Finding Comfort at the Dentist
It was time to reconstruct some old fillings and so I prepared myself for the hour long visit with some calming essential oils and a relaxing morning meditation. I made sure I had my headphones and was dressed warmly enough to bear the air conditioning and chills of the sounds of the drill. Many dentist offices provide music or television as a distraction, but today I wanted to heal not be distracted. I'd never practiced yoga nidra in the dentist chair, so this was going to be a first. I have a long playlist of yoga nidra from courses I've taken and classes I've taught, so I picked a favourite and let the dentist know I would not be available for chit chat.
Step one is to relax the body so I uncrossed my ankles, tucked my shoulder blades under and took a few long deep breaths as the recording started. A familiar voice guided me away from the smells and sounds of the dentist's office. I was only vaguely aware of the poking and prodding going on in my mouth. The dentist assured me earlier that freezing wouldn't be necessary so I was truly glad I had planned to practice yoga nidra. I chose a recording with a double body rotation so that I'd be assured of full physical relaxation. I have to admit, it was a pretty sweet experience remaining in that zone under those circumstances.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga nidra is a guided meditation, usually done lying down, that results in a wonderful state of physical and mental relaxation. As there are many schools of yoga, there are different approaches, intentions and methods. (I am trained in the Satyananda lineage and have also studied Richard Miller's work called iRest.) The benefits of yoga nidra are similar to that of meditation, but it is a much more accessible practice as it is guided and predictable. Students begin with short practices of about 15 minutes and work up to hour-long ones. In the short practices only a few of the stages are included. In longer practices, students will experience more challenging stages such as visualizations. As with any practice, it is important to start slowly, practice regularly and build on the practice over time. What tends to happen if students jump into longer recordings is that they fall asleep and don't receive the full benefit of the practice.
What's the best way to start with Yoga Nidra?
As with any yoga practice, it is best to work with a qualified teacher (rather than selecting a random app or recording from You Tube). If you practice with a teacher present, she will be able to adjust the practice as she observes how you respond to each cue. You may take longer settling and finding a comfortable position, you may become agitated or emotional and the teacher can accommodate as necessary. Once you've had a few sessions and gain some familiarity with the practice, you will understand better what and what not to include in your practice. So have a look for yoga nidra classes in your area. If not, I work with students privately in person and by video-chat.
Yoga Nidra Preliminary Stages
As I mentioned, you want to start with a 15 minute practice so you learn to stay awake and aware throughout the class or recording. If you are unable to stay awake for a 15 minute practice, then reduce the time until you can. Stage one is where you settle, get comfortable, consciously relax the physical body and begin to tune out the sounds and sensations around you. Then in stage two, you will be guided through a body rotation where you scan the body part by part according to the instructions. The idea here is that where the thought goes, energy and healing will follow. Stage three is a breath practice. This is where most students fall asleep. At the beginning, this part will be kept short so the awareness is not lost. And then stage four is the slow guiding back to full awareness and body movement. Once you can practice those four stages without falling asleep, then your instructor will add more stages. And of course, this will vary depending on the school of yoga you are practicing with.
Are there any on-line references you recommend?
Yes! There is a terrific on-line yoga magazine published by the Bihar School of Yoga. If you enter yoga nidra in the search bar, you will find many interesting articles on the practice and its benefits. Here is one to start with: Yoga Nidra: Its Advantages and Applications.
For more information on yoga nidra, book a private session with Sadhana.
Integrative Healing with Sadhana offers instruction and guidance as a full healing package or you can choose individual practices such as Yoga, Meditation, Reiki, Space Clearing or Intuitive Readings in Gibsons BC. Either way, you will be met exactly where you are at and together, we will adapt practices to fit your individual needs improving your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.