I’m lucky to have the chance to practice yoga in my workplace, as the institute I work at holds weekly yoga classes on a Monday evening from 6pm for just a fiver. The sessions are led by the lovely Bandhana who takes us through a full 90 minutes of open yoga for all abilities, the perfect start to a working week.

Bandhana showing off her 3 legged dog (http://www.innercalmyoga.com/)

This week, after our usual yoga routine, we got to try out yoga nidra or ‘yogi sleep’  – a sleep-like state yogis can enter during their meditation and one of the deepest states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness.

Yoga nidra refers to the conscious awareness of the deep sleep state

I was a little hesitant about the practice, having struggled with meditation and stillness in previous yoga classes, but I was excited at the prospect of completely switching off and de-stressing from a busy London life so went in with an open mind. I’m also on day 46 of my 5×50 challenge, 50 days of 30 minutes of yoga a day, so with only a few days left I was keen to discover new ways to challenge myself with my yoga practice.
After donning socks and an extra layer, popping a rolled up mat under my knees and a yoga block under my head to support my neck, we got comfortable in Savasana (corpse pose) – lying on the back with the arms and legs out at 45 degrees, eyes closed and breathing deeply. Complete relaxation. We would be here for a full 45 minutes so it was important to set our intention, focus on our breathing and listen as Bandhana guided us through the practice.
I’ll be honest, the session went by in a bit of a blur and looking back on it I can only remember a few things that Bandhana was talking about, the rest I have very little memory of. I remember her telling us to go through each and very body part, releasing tension from areas we felt we held it most, and emptying our minds of thoughts that entered. I remember her telling us to start counting down from 54. ‘Inhale 54, exhale 54, inhale 53, exhale 53…’ and so on until we reached zero or forgot where we were, in which case we were to start again at 54. I remember her telling us to picture in our minds what we were doing here and now, as if we were looking in on ourselves, taking a photograph almost, and then repeating this looking back every 30 minutes until we reached that morning when we woke.

You know when you’re tired on a bus or train or car, and you feel your head slowly dropping to one side, nodding almost and you start drifting into a light sleep, and then suddenly you wake with a jerk and don’t remember if you had been sleeping for a second or an hour? This happened a few times during my practice. I’ve never experienced that in another yoga class, even if we have been lying down in savasana at the end of an intensive session of vinyasa flow. I could just feel myself drifting off and as soon as I did I would re-focus, roll my head back to centre and concentrate on my breath and Bandhana’s words. After 45 minutes we were ‘awoken’ gently and rather than feeling sleepy, as I expected, I felt refreshed and more awake.

I can’t wait to try out yoga nidra again soon, it’s definitely an indulgent form of relaxation and I think, like any type of yoga, the more you practice the better you will become and the more you can take away from it. Namaste!

*Photos c/o InnercalmYoga, please take a look at the beautiful Bandhana’s website for lots of yoga inspiration!

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