In a nutshell: Yoga Nidra means “yogic sleep.” A class consists of students being talked through relaxation and guided meditation while they recline on their mats.
Why try it: Said to be as refreshing as several hours of sleep. Extremely calming to the mind and body, de-stressing, and excellent preparation for sleep.
Level of fitness required: Minimal. After a short, gentle series of yoga poses you will be lying on the floor, wrapped up warm, and the only activity expected of you is listening.
What to wear: Yoga gear, or pants you can stretch in. Long-sleeve tops are OK: you won’t break into a sweat during the flow portion. Bring a jacket to cover up with if you get cool for the yoga nidra component. No shoes required.
What to bring: A yoga mat, or you can rent one at the studio for $2.
The experience: Mellow. The teacher, Carol Collins, begins with breathing and intention setting, then leads students in a candle-lit room through an undemanding, slow, vinyasa flow to get the kinks out of the body in preparation for lying still (the hardest pose will likely be Warrior II). Next you make yourself comfortable beneath blankets and lie supine on your mat as you are talked through yoga nidra. Beginning with setting a sankalpa (a resolution), including a body scan — focussing attention on a single body part at a time as the instructor calls them out in sequence — and continuing with a guided visualisation. Afterwards students are treated to tea and cookies in the lounge.
What you’ll want to know before you go: Barriers to entry are fairly low: you’re mostly lying down with your eyes closed. You’ll be barefoot for the active part of class. Although it’s not recommended, you may fall asleep during the yoga nidra (and if you don’t, you may hear snores from your neighbours). The lights will probably be low during yoga nidra.
How you’ll feel afterwards: Seriously refreshed, as though you’ve had several hours of deep sleep. You’ll continue feeling great the next day: well-rested, calm, and able to face stress with equanimity.
The logistics: 75-minute classes at Tranquil Space Yoga in Dupont Circle are offered seasonally; the next one is Sunday, March 15, 2015, at 4:30pm. $25/$20 if registered online. The studio has changing rooms, well-stocked with amenities from hair elastics to deodorants, and showers.