Dear yoginis and yogis,
Happy New Year! January is a time for new year’s resolutions, and I am happy to see that many London yoga studios offer “New Year’s workshops” which include a yoga nidra practice, meant to help people attain their goals for 2017. The yogibanker and myself went to such a workshop on January 7th with the wonderful Sheila Bennett at the West London Buddhist Centre, and came back relaxed and inspired. I am glad that yoga nidra is so well known and its benefits are so recognised in London’s vibrant yogic community.
Yoga nidra, or “yogic sleep”, is a form of meditation first developed by the Bihar School of yoga in India. Students lie down comfortably and are guided by the teacher’s voice for 20 to 40 minutes. The teacher begins by guiding students through a body-scan which allows them to focus on every part of their body and their breathing. The state which is reached through this practice is a deep relaxation, resembling a modern form of hypnotherapy. The ensuing visualisation of objects and actions (such as bathing under a fountain which washes our worries away, or sitting in a secret garden to feel safe and nurtured, or climbing on a mountain top to overcome challenges) are left as vague as possible, so that every student really sees their own story and it becomes a very personal “trip” which can bring memories or intuitive messages up from the subconscious level.
This has allowed many students to realise that the answers to their most pressing questions are deep inside of them. All it took was silencing their mental chatter and hearing the triggers inbuilt in the “story”, for the voice of their intuition to emerge.
The element of yoga nidra which makes it particularly relevant in the new year is the sankalpa, or “resolve”, a short and secret personal affirmation (always formulated in positive terms) which the students repeat to themselves on cue at the beginning and the end of the practice. In the yoga nidra state, the message is imprinted deeply into their subconscious mind. Healing of unhelpful patterns does take place, I have experienced it on myself and seen it happen to many of my students, as I have been teaching yoga nidra for several years.
Find a teacher whose voice you like and who teaches in a cozy studio, and you can embark on this fascinating journey yourself. A one-off session will provide wonderful relaxation. For transformation to happen, regular sessions are recommended. In between live sessions with a teacher, you can listen to recordings every day in the comfort of your home. Realising your goals “whilst you sleep” – doesn’t that sound enticing?