On Saturday May 6th Nick Atlas Ph.D. will be leading a Yoga Nidra Immersion workshop. I sat down with Dr. Atlas in order to prepare us for this powerful class.
1-How did you become an expert in Yoga Nidra?
A whole lot of practice! I started experimenting with Yoga Nidra over fifteen years ago, have trained with several masters, and have tried to incorporate at least 20-40 minutes a day ever since. Sometimes I practice in the middle of the night, too. The word “expert” is pretty subjective—it’s up to everyone else to decide that and I still have an endless amount of learning to do. However, I spent my doctoral research exploring lucid dreaming (which is a close relative) and how we heal through the deepest possible states of Yoga Nidra (i.e., Samadhi), so I’m fortunate to know a little bit about it both theoretically and experientially. And, after many years of teaching, I feel I’ve developed a knack for helping others go deep. Plus, I love it!
2-How would you describe Nidra to a beginner?
To a beginner, I’d say it’s ‘guided relaxation’—an opportunity to lay down and rest your bones. You don’t need to have any experience and there’s no right or wrong way to practice. All you have to do is listen (or not listen) to my voice—your body’s intuitive, healing intelligence will take over from there. My role is simply to help create a safe space so you can relax and get in touch with the deepest parts of yourself. Of course, once you get the hang of it, there are all sorts of things you can learn to do and Yoga Nidra can even become the meditative foundation for your whole life.
3-Do people have to be well versed in Yoga to take your workshop?
No—you don’t have to know anything about Yoga, and this has very little to do with yoga asana (postures), though we will do some gentle movement together. And, if you’re a yoga teacher and/or are already well-versed in Yoga, this will likely expand upon your foundation and be a great adjunct to your practice.
4-What would you say to someone who is worried about sitting still for long? The type A, ADD, hyper personality?
That depends on the person and where they’re at (and people are welcome to message me if they have questions). We’re going to mix things up quite a bit, so you won’t have to worry about being in one position for too long (which isn’t good for anybody). Most people lay down during the practice and, ultimately, learning to be with uncomfortable feelings is what it’s all about (when I was younger, I couldn’t sit still at all!). In other words, remaining still while your nervous system is going bonkers is the way to begin to address some of that tension, anxiety, pain, etc., rather than moving through life at hyper speed, constantly needing to burn it off with exercise, muting it with food or substances, losing sleep, etc.
5-What is the most common misconception of Nidra?
Probably that it’s only guided relaxation. As I mentioned above, guided relaxation is certainly a crucial component of Yoga Nidra, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. In my opinion, Yoga Nidra is the meditative heart of yoga—it embodies the entire breadth of yoga philosophy, and can be profoundly healing and transformational.
6-What would you say is the one takeaway piece from your workshops?
I can put it into words, but it will only paint half the picture. The real takeaway is the feeling it gives you inside—it’s an opportunity to allow ourselves to let go of striving and open to the beauty and inspiration inherent within and all around us. It may come easily for some and may be more challenging for others. But, I think there’s something here for everyone and I certainly do everything I can to help make it an enjoyable and enlightening experience.
Nick Atlas, Ph.D., E-RYT 500 is a light-hearted, grounded and accessible instructor specializing in integrative approaches to sleep, dreams, lucid dreaming, relaxation and stress reduction. The Director of Evolutionary Education® and 200hr Yoga Psychology Teacher Trainings, Nick also teaches psychology at Atlantic University and the University of West Georgia. As a transformative educator, he conducts pioneering research on dreaming so as to inspire his students and clients to realize their maximum potential. He has been practicing and teaching various forms of yoga, qigong and meditation since 1998.
Written by Kristen Carla Blogger/Acupuncture Physician www.facebook.com/kristencarla
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