“You’re swimming through the lake and suddenly, you come to the end of the waters. The lake turns into the womb and you are being pushed, pushed out through your mother and into the world! Feel the excitement as you’re born again! Everyone you love is around you, smiling joyfully as you enter the world. Your mother lifts you and places you to her breast, where you suckle deeply, drinking in the life. It’s invigorating.”
Um… what was that? I’m sucking my mum’s nipple?
I was on a journey, that’s for sure. A journey into what is the Yoga Nidra at the Yoga Barn in Bali. And it certainly was opening my eyes.
Yoga Nidra… not what we thought it was
Believing the Yoga Nidra class to be regular, exercise-type yoga, we had arrived prepared to get our sweat on.
But as we were instructed to warm up our bodies by slapping them all over, and then lie down on our yoga mats to go into a deep trance-like state, I realised quickly that we’d misunderstood. This wasn’t yoga, this was meditation.
But okay, I’m open to meditation, I’m not used to it, but I’m willing to give it a go.
Taking a nap during Yoga Nidra
As the sun set and the room became darker, we could hear birds chirping through the open windows. I tried to itch a mosquito bite on my leg subtly as Harmony* (not her real name) took us through the movement.
She told us to close our eyes. Even this simple task I struggled with, peering around to see if Dave had is eyes shut.
Finally, when I did manage to close my eyes, I found myself relaxing more and more to the smooth sounds of Harmony’s voice. She instructed us to relax all the tension in different parts of our body – from our fingers to our toes. I felt myself relaxing so much that before I knew it, I was asleep.
Falling asleep during meditation is a big no-no and Harmony had warned us about this before we’d began. A few minutes passed (?) and I woke, subtly glancing around me to see if anyone had noticed whether I’d drifted off. Nope, I seemed to be in the clear.
Harmony told us to imagine that we were walking through a desert. A bright beam of light was blasting out of the crown of our heads and we were feeling increasingly warm. We wanted water.
Then all of a sudden, lo-and-behold, a lake appears in front of us.
We drink from the water and it revives us.
Up into this point, I feel I’m getting into the meditation. Aside from the bright light beaming out of the top of my head, which I must admit was a little odd, I can imagine myself doing all of the above.
But then comes the clincher, and I completely lose all focus – she says we’re being pushed out of our mother’s vaginas.
Now, I’m not sure about you, but if there’s one way to make me feel the opposite of relaxed is to think about my mother’s vagina. Suddenly, I was wide awake, cringing inwardly while trying to keep my face calm. I wanted Harmony to think that I was well-viced in meditation and that imaging my birth was something I did most days.
Unfortunately I was lying down directly in front of Harmony, and as she sat cross-legged on the floor in front of me, I opened my eyes a smidgen to see whether she could tell I was faking it. Thankfully, she had her eyes closed, clearly in a trance of her own birth.
Meditation gets uncomfortable
Yoga Nidra moved on. Now we were flashing though our entire life’s story, growing up from a young baby and into an adult. Then we skipped a few decades and we were old, lying on our death bed with all our loved ones around us.
We take our last breath and our soul leaves us, flying high in the sky as an angel. As we zoom around in the air (Harmony probably used a more sensual word than ‘zoom’ but I can’t recall her script word-for-word – please forgive me) we look down on all those whom we love and find peace.
Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t feeling at peace. My back certainly wasn’t yoga-prepped enough to lay horizontally for so long, and being spread out on a thin yoga mat on top of a hard wooden flooring was making my body ache.
I tried to fidget subtly, shifting from side-to-side to find a more comfortable position. All relaxation promptly flew away from me with my spirit angel, and all I could think about was my aching back.
Harmony sings in key
I sensed we were coming to the end of the meditation, at least my back was feeling hopeful that I would put it out of its torture shortly.
Suddenly, Harmony started chanting. Her voice rose from your standard yoga “Ommmm” and into full Sanskrit speak (the ancient Indic language), chanting high and then low. I willed myself to get pulled into the sounds of her voice, but my mind was full of annoying chatter.
“How long does it take her to learn that language? What is she even saying? Doesn’t she get nervous about singing in front of so many people? Ooooh I’m not sure she quite hit that note!” my inner voice wondered.
Far from flying away
Flush-faced, I finished the class on a final Namaste, bowed to Harmony, hands in prayer as they touched the floor. Dave and I rolled up our yoga mats and headed to the restaurant where we were meeting friends for dinner.
“How’d you find that?” I asked him.
“Yeah, it was really good!”
“Ummm, actually it was kind of weird,” Dave admitted. “She lost me at the birthing part.”
Thank goodness. I wasn’t the only one who was freaking out about suckling my mother’s breast.
“I think we’ve earned a cocktail,” I smiled.
Wanting to meditate
I really do want to get into meditation, I swear.
I am certainly open to it. Once my mum told me that she went into such a deep meditation that she was able to fly out of her own body.
I’d love to know what that feels like. But perhaps I need to be thrown into the meditation pool’s shallow end first.
Have you ever done Yoga Nidra? What did you think?
What you need to know:
When to go: You can check the Yoga Barn’s schedule here.
How to get there: The Yoga Barn is one of the most popular places to do yoga in Ubud, Bali. It’s located at Jalan Raya Pengosekan Ubud, Ubud, Bali 80571.
How much: A one-off class costs R120k (AUS$12). We bought a 20 pass card, making the classes just AUS$6 a go.