Sleeping Through the Yoga Nidra ‘Oowwmm’

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

One of the advantages to being a writer is that whenever something funny happens, or whenever you do something new for the first time, you get the urge to write about it. You start to observe details more carefully, you ask for people’s names and you think about colorful moments that will add to your story. This is what I did tonight when attending a yoga meditation class.

I had a free pass to the class, so I figured I would try something new. I was expecting to walk into a workout room with a bunch of young people my age. I was expecting to contort my body and sit in the lotus position, just about the only Yoga position I know. Instead, I walked into a dimly lit gym, with an older woman sitting in the back of the room, surrounded by candles and a table with a tie-die tablecloth.

“Welcome,” she said. “Where are you from?” It was as though I was entering a foreign city. She followed her question with a warm smile, reassuring me that she was eager to have a new student. She said my body temperature would drop during the meditative process and that I should get a robe for myself down the hall. “Do I have to strip and change into a robe? I’ll be fine without one,” I thought. But I got one and put it over my clothes. When in yoga studios, do as the yogans do. I got out a mat, two towels and two pillows — one for my head and one for my feet.

There were two other women there — Diana and Antigone, both of whom were probably in their late 50s. Diana shared her story with me, saying that stress had plagued her life and that she needed relief. She found what she was looking for, she said, in Yoga Nidra, or yoga sleep. As we began our meditation, Anne read an introduction to Yoga Nidra, explaining that we were soon to enter a conscious state of deep sleep. I was a little weirded out when she started saying words like “trance” and “hypnosis,” and phrases such as “You are immortal.”

“Oooooooooooowwwwwwwmmmmmmmmmmm” Anne said, her hands outstretched before her. “Oooooooooooowwwwwwwmmmmmmmmmmm”

Is she saying “Home?” Is she trying to sound like a werewolf? I wanted to laugh, which I’m often guilty of doing during inappropriate moments. But I kept my cool. I sat and focused on relaxing, my back lying on the mat, my palms facing upward. Anne instructed us not to fall asleep. She said we would be conscious but that our bodies would be in a state of complete rest. She told us to relax our “whole bodies,” from our earlobes to our big toes.

I wish I could tell you what she said next. I broke the rules. My own snore, errr I mean deep breathing, woke me up. I’m not sure what Anne thought about me falling asleep, but when she gave us the cue to crawl into a fetal position and then sit up, she, Diana and Antigone greeted me with a warm smile. “Hope you enjoyed it,” Anne said. “Sleep well tonight.”