Jennifer Reis

Jennifer Reis, E-RYT 500, is a Kripalu School of Yoga faculty member and the creator of Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra and Five Element Yoga. Here she answers questions about the benefits of yoga nidra, and why it’s great for wintertime.

Q What is yoga nidra?
Yoga nidra combines a body scan with breath awareness, and adds a visual and sense component. It’s often called yogic sleep, because it induces states of mind that are between being asleep and being awake, resulting in deep relaxation and rejuvenation. Most of the elements and principles of yoga nidra originally come from traditional teachings on yoga, breath awareness, and the koshas, and many teachers have created their own approach to the practice. My approach to yoga nidra is informed by my training in Kripalu Yoga, Integrative Yoga Therapy, Ayurveda, shiatsu, and massage. From my Kripalu training, in particular, I bring a focus on witness consciousness, intuition, and creativity.

Q What are the physiological effects of yoga nidra?
When you consciously relax, you’re switching off the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze) and switching on the healing qualities of the parasympathetic nervous system. We spend most of our time in active (sympathetic) mode, and not enough in relaxation mode, which can lead to chronic conditions like insomnia, allergies, asthma, and digestive issues. For me, yoga nidra has been the easiest, least expensive, least timeconsuming, and most enjoyable way to shift my nervous system into healing mode. It works better than anything else I’ve practiced.

Q What benefits does yoga nidra offer during the winter in particular?
Yoga nidra is a step-by-step way to induce pratyahara—withdrawal of the senses, going inward. As in nature, where everything goes beneath the ground and prepares to emerge in the spring, we, too, become fortified and revitalized when we go within. It’s an amazing practice to do in winter because it’s so deeply restorative and renewing. It’s just natural to rest more when it’s darker and cooler, and, because yoga nidra strengthens the immune system, it’s great for helping ward off the flus and bugs going around in the cold season. I find, for myself, yoga nidra helps me feel integrated, bringing together and nurturing all the parts of myself. It works best when practiced daily, and it doesn’t have to be for long; 20 minutes of yoga nidra are said to equate to three hours of sleep.

Q How can yoga teachers and healing professionals use yoga nidra to enhance their classes?
Everybody loves to relax, and everybody needs to learn how to relax through all levels of their being, because it often does not come naturally. It’s a wonderful practice to lead during Savasana and a great bonus to offer during longer workshops and retreats. Students will come to teachers forever if they guide yoga nidra!

Comments are closed.