Sisters Emily Coleman and Mary Beck
My World Suddenly Shrank

This is the amazing story of two sisters who have helped each other in life, healing and with love through Emily’s Traumatic Brain Injury:

Twelve years ago, my world suddenly shrank. I was out in the woods happily trail riding. The horse and I didn’t know each other well. ‘Big Red’ didn’t know that I wouldn’t ask him to do anything dangerous. I didn’t know asking him to go around an obstacle in the trail would be scary.

So I was very surprised when he reared, throwing me off. My head hit a rock (thank goodness I was wearing a helmet!). Big Red lost his balance, toppled over, and fell on me. It could have been the origin of the phrase: “Caught between a rock and a hard place”. My brains were scrambled.


Every Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is different. For me, my head feels like a cement bowling ball that is tucked in a too-tight bowling bag, all the time. The pain in my head increases or decreases depending on many factors. But it is always there and has been, since the accident.

I had been a well-respected international consultant, teacher, and supervisor in my field. It took me a while to realize those days were behind me. Also behind me are going to restaurants, concerts, family gatherings, and essentially any activity that involves more than one conversation going on at a time or has background noise.

I have tried many traditional and alternative treatments. Nothing helps for long. Some avenues have been painful and expensive. Through all of this, my sister, Mary, a certified yoga teacher, has been an encouraging, supportive and compassionate presence! I am a joyful and grateful recipient of her skillful and healing ways.


I am very blessed. Blessed to have my sister, Emily, to share yoga with her and to learn from practicing with her. We have tried many types of yoga over the years. I have learned to speak slowly, to use simple words, and have realized that “less” is always better. I can look at her face to tell what is working and what is not! I try to carry these lessons with me always.

When I was taking Deep Sleep® Yoga Nidra training this spring with Jennifer Reis, my sister and I went to Kripalu together. I practiced what I had learned in class with Emily most evenings. She was usually very tired and hurting from attending the R&R drop-in classes during the day.

Emily would always introduce herself to the teacher at the beginning of class, explaining that if she had to leave class early it was because her head hurt and not because the topic was uninteresting or teaching poor.

One evening, I was practicing just the first stages of Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra with Emily. She was covered up with a blanket on her bed, and using an eye pillow as well. I led her through the body scan two times, then slowly brought her back to the present moment and into the room.

Wanting to know if it helped in any way, I asked Emily if she felt any different. She paused to observe her body and feelings, and told me that on the pain scale from 1-10, in which 10 was the highest level of pain that, “I went from a 7 to a 4”.

I was so surprised that such a change could happen in 20 minutes that I asked, “You aren’t just saying that to make me feel good are you?” Emily said “It’s true!” She is always open and honest with me.

I had another way to know that leading her into yoga nidra worked. Emily snores only when she is in a very relaxed state while sleeping. She snored all night! Not so good for me! But I didn’t mind because I knew we found something that worked to soothe her pain.


I think the greatest thing about Deep Sleep® Yoga Nidra for many people with TBI is that it’s something that they can do for themselves. They don’t have to rely on someone else for treatment or medication. Just pop CD on and listen! Or go to a class. Or in our case, have your sister come over. No physical movement or thinking required. Listening softly, and feeling.

I include yoga nidra at the end of my Yin and Restorative yoga classes, and students
love it. They want more! I will be giving a Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra workshop soon and hope it will be in the regular class schedule in the near future.

After so many unsuccessful attempts to deal with my TBI, I was amazed at the impact of
Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra. This practice significantly reduces my headache pain, which allows me to become calm, and also feel and assess my body without getting ‘stuck’ in the pain.

I have listened to Jennifer’s CD so often it has worn out and I am on my second one! Practicing yoga nidra has actually allowed me more freedom in life. Now I can do activities I would have avoided, for example, a friend’s birthday party or a restaurant outing. I practice yoga nidra before to prepare and afterwards to recover. The pain level decreases each time. It is inexpensive and easy to do. I really enjoy the practice!

I am concerned that I sound like a commercial, but I really wanted to share that it has been so effective for me. Yoga nidra has eased my life considerably.

As I reread what I have written, I fear I sound like a complaining, self-pitying
wuss. In fact, my life has been, and continues to be, a journey with many lessons to be
learned, and many gifts to help me learn them, and I am so grateful for these opportunities.

I am blessed with a loving spouse, loyal friends and family, a peaceful country home with horses, dogs and a cat. And as you know, I have the best sister ever and Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra to help me on my journey!