Can doing 'womb yoga' be the key to understanding your body? We ask an Irish teacher about the practice of Yoga Nidra
"We are cyclical beings living in a linear society"
You've heard of bendy yoga, sexy yoga and sweaty yoga... but have you ever heard of womb yoga?
Officially called Yoga Nidra, it is also is known as the yoga of sleep – meaning you don't actually have to do any physical movement.
Yoga Nidra is now available in Ireland with Kate Gaffey who runs 'Womban' classes, for anyone with a womb, in Dublin.
"There is no physical movement. People lie down, get as comfy as possible under cosy blankets and are guided through a meditation of sorts. In this practice, it's like the body is asleep but the mind is still active.
"It's deeply restful and allows you to connect to your body and the subtle wisdom within. I believe people get what they need from this practice – whether it's rest, intuition or inner guidance. The best way to understand Yoga Nidra is to try it yourself!"
Kate spent years working in the finance sector before re-training as a yoga and pilates teacher and setting up her own business, Workplace Wellness. Kate caters to both individuals and businesses, and her current corporate clients include Savills, KBC, Squarespace, Ernst & Young and Bord Gáis.
Her Womban class helps women to understand their own bodies.
"We set up an environment where it feels safe to connect with yourself, as well as with other women. We are all so busy – working, caring for others and getting shit done. These classes and workshops provide a space and the time to connect."
Part of Kate's teaching is exploring the cycles of the womb, which is spoken about in terms of 'seasons' in the Womban class.
"The relationship that a woman has to her body and to her cycle is of vital importance. In the culture we live in women are often cut off from their bodies, and from their cycles. We're taught that we are not good enough as we are. We're never educated about our cycles, other than being told don't get pregnant and that menstruation is a curse.
"We are cyclical beings living in a linear society. Once we understand our own unique cycles and the natural ebb and flow, we're in a better position to care for ourselves. We can give ourselves the gift of rest in our inner winter (menstruation), we can play and explore in our inner spring (pre-ovulation), we can use our superwoman energy in our inner summer (ovulation) and we can step up our self care in our inner autumn phase (post-ovulation)."
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⭕️ Cycle Day 1. Inner Winter. Tender . Yesterday... all the feels ? . A busy day + a brush with negative people left me feeling frazzled. I took some unkind comments personally and felt raw & upset. I reached out to people who could help & was met with a love bombing of the highest order. This lead to more tears (the good kind) because my day 1 tends to leave me wide open ❤️ . I’m pretty sure that at any other point in my cycle I would have taken the negativity in my stride. Not Day 1 though - Raw. Open. Vulnerable. It meant I asked for help. I’m glad I did ✨ . The beautiful part of cycle awareness is that you understand yourself on a deeper level. That understanding can lead to more self-compassion, more tenderness, more care, more patience & more acceptance. Instead of trying to push on, business as usual, we can take a step back and surrender to where we are. There is huge power in this. We get to embrace each aspect of ourselves that emerges through the cycle - not try to force ourselves up be where we feel we should be. Lately, I enjoy my intuitive powers when I bleed, my playful side in spring, my raw power in summer & the zero focks I give in my inner autumn. It’s great & you can learn your own unique patterns too ? . All of this to say that I have a new course?WOMBAN?- a self-care course for women starting @yoga_kitchen_ next Weds at 8.30pm. It is a space for women (of all ages) to rest & restore while connecting to their own unique cyclical nature. Learn about our inner seasons, energies & archetypes. Enjoy nourishing movement & restful Yoga Nidra in a supportive environment. Connect with yourself, your heart & your womb. Perfect for those in need of rest. For those who want to connect with their bodies on a deeper level. For those in need of space to replenish ? . Connecting with our bodies allows us to access our creativity & intuition. We get to hear the faintest whispers of our soul. Someone (I think @umadinsmoretuli) said “to rest is a radical act”. ✨ . Women of all ages & stages of life are welcome to this class. Get in touch with any questions. If you feel like a restful treat, join Womban. Wed 20.30 @yoga_kitchen_ Come fill the tank! ⛽️❤
The value for participants Kate stresses, is manifold.
"It improves clarity, confidence and our own personal authority and sense of self. Our relationship with our cycles is part of this – it's a key piece of our own inner knowing.
"Women love it. They feel connected to themselves. They feel more inspired to put themselves first, or step up their self care. They start to treat themselves with more compassion. They don't feel so alone with their struggles."
Feeling kinship with other women is key, so Kate draws on the traditions of women's circles, which encourage women to spend time solely with each other.
"It's a beautiful practice to sit in circle with other women. When we hear other women speak and share, it often resonates deeply within. We begin to understand we are all facing similar battles and struggles. When we are witnessed in our entirety, seen by other women in the circle, that can be a very healing thing. To sit in a circle of women itself is medicine."
Kate says women at all different stages of life can benefit from Womban.
"We've had post-menopausal women gifting themselves this time of care and rest. We have women trying to conceive coming to connect to their bodies. We have had busy mums looking for some time out.
"Occasionally we have women who have really struggled with their bodies or their cycles. This practice of cycle awareness can be helpful: once they get to understand the patterns, they can meet them with with grace, care and understanding."
While yoga has taken a bit of a beating from some religious leaders in recent years, Kate's experience as a teacher has been overwhelmingly positive.
"No priests have gotten in touch!" she laughs. "I find most people are quite open and that people are actually craving this kind of work.
"We don't give people enough credit. For example, any men I've shared the 'inner seasons' and menstruation piece with seem intrigued. Even in the corporate world this work is slowly being included more and more. There are all kinds of amazing women doing this work in Dublin right now. The future looks bright."
Find out more about Kate's Womban and Yoga Nidra classes here.