Last week, we joined yoga trainer Shannon Walter in a conversation about yoga nidra. This week, we’re diving into how yoga nidra actually feels. What can you can expect from a class? And more!

L: in the video I watched, Dr. Desai says, “yoga nidra gives us the space to choose our reactions to our thoughts.” And I thought that was really beautiful because that concept seems like it’s not only fundamental to yoga– that mindfulness aspect–but yoga nidra seems like a mindfulness on steroi

S: Well it is. There’s this piece about witnessing. You’re not your thoughts. You’re not your ego. You are the witness of those things. You can detach from it. And in yoga in general the philosophy of it is “You’re not your body. Your body is an aspect of your existence.” For most people, they think, this body is me. But yoga nidra is saying, it’s not you. There’s this self that actually we’re all a part. So it’s like how do you get beyond that? It could be that consciousness or that quiet.

L: When I was listening to that I thought about how when I’m driving and someone makes me mad. That would be a great practical moment to have a tool like this  Or when you hear really bad news. You can step back and you’re like, “Okay this how I’m feeling; this is how I’m going to choose to react.”

S: Right! I totally understand that some people may be put off and think oh that’s kooky yoga stuff. But It’s actually a tool that can relax people.

L: Yeah I’ve heard it’s been used for PTSD patients. And I’m sure with mental illness in general it can be beneficial.

S: I would not be surprised.

L: How do you teach yoga nidra and what can we expect from your class?

S: I teach it from my heart! I think it’s a beautiful practice, and hopefully you can expect find a little bit of peace and maybe a little bit more quiet. A little decompression.

L: How long is it?

S: It can be five minutes. In the workshop we’re gonna do stretching because you need your body to be a little bit quiet to take energy inside. The practice itself will be about 40 to 45 minutes. But there’s long pauses. There’s a lot of quiet time.

L: So it can be five minutes?

You’re basically taking components. You can take one component and do that. Focusing on the breathe. Counting from 27 to 1 as you inhale and exhale.

L: With practice, going from that place of big to small, do you get faster the more you do it, or is it always a step-by-step process?

S: It can be anything. Like working out, do you want to have an hour long workout or do you want a 15 minute workout?

L: Ah, I understand. Is there music?
S: Noo. No you don’t want anything. The only sensory input you want is the instructor guiding you. You don’t want candles. You don’t want light. You don’t want music. It’s like single pointed concentration.

L: Do you reach a point where you feel like you’re floating? 

S: There might be a weightlessness. It’s a less of a connection to your body. One thing I love about yoga. Yoga is very systematic practice. And yoga nidra is a very systematic practice for relation and quieting the mind.