relaxes body, eases mind
Boynton Beach resident Mitch Marx assumes the Anjali mudra position, or prayer position,
prior to a yoga nidra session at Simply Yoga in Delray Beach.
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Lona O’Connor
Of all the types of yoga, only one is associated with lying on the floor under a cozy blanket in a quiet room listening to a soft voice and music: yoga nidra.
“I figured this was one kind of yoga that I could do,” joked Betti Adams of Delray Beach. Adams first tried yoga nidra about a year ago at a session led by Kim Hough.
Yoga teachers often say that the hardest pose is to lie still doing absolutely nothing. This is the sole responsibility of a yoga nidra participant, to receive relaxation instructions from the teacher, who then invokes positive images during a session.
Before the lights go down at Yoga Sol, everyone in the room is asked to decide on one personal statement, called a sankalpa, that he or she will repeat silently at the beginning and the end of the session.
The sankalpa is brief, positive and stated in the present tense, such as “I am love” or “I create happiness in others.” It is meant to set the emotional tone for the yoga nidra session — and possibly for the future.
Almost immediately, a few light snores can be heard.
“Afterward, people say, ‘Oh, I don’t remember a thing!’” Hough said. However, the relaxation — and sometimes revelations — happen awake or asleep or in between.
Besides relaxing the body, yoga nidra can allow the practitioner to open up emotionally.
“Through the practice of yoga nidra we are restructuring and reforming our whole personality from within,” said Hough.
Julie Murphy watches over a yoga nidra class at Simply Yoga in Delray Beach.
Photo courtesy of Julie Murphy
During the session, the leader takes clients through eight stages of deepening relaxation.
“In that space, you are able to manifest the sankalpa, the key part of the practice. You can get out of your own way,” Hough noted.
Hough, who also teaches yoga and meditation, participated in her first yoga nidra session about 10 years ago.
Unlike a New Year’s resolution, which often focuses on correcting specific bad habits, the sankalpa “should honor the deeper meaning of our life,” Hough said.
Some people experience a relaxing hour, nothing more. Practitioners say that an hour of yoga nidra is equivalent to four hours of deep sleep.
Others have profound experiences, during or after the session. One woman said she recovered from writer’s block during a session.
Patty Flynn, of Boynton Beach, called her session with yoga teacher Julie Murphy “totally different” from other forms of meditation she practices. “I was able to see myself from outside. At one time I was laughing, smiling ear to ear, another time there were tears rolling down my face.”
Betti Adams did a yoga nidra session after a too-busy day and four hours of sleep. Later that evening, she visited her mother, who was recovering from surgery, in pain, and also not sleeping well.
“In spite of all that, we had our best visit ever,” said Adams. “We reminisced and shared feelings. And the next morning she told me she had her best night’s sleep since the surgery and amazingly, no pain. She was in a great mood and was puzzled about how suddenly the change had taken place.”
Those who lead a yoga nidra session can also reap its benefits.
Murphy, who has a melodious South African accent, always thought her voice was too deep. When her yoga students asked her to record a yoga nidra CD, she resisted.
“I thought, what if it’s a disaster? I had all that crazy self-doubt. Then I thought, what if I just do it anyway?”
During her period of self-doubt, a dear friend was dying of emphysema. She practiced yoga nidra with him.
“His anxiety and panic dissolved within a few minutes,” Murphy said. “Yoga nidra made him feel more at ease than he’d been in years.”
The friend died as Murphy was beginning to record Calm, her CD, which she dedicated to him.
• Kim Hough’s next yoga nidra session is 4-5:45 p.m. Jan. 17 at Yoga Sol, 215 NE 22nd St., Delray Beach. Cost is $25. For Hough’s full schedule and her relaxation CDs, visit www.balancedlivingwithkim.com.
• Julie Murphy’s next yoga nidra session is at 4 p.m. Jan. 3 at Simply Yoga, 2275 N Federal Hwy., No. 150, Delray Beach. Murphy also leads yoga nidra in hammocks every third Monday of the month at Defy Gravity Yoga, 5821 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. The next hammock session is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Jan. 18. Cost is $20. For information, call 809-0348. Julie’s Yoga Nidra CD is available at Shining Through and The Nutrition Cottage, and can be downloaded at www.yogaressa.com.