Kat's Story of EcoNIDRA™: Where Shavasana meets Nature Connection

Before reading, find a comfortable position where you can lay down on your back and enjoy being guided through a triple journey through your senses, body and the Earth.

Born from the marriage of the ancient yoga nidra and Forest Therapy, EcoNIDRA™ is a deeply relaxing practice for the mind, body and emotions that helps us reconnect with ourselves and with nature. Apart from deep relaxation of the entire ecosystem of the body-mind and the sense of connectedness with their inner nature and the whole, EcoNIDRA™participants are sharing experiences like long forgotten childhood memories or nature experiences in distant countries, meetings with all kinds of personal guides or family members or even out-of-body experiences. The practice has profoundly deep relaxing and re-energizing effects with a session of 40 minutes being reported to have the effect of 3-4 hours of deep sleep. But how did it all start?

It’s May 2020 and while most of the human world is hit by Covid-19, I’m being diagnosed with Lyme disease. Corona & Lyme, what a joke, if I had the energy to laugh... My Lyme disease is confronting me with days when I can live my life for no more than two hours a day. For the rest of the time, I’m too tired to stay awake. Is this chronic fatigue? Is this how my life is going to look like, going forward? Both the doctor and the internet say it might be the case. As a Forest Therapy guide and trainer who has remembered and cultivated deep nature connection and respect for all nature including my own body, I knew the way for me to go was by stimulating my own immune system to allow the body to heal. The best way to do it would be to go into my beloved forest and let the phytoncides do their work, but how do you do that when you can barely even walk?

I remembered something. It was a feeling. The feeling of waking up on a meadow on a beautiful warm summer day back in 2015. I was laying on my back after a yoga nidra session that was taught during Yoga Festival Terschelling, in the beautiful grassy sand dunes on one of the Dutch islands. It was a feeling of total bliss, being completely relaxed and energized at the same time, fully alive and in deep love with all the beings surrounding me on that meadow. Remembering this experience, I found some recorded yoga nidra sessions and started practicing yoga nidra while laying on my back in the Shavasana position every day. What happened within a couple of weeks was almost a miracle - not only was I able to stay awake during my days again, I gained all my energy back and some more, and some profound soul healing happened for me exactly where it needed to happen. I felt refreshed and nourished as never before, symptom-free and with a sense of deep inner peace and clearer consciousness. I started to study yoga nidra and became a certified teacher.

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My new energy allowed me to do solo walks in the forest again, where I had beautifully intense encounters with dragonflies - those ancient beings that have been on planet Earth for millions of years. The colors, the elegance of their flight, the sound, the feeling of vibrant presence when they stop right in front of you and you come to see them eye to eye… Dragonflies and damselflies kept coming back to me, flying around in circles and sitting on my body so often that I decided to look up the symbolism of dragonflies. As it turned out, in ancient times, dragonflies were considered beings that were able to travel between different dimensions. They were also believed to be connected to human beings and willing to guide them through different dimensions of perception. These fascinating beings inspired me to create EcoNIDRA™, and to start a community of teachers, guides who’d be like dragonflies: guiding others through different dimensions of consciousness, connecting heaven and Earth. Yoga nidra is able to do that and as a Forest Therapy guide I feel the relation with nature is in every single atom of our beings, so it made perfect sense to me to create a blend of both worlds that would serve my mission in this lifetime: helping people to relax and reconnect with nature, with themselves and with others.

Self-care is giving the world the best of you, not what’s left of you. -Katie Reed

And so, EcoNIDRA™ has emerged as a new practice. With Forest Therapy as taught by the ANFT, the Himalayan tradition of yoga nidra as taught by Swami Rama and The Random Acts of Kindness movement being the most important roots of its lineage, EcoNIDRA™ has been developed and tested with hundreds and thousands of participants by now. People seeking inner peace, stillness, those who are longing for a sense of connection with themselves and with nature, looking for healing and real relaxation. With no more than 50 minutes per session, the practice is very accessible and easy to be integrated in everyone’s life, with either an early morning session to set the tone for the day, a lunch break to refresh, an after-work session to mark the line between work and private life and being able to be fully present for our loved ones, or a night session just before bedtime to support good night’s sleep. Companies like Netflix, The Power of Time Off, Heldergroen and others have been offering EcoNIDRA™ sessions to their employees and business partners as a beautiful gift supporting their mental wellbeing. Groups of friends from all around the world are taking live stream sessions EcoNIDRA™ together to reconnect in a beautiful, different way. And the first groups of EcoNIDRA™ Teachers are spreading the practice even more throughout the planet - beautiful Dragonflies who have decided to be the voice that reconnects.

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And what does an EcoNIDRA™ session look like? You are lying on your back, in the most comfortable position for you, and are being guided by a voice of the teacher. Certified EcoNIDRA™ teachers have had comprehensive training in how to use their voice, body, breath, heart, language and pace of speaking to help you drop into the slow theta and delta brain waves, enjoy the deepest possible relaxation and allow your free imagination to bring up what it needs to bring up for you. They will invite you to partner with a nature being that will be your ally and witness for the practice, and to take a triple journey: a journey through your senses, a Pilgrimage through the body (also known as Rotation of Consciousness) and the Earth journey with beautiful, professionally recorded nature soundscapes that set your imagination free. In the deeply relaxed state of your mind, they will invite you to plant a seed of a heart-felt wish or intention, and to do an act of kindness in this world by spreading the soft gentleness you have just cultivated for yourself. 

Apart from all knowledge about the brain waves, relaxation techniques and the flow of a session, the teachers have built up their own extensive experience with EcoNIDRA™ and have been reflecting on the changes and benefits it has brought into their own lives. They learn to embody the inner peace, connectedness and kindness the practice represents. As such, EcoNIDRA™ is a beautiful relaxing and healing journey, for the participants and the teacher alike. It’s a powerful and very accessible tool in the toolbox of everyone whose calling it has been to help humans reconnect with their inner nature, with the planet and with others. Or, as my Dragonflies, the EcoNIDRA™ teachers, shared:

"Like water flowing out and into the world, as vapor, rain and bodies of water, EcoNIDRA will be everywhere serving those who need it." - EcoNIDRA™ Teacher Training Participant

"Thus far, the training, instructor (Kat) and practice have been incredibly wonderful. I feel such a lovely connection with it. Kat has been responsive to questions, generous with her time and connective in her techniques. I feel transported and balanced when we experience a session in training. The only thing I struggle with is the technical aspects, and I'm working on that end of things. I highly recommend this training!!!" - EcoNIDRA™ Teacher Training Participant

“This training has provided me with much-needed rest during a stressful period of my work-life. It has provided me a valuable tool to relax quickly and effectively, and to help others do so as well. I'm very grateful for the creation of this practice.” – EcoNIDRA™ Teacher Training participant

"Kat, I am feeling so much gratitude for you and how very rich of a teacher training program you have offered to us. I was just looking through the Resources Library - it is absolutely wonderful and so full with essential materials for us to begin offering this practice. " - EcoNIDRA™ Teacher Training Participant

"This is such a lovely practice! I cannot wait to share it with others. You are wonderful to get this put together and offer it. I'm not sure I mentioned it earlier, but I'm impressed with how well the entire program has been run. Thank you again!"  - EcoNIDRA™ Teacher Training Participant

"Kat, after so many years of taking marketing courses from the time I first became a health educator, it has kind of burned me out. Module 5 has been like a breath of fresh air. I am really feeling my next steps already in a much more authentic way. Thank you." -EcoNIDRA™ Teacher Training Participant

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To learn more about the training, see here. You are welcome to join the Dragonfly movement of Certified EcoNIDRA™ Teachers and to add this practice as a complementary tool to help change the way humans relate to themselves and the Earth. The training is completely self-paced, so that it can easily fit into your life and enrich and nourish it, rather than add to your busy schedule.

With much gratitude to you, like-hearted reader with shared interests, to all those who are part of EcoNIDRA’s lineage, and the amazing experts contribution to the teacher training: Voice work experts from Total Vocal Freedom, yoga nidra and embodiment coach Katharina Pilhofer, integrative health advocate, bestselling author and Forest Therapy guide Shirley Archer and the inspiring and kind Gordon Hempton, an award winning Soundtracker of nature soundscapes from all around the world.

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Kat Novotna, EcoNIDRA™ Founder, kn@econidra.com

Photo credits: Frans Kapteijns

Remembering and nourishing our nature connection often leads to more nature conservation. EcoNIDRA™ is proudly restoring our planet with TreeSisters. For every trainee in the Certified EcoNIDRA™ Teacher Training, we are donating 10 trees.

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