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Stress Less
In yoga Nidra, you can 'parachute' into a state of healing


August 2016

As the other yoga teacher trainees and I lie in savasana ó on our backs, eyes closed ó I listen to our instructor name parts of the body systematically in a soothing voice. As I hear the words, without effort I begin to drop into a deep state of relaxation.

Itís my first encounter with yoga nidra, and Iím hooked, especially when I emerge from my experience an hour later feeling more refreshed than when I wake up in the morning after several hours of sleep. In fact, while my teacher cautions that yoga nidra, sometimes called "yogic sleep," is not meant as a replacement for sleep, she says people suffering from sleep deprivation and insomnia have reported feeling more rested after the practice.

So what is it exactly? "(Itís) a combination of relaxation, affirmation, respiration and visualization techniques that work together (to integrate) body, mind and spirit," says Biz Casmer, a professional yoga therapist and yoga teacher. "In its purest form, yoga nidra has 10 stages, which take about 60 minutes to lead."

Typically, a yoga nidra session begins with you lying down, connecting with your breath and setting an intention, which can be as simple as "I want to feel more relaxed." Then a practitioner guides you through a "rotation of consciousness" in your body.

"(Itís) a moving awareness: be there, let it go, be there, let it go," explains Tina Romenesko, a professional yoga therapist and owner of Trillium Studio Milwaukee. "Eventually the body relaxes, the mind relaxes. And you didnít have to try to do it; you just were following instructions."

As you listen to the practitionerís voice, you move into a different state of consciousness, Romenesko says. "In nidra, you can drop below the waking state, past dreaming, to that deeper sleep state, almost like youíre parachuting through the body and the mind to get to this deeper state of conscious awareness," she says. "So someone dealing with a limiting belief or with sticky thoughts that are not allowing them to move forward, it lets them settle into a place where they can deal with it at a different level."

Chris Drosdick, an integrative practitioner, psychotherapist and art therapist at Lifespan Psychotherapy in Hartland, says yoga nidra is an effective tool. "I learned how to facilitate yoga nidra because there has been much research indicating benefits for anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia, ADHD, chronic pain, addiction and more," she says. "I have witnessed wonderful results. A person with multiple sclerosis whose tremors stopped after the session. A person with chronic pain who experienced decreased pain. A person with insomnia who was able to track via Fitbit better sleep."

While yoga nidra can help individuals dealing with trauma or serious health concerns, it also offers a way to manage stress and rejuvenate yourself.

"Given the pace of our culture, this tool can be incredibly beneficial in helping us to relax and reset our system," Casmer says. "Personally, nidra helped me recover from some sleep issues that I carried with me from childhood. I keep recordings of myself reading nidra scripts on my phone. When I am overworked or exhausted, I set aside time to experience the first level of nidra and help my body reset."

Casmer includes some of the stages of yoga nidra near the end of her group classes at Haleybird Studios in Wauwatosa and INVIVO, and other practitioners in the area lead groups in either full or partial yoga nidra experiences (see sidebar).

Romenesko has seen how a partial yoga nidra can be powerful. "I worked with middle schoolers, and they were a tough group," she says. "I tried doing yoga, doing breath, and nothing was working. So I laid them down and did a rotation of consciousness. And the toughest kid in the group, he goes, ĎWhoa! That was really cool, man.í And Iím like, ĎOK, I got it!í" m

Experience Yoga Nidra

Healium Hot Yoga

2475 S. Howell Ave.

Guided meditation with yoga nidra led by Meg Vetting,

Sept. 18, Oct. 30,

Nov. 20, Dec. 18


Lifespan Psychotherapy

510 Hartbrook Drive, Suite 204B, Hartland

Yoga nidra with Chris Drosdick, Aug. 6, 8,

20 and 22 (private sessions also available)


Kolibri Yoga

3065 N. 124th St.,

Suite 103, Brookfield

Guided meditation with yoga nidra led

by Julie Kamikawa,

Aug. 10 and 18


The Pink House Studio and Healing Arts Center

601 E. Wright St.

Yoga nidra led by Alison Von Brown, first Sunday of the month


Sunflower Yoga Therapy

Private sessions

with Biz Casmer



Trillium Studio Milwaukee

2723 N. Farwell Ave.

Private sessions with Tina Romenesko



3815 N. Brookfield Road, Suite 101, Brookfield

Yoga nidra led by Pamela Bliss, third Wednesday of the month beginning in September



This story ran in the August 2016 issue of: