by Dana Rapisardi
[On] Friday evening,  I had my first yoga nidra experience. “Yoga nidra” means “yoga sleep,” and is also described as “conscious sleeping.” The first time someone … mentioned this to me she in fact said it was “like sleeping while you’re awake.” This was … at a place called Madmat Yoga, whose owner and director is Madelena Ferrara-Mattheis. Walking in with [friends], we encountered more soul family members already there… Interestingly, Maddi commented on the energy she felt in the room, noting it was unusually intense.—I’m going to boldly presume that was the energy of the love-fest amongst us … in the room! 

We lay on blankets or mats on the floor, with pillows for our heads and even eye pillows if we wanted them. I am usually not comfortable lying flat on the floor but this was not uncomfortable. It’s called “yoga” but there are no postures—it is more like meditation, guided meditation with visualization. With everyone settled Maddi began a conversationally-paced induction, telling us what was going to happen and carefully drawing our focus inwards. I noticed she phrased everything as if it were an affirmation, including the overt affirmation, “I will not sleep,” which would prove an important one!

Maddi’s induction was incredibly relaxing. I believe this is what is meant by the “sleep.” You are so relaxed it is as restful and rejuvenating as sleep even if you remain conscious and awake—which I did. (However, for those who didn’t, remember that the Dalai Lama himself says that sleep is the best meditation!) Part of the relaxation was a remarkable inventory of the body, a conscious acknowledgement of our exteriors, limbs, joints, the parts of us that retain tension. I felt myself becoming loose and heavy, surrendering to gravity. At the deepest point came the visualization of our spines, seen as isolated, a single object on the astral plane, a rod with rings around it. From there Maddi vividly invoked each of the seven Kundalini chakras up through spine, calling them up as lotuses. She called the chakras by their Sanskrit names and used a different color system than the one I’m familiar with though this did not matter in the least. This visualization was so powerful! The first lotus was the four-petal dark red lotus at the root. It was photographically clear to me.

Maddi told us to notice the dewdrops on the petals and said, “when you shake the petals the dew drops shatter.” Shatter does not quite describe what I saw in my mind’s eye: the dewdrops silently exploded in intensely radiant star-bursts and the energy somehow jolted me without physically moving me. Then Maddi  said “shake the petals again” and the dew re-coalesced! It was astounding!

We moved up the spine drawing up each lotus, dwelling on each momentarily, to the thousand-petal crown lotus that radiates celestial brilliance. By now I was a little “gone,” not asleep but no longer able to attentively record details. It seemed we went back down the spine again, then returned to the crown. This must have been an opening and alignment with our chakras because at this point came the moment to form our intention, and Maddi used  the Sanskrit for that word too, tho I don’t remember it. I’d had no idea I was going to make the intention that I did, which I feel was called up from deep within me and for which reason I’m keeping to myself instead of sharing here. After that Maddi slowly brought us back from the meditative dimensions, to our bodies, to the room, etc.

It had taken about 45 min. but felt like maybe ten. We all sat up on the floor in the dimness for a while, sharing whatever we felt comfortable sharing. Everyone seemed deeply relaxed yet energized. After getting to our feet again the … hug-fest [started] again. So, we’re all yoga nidra fans now and a group of us are likely to make it a regular thing. I definitely recommend it.