Jacob Welsh
From Rock Bottom to Bliss

For more than a decade, I chose to live an adventurous, challenging, and fun lifestyle. In the summer, I worked as a firefighter putting out wildfires throughout the western states in our vast network of forests. In the winter, I traveled the globe in pursuit of beautiful locations, ocean waves and volunteer opportunities.

This seasonal flux between fire and water came to a crashing halt when I broke seven vertebrae and severely injured my psoas muscle while parachuting into a wildfire in Northern Idaho.

With the loss of most of my physical abilities, including my consistent yoga practice, I allowed myself to essentially hit “rock bottom.” From anger to anxiety, futility to self-pity, an emotional rollercoaster rolled through my being, coupled with my old stories consistently playing in my mind like a Rolodex. Like many people in the firefighting profession, I identified myself by my job and my physical abilities.

While recovering, I had plenty of time to turn my attention inward. I began to explore yoga, healing and self-help. Restorative yoga brought me back on the mat and eventually led me to sign up for my first yoga nidra workshop. Instantly, I fell in love with yoga nidra after experiencing the calming effects, vivid imagery and an increased sense of awareness.

After my first yoga nidra experience, I knew this practice would play a major role not only in my healing now, but as a path for the rest of my life. I left class feeling like I could shoot laser beams of energy through my fingertips! It awakened my energy and sensitivity within. Colors seemed brighter. My every breath felt pure and certain. My pain was merely a ‘sensation’ and not something that dragged me down. I felt joy and bliss after yoga nidra!

I continued going to seek out yoga nidra and soon realized that the practice is not consistently available and affordable where I live in Bend, Oregon. Seeing this gap, I realized that part of my intention moving forward, was to both make yoga nidra affordable, and to reach out to individuals who do not regularly practice yoga or have limited access to meditation: like some of my fellow firefighters who have been severely injured on the job.

Then the question of how came up: How will I manifest this intention? I left it up to the universe and found myself traveling across the country to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in MA, enrolled in Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra Teacher Training with Jennifer Reis.

Before the training, I never heard Jennifer’s voice, not on a CD, video or YouTube. Never. On a whim, I chose her training… It was one of the best choices that I have ever made! When I walked into the opening evening and I heard Jennifer speak for the first time, I thought “Wow! What a beautiful, peaceful voice. I can’t wait for her to guide us through a yoga nidra practice.”

With a clear, soothing and mindful presence, Jennifer guided us through some of the most amazing journeys in the Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra practice. Sometimes I drifted off into the realm of the conscious/subconscious mind, while other times I could recall the entire experience. With Jennifer’s guidance, I was able to see vivid visual imagery through the chakras, into ancient forests, and soaring through and into the inner landscape of one’s being.

After each Divine Sleep journey, I was a peaceful space, where I felt positive energy flourish in my soul, and again any pains became mere sensations, and contentment filled my heart.

In addition to the Divine Sleep practice, the chanting, mudras and five element-based asana brought me to such a blissful state that I can still feel the positive energy radiate through me just to think of it now. I highly recommend Jennifer’s training. She has such a great presence and her voice is magical. Jennifer is a very knowledgeable yoga instructor and phenomenal presenter. Her method of guiding yoga nidra is graceful and accessible to people from all walks of life.

I’ve found Jennifer’s CD’s to be an invaluable tool not only for my relaxation but also provided me a solid framework for guiding others in this healing practice. I use her calm, steady voice regularly to help with my ongoing healing process and to maintain a deep level of relaxation.

Like a divine shovel, yoga nidra has allowed me to dig into the deeper parts of my true Self, has revitalized my internal energy and has allowed me to accept myself just the way I am. I feel incredibly fortunate and so grateful to have been able to be a part of the Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra Teacher Training with Jennifer, the assistants and the great group of students who took part in this amazing training. I’m excited to use my newly acquired knowledge to guide others who need deep rest and relaxation, and for those who have suffered.