Yoga Nidra is the current buzz phrase at yoga studios across town, from the bright white space of Venice’s Love Yoga to Yogala in Echo Park. While not a new practice, it’s gaining new devotees because of what it isn’t (no hardcore bending or sweaty exertion), as well as what it is (lying back on cushions while you’re led through a guided meditation).
Classes vary according to teacher, but they generally work like this: You lie down on cushions, prop up your head and cover yourself with a blanket (pro trick: put a bolster under your knees to lessen back tension). With eyes closed, you follow the instructor’s gentle instructions to relax individual body parts and count backward, in order to calm yourself physically and mentally.
Most interestingly, you’re asked to set an intention for your practice, and to state it in the present tense. (For example: “I am a healthy eater.” Not: “I will stop sneaking junk food at my desk.”)
Yoga Nidra’s aim is to lead practitioners into what’s called an alpha state of consciousness, that place between waking and sleep where your body is resting and your mind is awake. That way, even if you fall asleep during Yoga Nidra, your mind still registers the calming influence of the instructor’s voice. (Home practitioners: Try using apps and podcasts.)
The takeaway? Recently we opted out of after-work drinks and instead stopped in to a Yoga Nidra sesh at The DEN Meditation. We walked out feeling like we’d just had a long weekend nap—and we definitely can’t complain about that.