Most people that start to practice yoga come into it with the singular goal of improving their physical health. It is only later they come to understand yoga also calms the mind. Through the acceptance of a pose, a flow, or a meditative state, mindfulness and acceptance is gained.
My yogic journey started many years ago. During that journey I have tried many different practices. I have experienced Vinyasa, Hatha, Bikram, Yin, and very recently Nidra. I will admit that, for most of this journey, my favorite has been Vinyasa. I come from an athletic background and I work in a very physical job. So Vinyasa flow seemed to fit well with my expectations of yoga. That is, until recently. Sometime in the last year or so, I realized that there are times I need a different form of yoga. And what I need my not be what I am used to or one I am comfortable with. It is no different than when I need to see a different medical specialist instead of my regular physician.
Stumbling upon Yoga Nidra
Enter my recent experience with Yoga Nidra. As with most of my new yoga experiences, it happened by accident, because of a small pamphlet found at a local restaurant. I picked up the pamphlet advertising a new yoga studio. Soon I myself wondering up the steps leading to this new place. Of course I had signed up for a Vinyasa class. The practice went well and I felt so welcomed that I knew I would come back as soon as my schedule permitted. As fate would have it, my next opportunity to return put me in my first Nidra practice. I had never practiced Nidra before. Actually I didn’t have a clue what Nidra was.
And, honestly I found it a bit disconcerting! It was not what I expected. It was different. It didn’t flow. I was told to relax and open my mind. I found this difficult. I have a problem relaxing (one of the many reasons I practice yoga). “Don’t clear your mind” the instructor said, but “accept what comes into your mind”. This was new to me. I was uncomfortable. I left feeling bewildered. I was confused. That is, until I looked back on the class and on my own expectations. What I expected was a Vinyasa flow. Why, I can’t tell you. I knew what I was signing up for. I signed up for Nidra.
Finding Comfort in the Practice
Trying to be a “good yogi” I returned for another Nidra class with the same great instructor. But this time I came to class with a with a different yogi attitude. I arrived with a more open mind. I told myself that Nidra is different from Vinyasa. It is slower. It is slower than Hatha. That is because its journey is different. Vinyasa and Hatha are about finding acceptance and mindfulness through your pose (note I didn’t say a perfect pose – I said “your” pose). Nidra also uses poses, but in combination with meditation. Practicing Nidra allows you to focus on what comes into your mind. As I see it, Yoga Nidra and meditation allows you to concentrate on the flow of the mind.
So what of that practice? Was it successful? For me, yes it was a successful practice because I learned something new. I learned that there are times that Nidra will be a better practice for me than Vinyasa. Just as there will be times when Hatha or Yin are more appropriate. I learned what I already knew. That yoga is a practice. And Yoga Nidra is a practice that I will continue to include in my life’s journey.
As I always do, I look forward to the next time I find myself on the mat, reminding myself that I am on a long and grateful journey to find acceptance and mindfulness. And I am thankful for all the other yogis out there accompanying me on this great and joyful journey. ~ Namaste
Have you tried Yoga Nidra or other types of meditation? How did it go for you? Tell us below!