure from the research is that nidra has helped diabetes patients, those with a history of addiction, lots of health workers, and people from other walks of life.

It causes a significant decrease in stress levels and brings better quality sleep. During studies, some people reported feeling less pain: yoga nidra impacts on our perception in a positive way.

When I teach nidra, the session lasts from 40 minutes-one hour. Nobody can enter the room late. Previous yoga or meditation experience is not required: all are welcome to enjoy nidra.

Keep warm, and I’ll be seeing some of you soon.

-Kathryn.

Kathryn Crowley, MA Sociology of Health, is based in Kerry, Ireland. Use the contact page to request in person and online tuition.

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