So I have this pal Julie Murphy from South Africa who used to be a corporate big wig but is now this great yoga teacher who runs around India for fun and is always talking about things like “alignment” as opposed to shoe sales. For some reason she still likes to hang out with me now and then despite the fact that I long ago replaced my downward dog with a sideways slug-on-the-couch variation. So here we are walking the other day and she tells me about this new practice she has launched called Yoga Nidra which Wikipedia likes to call “yogic sleep”—an hour of lying down on a yoga mat listening to woo-woo music and Julie telling you how to be happy.
Sign me up, I said, wanting to be supportive, and there I was last Sunday, my yoga mat neatly rolled out, looking at a sea of other people hunkering down for a state of consciousness described somewhere between waking and sleeping which is pretty much how I operate anyway.
At first I was sort of alarmed; the prospect of drifting around in a semi-conscious state with a bunch of strangers seemed a little too intimate, somehow—we were packed in like chubby sardines in the long dimly lit room, all ages and body types, everyone waiting for Julie to start the drill.
Basically, the drill was a little light stretching, then reclining in a comfy position and listening to Julie and her South African accent guide you into a state of deep relaxation, layered with a virtual down comforter of positive affirmation. At first it reminded me of being in one of those MRI machines when they tell you not to move and all you want to do is move. Or what it feels like to try to focus on a meditation and begin dreaming up your dinner menu instead. (Which I did). Then I started noticing little snores from around the room, emitted by the bad kids of yoga, the ones in the back row who had dared to fall asleep instead of hovering in that place known as light pratyahara, which is Indian for drooling.
I played along, imagining my fingers relaxing, my heart place expanding, relaxing the soles of my feet. There was music and those teensy bells and I came up with a happy thing to tell myself, and I saw the golden light wrapping around all the things I liked best—Judy and Billy, my sister Missy, the meatball sub at V&S Deli.
And then it was over. Like that.
As we were very (very) slowly starting to sit up, I asked Julie how long we had been in Yoga Nidra—was it really just five minutes?
“It was 40 minutes,” she said, as my mouth dropped open.
I had been gone longer than I thought. Like Jody Foster in “Contact,” or Rip Van Winkle. And I felt really, really good. And calm. That night I slept like a five year old.
So. That’s it. I think I may have found my new Happy Hour. Julie Murphy only does this the first Sunday of every month but I think I am reserving my spot now.
To sign up for Julie’s Yoga Nidra class, visit SimplyYogaDelray.com for the schedule. She has produced a CD of her class, which can be downloaded at cdbaby.com/m/cd/julieyogaressa.
You are welcome.