Yoga is not just about holding different poses. In fact, some types of yoga, such as Nidra yoga, do not include any movement at all. Hatha yoga, on the other hand, revolves around the movement and the holding of different physical postures, or asanas.
The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj” meaning “to join” or “union.” By developing a connection between mind, body and spirit, the practitioner of yoga starts to develop an awareness that everything is connected. This helps to improve physical and mental health, making use of the subtle energies in the body to reach a state of liberation.
As with other types of yoga, what Nidra and Hatha yoga have in common is this focus on the mind, body and spirit, with the aim of reaching higher states of awareness. Yoga is a form of meditation that can be used to detoxify the body, whether there is physical movement or not. Just because you don’t move during a yoga Nidra class, doesn’t mean the body is not involved.
What is yoga nidra?
Yoga nidra has come to be known as ‘sleep yoga.’ During a nidra class, participants lie on their backs and don’t engage in any kind of movement. The yoga instructor guides the class through a body scan and visualisation exercise, which brings about a state of deep relaxation. The aim is to maintain full awareness of the body, in a sort of dynamic sleep state.
Yoga Nidra includes a sensory withdrawal with closed eyes and often takes place in a dark, quiet room. Those new to nidra generally start with a 15 to 20 minute session, working their way up to 30 or 40 minutes. One hour of yoga nidra is thought to equate to about four hours of sleep.
Who can benefit from yoga nidra?
This style of yoga helps to reduce tension, stress and anxiety. It is used to combat the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as providing relief from headaches, pain and dizziness. Anyone wishing to achieve a deeper level of conscious awareness can benefit from a yoga Nidra class and its profound transformative effects. Nidra can improve the quality of sleep, while also helping to boost energy levels.
It offers a wonderful opportunity to connect with the body and is suitable for any fitness level, including those with limited mobility. It is highly beneficial to do yoga Nidra during pregnancy to connect with the unborn child. When pregnant, it is important to find a comfortable position that is safe for that stage of pregnancy. After 16 weeks the best position is to lie on the left-hand side, putting a bolster or pillow under one leg.
What can I expect from a hatha yoga class?
During a hatha yoga class, the instructor guides the class through a series of physical poses (asanas) while also focusing on breathing (pranayama). By controlling the body and the breath, you are able to build up mental focus, strength and flexibility.
A hatha yoga class often lasts between 45 and 90 minutes. No special equipment is needed apart from a yoga mat, but it may help to have a strap or yoga block at hand for those who are new or not very flexible. These classes generally begin with some gentle stretches to warm up the body and prepare the mind. The last pose in the class is the corpse pose (shavasana), which is similar to the position held during a yoga nidra class – on the back with eyes closed.
Who can do a hatha yoga class?
Hatha yoga is ideal for beginners. During these classes, basic poses are introduced and generally held for longer than in other types of yoga class (e.g. Power yoga or Vinyasa yoga). Hatha yoga is not very fast-paced or athletic, so it serves as a great introduction to the different poses. Beginners should begin with basic ananas before moving onto more advanced positions and sequences.
As with any type of yoga, it is important to take care if you have any injuries or pre-existing conditions. By letting your teacher know, they can offer variations on poses that will protect your body from further pain or injury. It’s important to take care during pregnancy, because certain postures should be avoided, particularly those where you lie on your back or stomach. For serious health conditions, it is always advisable to consult a doctor before starting a yoga practice.
What are the benefits of yoga nidra and hatha yoga? Regardless of the yoga style, there are more similarities than differences between them. Yoga is an ancient practice that promotes a healthy balance between the mind and body. Widely-known for its numerous benefits, scientific studies into the effects of yoga show how this holistic practice can boost physical and mental well-being. Researchers at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health found that yoga is beneficial for many health conditions, including the relief of back and neck pain, symptoms associated with menopause, as well as helping with addictions and weight loss. Studies have also shown that yoga can have a dramatic effect on mental health by improving self-control, compassion, empathy and a sense of calmness. At Vala House, we offer yoga nidra directly after our hatha yoga classes so that you can enjoy a deep state of relaxation. With a regular practice, the therapeutic effects of yoga result in an improved quality of life. With the many benefits for your mental and physical health, both nidra and hatha yoga will help you to reduce your stress levels and improve your sleep. Vala House offers regular classes throughout the week and also weekend and week-long retreats, where you can immerse yourself into your yoga practice. We are excited to welcome you to practice yoga with us! To book a spot at one of our yoga classes or retreats, please contact us today. ___ Vala House is a creative wellness centre on the northern outskirts of Knysna. It is the ideal venue for a relaxing getaway filled with yoga and a variety of creative and healing activities. We offer yoga sessions three times per day, or yoga retreats for a weekend, one week or two weeks at a time. For more insights into the practice of yoga or information about Vala House, take a look at our blog section. Follow us on Facebook to stay connected with our latest news and offerings.