I first came across Yoga Nidra in one of Natasha Kerry’s Yang & Yin classes at Good Vibes in Covent Garden a few years ago. The first half of the class was Yang, a strong and sweaty Vinyasa flow followed by Yin Yoga; restorative poses which in my opinion feels so much more rewarding after doing a tough work out just before. The Yin Yoga ended with Yoga Nidra, in which Natasha asked us to lay in Shavasana and rotate our awareness around the body.
I loved the class and the Yoga Nidra so much that I started going to Natasha’s classes in other studios too, as well as attending her workshops.
Natasha, like me you also had a career in the corporate world but decided to resign and embark on a different path, can you share your story?
I went to Warwick University as it was top for my chosen course and was academic at the same time as appealing to my creative side. At the end of University, I felt confused about my direction. I thought I had always wanted to go into theatre and the arts but upon moving to London, I fell into the corporate world. I was attracted to the lifestyle and all my friends were working through the week so I wanted to fit in.
Whilst working in the city, I longed for a more creative career but was unsure about which path to take. The “work hard, play hard” lifestyle looked exciting at first but I soon realised that it just wasn’t me and I felt unhealthy, unhappy and unfulfilled after just a few years.
My mother, a homeopath and Yogi, had introduced me to Yoga when I was a child, and she suggested that I find a local Yoga class to de-stress and unwind at the weekends.
Upon trying a local class, I immediately fell in love with Vinyasa Yoga; a challenging and rigorous practice of Yoga.
When the recession hit, it seemed like the perfect excuse to go travelling.
Travel had always been a big part of my life and somewhere that my parents had raved about! I knew I had to go to India and explore Yoga in the country of its origin so I quit my job and went to India.
In India, I signed up to do a Teacher Training and just knew that I had found something that made me happy. My guru’s lectures on “Yoga” touched my soul and made complete sense, they reassured me in the deepest way.
Yoga offered a new way of viewing life, the world and my reality. My whole perspective shifted! I felt such a release, like my true identity had been uncovered and any fear I had felt of embracing who I really was seemed to diminish. I no longer had the fear of not “fitting in” and with that came the strength to listen to my heart and where it was telling me to go in life… and then go do it!
Once this shift happened inside me, I just knew I wanted to share this gift with others!
Once I arrived back in London, I did further Yoga teacher training courses here in the UK and then became a full time Yoga Teacher.
Yoga nidra translates into ‘yogi sleep’ but it’s actually the deepest state of relaxation whilst maintaining full consciousness, can you explain?
Yoga Nidra is sleep with awareness. In the practice of Yoga Nidra, the student listens to my voice as I talk them through different mind exercises. These exercises are so effective at inducing a state of deep relaxation that the student’s brain waves slow down from Beta (fast) to Alpha (relaxation) and then into Theta (subconscious) wave states.
As the body falls asleep, the mind moves into and out of awareness and the transition between the 2nd and 3rd brain waves states is the most healing for the body. Often we move from fast brain waves (Beta) straight into Delta (fast asleep) so the practice of Yoga Nidra keeps the student in a state of Hypnagogia (waking sleep) for longer periods.
After the last workshop I attended, apart from being completely relaxed, I also felt very energized the next day. Yoga nidra is said to be 4 times more restorative than regular sleep, that almost sounds too good to be true!
Haha! Yes it really does! But it’s true… of course I wouldn’t recommend missing out on your 8-10 hours of sleep a night to do Yoga Nidra instead. But if you feel lethargic at any point in the day, instead of taking a nap, practice Yoga Nidra instead. This will leave you feeling more calm, refreshed and energized than a nap. Due to the fact that we usually pass through hypnogogia so very quickly when we go to sleep at night, to make your night’s sleep more effective and nourishing, practice Yoga Nidra before you fall asleep too. I do this every night. I set my intention and enter my night’s sleep purposefully and in a fully relaxed state.
What can someone who is new to your workshops expect?
My two hour workshops are designed to be a deep relaxation session. They are two hours of blissfully relaxing Pranayama (breathing) techniques and Yoga postures to unravel tension in the hips and hamstrings. I then take the group through a full Yoga Nidra relaxation with visualisations from my Yoga Sleep Method. If you live abroad or cannot get to my live workshops then I have a popular Yoga Nidra audio download called The Yoga Sleep Method that is available on my website. I also run one-day retreats with The Raw Chef and the day ends with a full Yoga Nidra relaxation.
I see a lot of people in London being stressed out, what do you recommend to do at home to de-stress?
I recommend lying down with both legs up a wall! It’s amazing for switching the nervous system into the parasympathetic “Rest and Digest” aspect of the nervous system.
Just 10 minutes of Yoga Nidra is all you need to feel a change in your nervous system, so I recommend listening to my 10 minute Yoga Nidra audio relaxation. It’s available to download for free from on my webpage.
Do you see any trends or tendencies in yoga industry?
Hot Yoga and Yoga in Infrared Heat is a growing trend at the moment and I teach Hatha and Vinyasa classes in infrared heat too.
Details of my classes are here.
It’s great to try if you have yet to experience the sweat and challenge. Most people want to feel their bodies work hard and be challenged at the same time as “taking care” of their selves. I think all styles of Yoga are worthy of acclaim and take great pleasure in teaching a range of different styles and students. I do firmly believe however that it is important to find balance in your Yoga practice and switch it up. I think it’s important to do a mixture of Yang and Yin styles of Yoga and to listen intently to what your body is telling you to do. If it’s telling you to rest then it’s so important to honour that. In resting, the body grows even stronger, so it’s vital for creating strength in Yoga and in life.
More and more guys are getting into Yoga now which is really great to see. Everyone can benefit from Yoga and my aim is to make deep relaxation available to all through raising awareness of the incredible practice of Yoga Nidra and other more restorative styles of Yoga.