I practiced yoga on and off during my adult life, however never as a steady practice. In 2008 my husband died after eighteen months of terminal bone marrow cancer called multiple myeloma. We’d been married almost fifteen years, and I was left with four children, two grown and two still at home. Suddenly becoming an only parent and surviving on one income instead of two presented a host of challenges. My older kids were a huge support to me, taking the younger two children out on “sibling days” to give them time together, and to give me time alone.
I put all my energy into making sure my kids were okay: taking them to therapy and support groups; making sure they made it to all their activities; making sure homework was done etc. I put them before me, and my own physical and mental health began to suffer. My husband had been a very well-known basketball coach in the community. It was hard to go anywhere without running into someone who knew him. Somehow, I was in a constant state of consoling others, rather than getting the support I needed for myself.
In fact, my kids nurse practitioner used to call to check on me regularly. One day when I said I was ‘reaching the end of my rope’ she told me I needed to start taking care of myself, or I wouldn’t be able to take care of the kids anymore. That hit home for me so I started therapy myself and made exercise a regular part of my routine.
Participating in therapy, support groups, and a wonderful in-person and online widow network called soaring spirits international, helped me immensely through my grieving process. Eventually I began a steady yoga practice and found yet another level of healing. Movement and breath allowed me to release grief from my body that I didn’t even realize I was holding onto.
Yoga provided me with a wonderful physical outlet that I had not found in any other forms of exercise or yoga. Also a steadying of my mind so crucial to my healing. At the time I didn’t really understand why, but I know I cried through not only hip openers but many other portions of practice for a good nine months.
Widowhood throws a huge monkey wrench into everything and yoga also provided me with a level of social support. Couples no longer want to include you when you are alone, and I didn’t always feel comfortable around divorced friends. Most people have no clue what to say. Yoga allowed me to interact on my own terms.
I was practicing in a room full of people, but wonderfully I could be alone and inward at the same time. Once practice started it was just me and my mat. Gradually getting to know people of all different ages allowed me to build a new support system. My youngest daughter also practices yoga and it became something new we could share during this trying time.
I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training, and continued with more yoga trainings. I became interested in the use of yoga to work through the grief process and I presented nationally at a conference hosted by soaring spirits. As I continued to both study, practice and teach, I was able to move forward in my own healing process. Over the past few years I have undergone five major surgeries, and found my yoga practice to be crucial to my recovery in each of them.
One thing that continued to be a huge stumbling block to me, as well as many widows I know, is insomnia. For the past eleven years I have cycled through some really difficult spells having minimal sleep, which greatly affecting my work and personal life. I have practiced meditation on and off with yoga, and although it helped me to sleep better to some extent, there were still many nights where sleep eluded me.
About nine months ago I was introduced to yoga nidra which in my training was suggested as a tool for helping with veterans and first responders. In the short trial practice of yoga nidra during training, I found that I experienced a level of calmness and a feeling of restoration that I often lacked, even on the nights that I did sleep. I was quickly convinced yoga nidra was a tool I needed. For myself as well as for my students, particularly my grieving community.
I found Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra first on the Insight Timer app. Then I searched and found that Jennifer was bringing her teacher training to my area, and was extremely excited to enroll and learn more about this specific form of yoga nidra.
Jennifer’s training was all I could have asked for and more! She is a phenomenal speaker and presented the information in such a great easy to understand way. There was lots of hands on practice and that solidified the learning. Her course manual is a great and informative tool.
However, what I found most amazing, was that within the first two days of the training, I was getting the best sleep that I had had in the past eleven years! Yoga nidra offers me an ability to clear my mind, and find restoration and rest in the midst of a busy day. Jennifer’s cd’s are a wonderful tool that I use any time of day, providing varying lengths of practices.
Even in a short time it has brought me a new awareness and connection with my body. I feel aware and connected with my breath in a new way. I am confident that I have a new tool to use on days when my mind is swirling, and when I am afraid that I am not going to be able to sleep. It has also given me a new level of confidence as a yoga teacher that i now have an additional means to help others.
I am so inspired to take this tool into my yoga community to share this powerful practice to those who need it. Right after the training I jumped in and led a short Divine Sleep® practice with a group of middle-school girls, began leading it in my adult-weekly yoga class, and provided a one-on-one session to a friend who lives with several chronic illnesses including ongoing insomnia.
I am excited to see how much people love this Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra, and how eager they are to participate! I have planned upcoming workshops at the studio where I teach, and hope to make it a regular event. I am sincerely grateful to Jennifer for this training and for how Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra has helped me move into yet another level of healing.