Yogi Spotlight: Mona Anand

Mona grew up in Mumbai India where she was first introduced to Yoga. She is a lead trainer in Ishta’s 200 and 300 hour teacher training. She has developed and teaches her own yoga nidra training and has also developed and co-leads a restorative training which she teachers around the world.

Mona has combined yoga nidra and restorative yoga to create her signature restorative/yoga nidra workshop series to balance the chakras and doshas.

She currently has a yoga nidra recording for deep relaxation or sleep available on iTunes. Mona was initiated into the Ishta lineage as a Yogiraj or Yoga Master by her teacher Alan Finger and currently teaches group classes at Ishta Yoga and Yoga Works in New York City.

She has a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and lives in NYC with her husband and two daughters.

Your Personal or Professional Goals:

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Yoga nidra has been a meditation technique that I’ve been passionate about since I was first introduced to it in school in Mumbai.

As a teacher, I’ve spent the last ten years customizing yoga nidras for different energetic imbalances. I’ve designed restorative /yoga nidra workshops for each of the chakras where the premeditative asanas, the restorative poses, and all of the steps of yoga nidra are customized to balance a specific chakra.

My students  have found that through these workshops they develop a much better understanding of the subtle body and came away feeling much more balanced energetically.

I’m currently writing a book with my teacher, Alan Finger, on yoga nidra and the chakras.  I’ve also developed yoga nidras for specific doshic imbalances.

A couple of years ago I put out a yoga nidra recording for deep relaxation or sleep that I designed with Alan Finger. It’s  been so exciting because it has validated my belief in how powerful this technique can be in changing people’s lives – especially since it is accessible to people who have never been interested  or able to take a yoga class, since all it requires is switching on a recording and lying in bed.

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Aside from the more obvious benefits of falling asleep more easily or deeply relaxing, some of the feedback I’ve gotten is that it has helped with pain management. Many also use it in the morning to rejuvenate themselves when they haven’t slept enough. What makes me want to keep teaching and developing more specific yoga nidras is hearing how much this technique has helped people.

In class, I see people come in stressed and restless and after practicing yoga nidra they float out of the room completely changed. This inspires me to find as many ways to spread this technique whether it is through training teachers to teach it or putting out recordings to reach more people.

My long term goals are to take yoga nidra into hospitals. Patients could really benefit from a technique that induces deep relaxation and helps with pain management. Visualizations used in yoga nidra are especially useful in healing patients relationships with their bodies plus it induces an expanded state of consciousness.

Why Became an Instructor:

I have practiced yoga as a child and in school growing up in India.  I became fully re-enaged in my early thirties when I had a serious bout of asthma attacks.  As a child I suffered from asthma and went to a specialist for breathing exercises in Mumbai.

I would go to school late a couple of mornings a week and  the techniques I learned have come inhandy all my life. Growing up, my mom also encouraged me to swim to build my lung power and I became a national swimmer in India. With all this early natural intervention I didn’t need to take  much medication for my asthma nor did I take it too seriously.

Then in my early 30’s I had a very serious bout of asthma attacks that landed me on very high doses of cortisone. The cortisone made me extremely anxious and unable to function but my doctors thought it too risky to lower the dosage. My Indian friends encouraged me to go back to yoga which is seen in India as a key ingredient to controlling asthma.

I started taking restorative and asana classes and through the practice was able to let go of all the fear and anxiety locked in my body and breath. Through yoga I was able to get off all asthma medications. I signed up for teacher training to be able to help others the way yoga had helped me.

Where You Teach:

I teach group classes at Ishta Yoga’s uptown and downtown studio and Yoga Works east side location in NYC

What You Teach:

ATT00002I teach asana classes with yoga nidra and Restorative/Yoga Nidra workshops. I also teach teach teacher training at Ishta plus I teach specialized yoga nidra trainings and co lead Restorative trainings that we teach around the world.

In my teens, growing up in Mumbai, we had a teacher come into school to teach us Yoga Nidra. She told us that  twenty minutes of yoga nidra was equivalent to six hours of sleep. I fell in love with the practice because it took me to such a place of stillness.

All through college and graduate school, I continued to practice yoga nidra and sometimes even taught  it to my friends when they were up studying late at night.

When I first started practicing yoga in New York I loved all the asana classes but couldn’t understand why there was no guided relaxation. It seemed that we put in so many detailed instructions on how to teach active poses but we were just expected to fall into a state of deep relaxation on our own.

I started putting yoga nidra into every class I taught. What I found was that though most people in those days didn’t know what yoga nidra was, it was what they liked and needed most. The longer the yoga nidra’s were the more students I drew.

I started bringing yoga nidra into my restorative classes too. It seemed that restorative yoga would be the perfect practice to do before leading  people into a very deep yoga nidra. I combined these two disciplines and  developed  Restorative/Yoga Nidra workshops.

Who/What Inspires You:

The teacher that has inspired me most is Alan Finger. I grew up in Mumbai with an Indian father and an American mother. I’ve always been interested in how our beliefs shape the lens through which we see life.

What I like about Alan is that he doesn’t have a set of yoga beliefs that he lives by but instead his yoga is about stepping out of our box of beliefs and being present for what is. Most often we see people let go of one set of beliefs and replace them with another set – the structure of the mind stays the same though the content changes.

For me clearing the lens through which we see life and becoming aware of how all the underlying assumptions we make shape our reality is what inspires  me to practice. It is why I love teaching and practicing yoga nidra so much – because aside from deep relaxation yoga nidra is a technique that helps us release past impressions and experiences that color the lens through which we see life.

Mission:

I would like to bring yoga nidra to as many people as possible. It is often more accessible to people than a seated meditation because it’s easier on the body and has so many benefits. For one, it takes stress out of the body which is the primary cause of so many of our modern day diseases.

By moving awareness through the body and through visualization it activates the right side of the brain that governs our ability to feel, to dream, and to see the bigger picture. Our modern day lifestyle encourages left brain dominance, thinking, analyzing, and organizing.

Since our  brains are developing until the day we die, we can practice techniques that activate the right side and the prefrontal cortex and can bring more balance and integration into our lives.

If we look at the world, most conflicts both on a global scale and in our own lives are shaped by us believing that our beliefs are reality and protecting our version of it. What starts to happen when we practice yoga nidra is we’re able to let go of our tightly held version of realty and be able to see another way.

I used to run a kids yoga program at Be Yoga, now Yoga Works in NYC. I included yoga nidra in every class I taught and the kids  just loved it. Kids find it much easier to visualize, a large component of yoganidra, because they’re not stuck in their beliefs with the way things should be.

Visualization has so many benefits which include being able to change our inner state without needing an external experience.

Favorite Quotes:

The eyes are useless when the mind is blind – Rumi

Out beyond our ideas of right and wrong there is a field, meet me there – Rumi

Online and Social:

Website URL: www.monaanand.com

Facebook: – Mona Anand Yoga

Itunes – Mona Anand’s Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation or Sleep

Utube – Mona Anand’s Yoga Nidra 

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