Hello! And welcome to Expanding the Modalities of the Healing Arts Professions.  My name is Dr Kathy…the FUN™ therapist, a secret keeper, talk therapist, and feelings doctor. Tonight, I am going to teach you an advanced mindfulness practice…called YogaFun™ Nidra…which I believe in my experience and research as a psycho therapist and yoga therapist is the gold star for stress reduction, self-care, and transformational awakening. The profound state of relaxation that happens in YogaFun™ Nidra, while remaining awake is going to make you and your clients feel vibrantly healthy, calm, and radiantly beautiful.

Are there any newcomers to this practice tonight? Any therapists? Yoga teachers?  Life Coaches or Recovery Coaches?  One of the most important mindfulness tools we can use daily is relaxation.  In yoga, there are many such tools, while yoga is commonly thought of as a practice involving a series of standing poses, such as headstands, stretching out in contorted positions on a mat, chanting in Sanskrit (the language of yoga), today you are here to experience YogaFun™ Nidra which is different from Savasana…the relaxation practice that is done for a few minutes, or as a guided meditation at the end of a yoga class.

YogaFun™ Nidra was designed as a guided relaxation, done usually in a reclined position for the yoga student who finds it difficult to sit still, focus, refrain from negative thinking, abuse drugs or alcohol, make a decision, struggle with anxiety, control anger, help with habitual thought patterns (OCD), trouble sleeping, or just feeling stressed out. Can anyone relate?   Or do you have clients like this? To recline is divine power lying down and relaxing…take a breath…

This practice invites us to fall into what is referred to as waking sleep.  To access the brain wave states (put pressure on the neural networks) where we can hack blocking beliefs, release charged emotions, and challenge the stories and beliefs that you may be telling yourself that are doubting your greatness.

The practice of yoga nidra is not only the experience about being present in the body and mind, but also allowing yourself to just relax, and lie still on the floor fully awake, no movement required. In other words do nothing! Research on YogaFun™ Nidra claims this 45 minute profound state of relaxation while remaining awake and alert throughout, is the equivalent of three hours of sleep!  And while this is a practice where you will not fall asleep, you might however, have the experience of falling awake…

While talk therapy is beneficial, sometimes there are no words to describe what is going on inside.  During yoga nidra, talk is not necessary!  All you or your clients have to do is show up, lie down and let the brain let you know what is ready to be addressed or released.  Even Freud knew this himself (a closet recliner) as he introduced the couch to the psychotherapy sessions…just show up lay down, and say what is on your mind…

YogaFun™ Nidra is a therapy practice that was formed as a means to guide the practitioner from the 3 energy states in which the body exists (awake, dream, deep sleep) into what is called turiya-awareness of existence beyond the body.

Use fist to demo what happens in the brain….(Like other brain therapies, Nidra allow access different brain spots…

According to the Academy of Aging medicine, prolonged hypercortisolism (from sympathetic dominance) leads to degeneration of the hippocampus and hypothalamus, so the new theory is that the body shuts down to protect the brain rather than maintaining an elevated cortisol level, therefore turning down the HPA-axis, which then leads to the development of disease from chronic stress.

These can include, mood disorders, addictive behaviors, problems controlling anger, domestic violence, codependency and stress related illnesses like auto immune diseases, asthma, Cancer, and heart disease.

So what is YogaFun™ Nidra and where did it come from?

YogaFun™ Nidra came from ancient Eastern teachings of Yoga in Inida and was first noted in the yoga text called the Upanishads, which is about Self-Realization, and is estimated to have been written about 700 BCE which is almost 1000 years before the birth of Jesus!  YogaFun™ Nidra was first born as a meditation practice around 400-600 CE making over 1000 years old.

Freud, an Austrian neurologist, psychoanalyst considered “the father of psychiatry” was an unconscious recliner.  It is estimated around 1890, a grateful “cured” female patient supposedly gifted Freud a Victorian day-bed, and then couch was introduced to the psychotherapy session.  Freud brought the famed couch with him when he came to the United States in 1909.  In 1891 Annie Payson wrote the book The Power Through Repose and described the state of Nidra as a state of pure awareness, as she was concerned with the fast pace of modern life.

Other leaders most notably Swami Sivananda and his various disciples such as Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School in Bihar India in the 1950’s and in 1974 wrote the first text called the Blue YogaFun™ Nidra Book. In 1970 Swami Rama came to the USA and formed The Himalyan Institute in Pennsylvania (Pandit Rajamani, Ph.D, is now the spiritual head of this center from India).  Swami Kripalu moved to the United States inspiring many people to take up yoga in 1977. His disciple Amrit Desai, left the guru free ashram to create Amrit Yoga in Florida.  Others more recently who have made it more known here in the West include Richard Miller, Ph.D. who also in 1970 created I-Rest which integrated the psychology from the treatment for PTSD.  In 1975 Dr. Herbert Benson created and wrote the book The Relaxation Response at Harvard after studying the meditation practices of Tibetan monks in the Himalayas. In 1977 Rod Stryker wrote the book The Four Desires and took up residency at HI and created his version of Nidra practices.  Jon Kabat-Zin launched the famed Mindfulness – Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR), in 1979  Massachusetts at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center where his work has been studied for three decades.

The mindful reclining ladies of yoga nidra, include Anne Payson (1853-1940) who advocated the power of the recline given the pace of modern life, Shakti Gawain, who in 1978 published her landmark book Creative Visualization. In 2004 Amy Weintraub published the book Yoga for Depression, and also founded and created The LifeForce Yoga training institute, and CD’s for mental health professionals to bring Nidra and other yoga techniques into the therapy session. I graduated from her center as a Life Force Yoga Practitioner.  Other leading women of Nidra include Julie Lusk, from the Kripalu Yoga Center, author of several books and CD’s guiding YogaFun™ Nidra since 2000. In 2008 Indu Arora, from India established the Yoga Sadhana Community in the USA and teachings in YogaFun™ Nidra.  Jennifer Reis, from the Kripalu Center it the creator of Divine Sleep® YogaFun™ Nidra in 2009, in 2010 Uma Dinsmar Tuli, in the United Kingdom and Ireland created the International YogaFun™ Nidra Network, and Indu Arora from India.  Dr. Kamini Desai published her book I Am YogaFun™ Nidra in 2018 and is based on the teachings of her father Amrit Desai, who founded the Kripalu Center in Massachusetts in 1983, and now Amrit Center here in Florida.

I was trained by many of these teachers while on my own journey to heal back pain, trauma, complete my yoga therapy teacher training (in the USA and Mysore, India), and detox from chemo after my Cancer Treatments (in Mumbai, India). I am bringing you tonight my integration of many teachers and training incorporating EMDR, Brainspotting, talk therapy, mental imagery, and yoga.

For resources/readings about them please talk to me or email me after the class.

The yoga nidra experience can be enhanced by creating an intention or focus for the practice, including muscle tension and relaxation, breathing exercises, and systematic instructions that guide you imaginally around the body into gradually deeper brain wave states.  Mental imagery may be used to identify, release, and transform beliefs, feelings and emotions, during the practice, and landing in the experience of silence.  Then you, the practitioner, are gradually brought back to normal wakefulness…all in 40-45 minutes, no movement required.  According to clinical research, just 10 minutes of daily yoga or some type of mindful practice increases stress resilience, reduces anxiety, and teaches us and our clients how to refrain from engaging in the fight/flight/freeze response when triggered.

To help you prepare, please make sure bracelets, watches, anything that can block your energy is removed.  Also please put all cell phones in the off position, or silence them (if you are using them for Zoom), and make sure they are not or near you as the buzzing can distract you.

If you think you may need any props such as a yoga mat (you can also sit in a chair) an eye cover, blanket, or pillow to place behind the knees when you lay down please take care of this now, and lay the props next to you as I will be giving more instructions and some background before we begin.

If you are on zoom please make sure your space is secure, shut the door and make sure you will not be interrupted (by kids, family, pets, and other beings) for about 40 minutes.  Additionally, please have a piece of paper and pen nearby so you can write down at the end of the class anything you wish to remember.  This is for your use only. Go ahead and arrange for these now…while I keep talking…For more information about resources and the science about yoga nidra and these practices, please ask me later….

Any time we are upset, or in pain, we create a state of “dis-ease”.  This is what leads to the experience of feeling separate, alone, and wanting to numb out.  Are you ready to hack the blocking beliefs that are doubting your greatness so you can have FUN™,  and occupy inner peace?  What are you waiting for?  Imagine what you can do!

Please give yourselves a hand for attending and making time for this class tonight, to take care of you, and to experience being present.  Go ahead! Give yourselves a hand and each other a high five… Now please turn off the zoom video if you do not want to be seen, and silence the audio on Zoom so you cannot be heard—such as snoring, in case you fall asleep.

And a final quote:  It is no measure of health to be well adjusted in a profoundly sick society-  Krishna Murti

May we all be happy, healthy, safe, sane and have FUN!

Let’s practice!