Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra
For Relaxation and Restoration
by Carrie Jackson
A regular yoga and meditation practice can be used for relaxation and sleep, but some techniques may be more effective than others. One newer technique, Divine Sleep, is a practice that encourages participants to connect with themselves and focus within. C-IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist Jennifer Reis has more than 23 years of experience teaching yoga and meditation and has helped thousands of people tap into new sources of energy. Reis is the founder of Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra, a systematic approach to deep relaxation and transformation designed as a guided meditation that incorporates breath awareness, body scans and imagery. Reis says that in just one, 20-minute session, participants can achieve restoration and aid in healing of the body, mind and spirit. She is scheduled to be leading a 40-hour, five-day Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra teacher training at Heaven Meets Earth, in Evanston, from May 13 through 17, as well as a public 90-minute Divine Sleep workshop on May 16.
What does a regular session involve?
The teacher asks participants to set an intention, asking, “What is my heart’s deepest longing,” then leads the group through the five koshic levels of being in the eight stages of Divine Sleep. We start with a physical body scan to observe where we might be holding tightness or other sensations, and then observe our breath and then contrasting sensations like heavy and light. The fourth kosha, our “witness” level of being, invites us to notice with love and acceptance all that is within ourselves, and the fifth kosha allows us to settle into feelings of pure bliss. While the stages in Divine Sleep are always the same, the teacher will use a variety of themes and participants will respond differently to each practice.
How can meditating in a group be more powerful than alone?
The word yoga literally means “union”. In Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra and any other form of yoga, we connect with ourselves and others in the class, as well as connecting with something greater. In a group, we draw on other’s focused energy, which helps us experience our own focus, bringing about more depth of the experience. That synergy encourages feelings of safety and belonging. The group also becomes a community, and people appreciate the accountability of showing up and being a part of it.
Who is an ideal participant for Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra?
Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra is a simple and fast way to reset the nervous system, which can get out of balance by any number of triggers in our everyday life. This practice takes you out of active mode, or flight-or-fight, and switches you into the relaxation mode, the parasympathetic response, which is the body’s natural healing state where revitalization and regeneration occurs. This reset makes it beneficial for everyone, and especially wonderful for anyone suffering from trauma, anxiety, chronic pain, sleeplessness and PTSD. Children can also benefit from this practice who may have trouble focusing, sleeping or relaxing; and parents who are juggling too many demands. It’s been shown to help regulate blood pressure, improve sleep, strengthen the immune system and support the endocrine and cardiovascular systems.
How is Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra different from normal sleep?
Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra puts you in a blissful state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. The body is able to fully relax, but you can still hear and absorb information, even if you don’t remember it. Your subconscious is processing everything, while you are in a deep state of conscious rest. Divine Sleep is the antidote to modern life. You can get the benefits of two to three hours of sleep in just one 20-minute Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra session. You can practice Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra anytime and almost anywhere. Taking that time out during your day helps to reset your whole being, allowing you to enjoy life fully.
What benefits can a participant expect?
While participants will typically feel better after just one Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra session, the benefits are accumulative with more practice. On a basic level, the deep relaxation results in myriad health benefits that come with an improved quality of sleep. With increased sessions, you start tapping into your deepest wisdom more freely and living more each day from a place of love and acceptance. The mindfulness techniques help you to start using the higher mind to respond, instead of reacting, to what comes up in your day and override the limiting beliefs that hold you back from fully living. You are able to more and more witness with love and acceptance all that you are and all that the world is around you.
For more information, updated training and workshop schedule or to register, [email protected] or visit JenniferReisYoga.com or HeavenMeetsEarthYoga.com.
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect at CarrieJacksonWrites.com.