Before I started practicing Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra I was running on empty. I was a very tired “Mom and Yoga Teacher” who was giving, giving, giving, and rarely was I refilling. I was searching for a quiet, gentle practice I could do daily to re-fill.
Becoming a yoga teacher was never in my plan. I worked for many years in arts and fashion and discovered yoga in the late 90’s while working in NYC. My yoga practice began purely as a physical one that I would do in my apartment in the early morning hours using various DVD’s. I practiced this way for many years – just doing the poses – but not practicing anything that was quiet or reflective.
When my family and I decided to move to the Chicago area, I was excited to explore the yoga studios and communities around my new home. My children were two and four years of age and that made me anxious to begin a more regular yoga practice again. I was the student who claimed I would “never teach” because I loved being the student so much! Teaching yoga never really crossed my mind.
Shortly after our move, I met a teacher I connected with, and felt encouraged to begin a yoga teacher training with the idea that it would expand my knowledge of yoga. However, in the teacher training, there was a huge shift for me, and I realized that I Ioved it all so much that I wanted to, and needed to share it with others and thus, I became a yoga teacher!
The first year of teaching yoga I put everything into designing and teaching well-rounded classes. I would come early to chat with my students and leave late when they wanted to hang around the studio after to talk. I taught classes at 6:30 AM and then again at 6:30 PM, in between staying home with my two young children, and teaching classes on the weekends as well. I would fill my schedule to get as much experience teaching as I could. Physically, I was still practicing on my own but mentally I knew I needed something more. What I was really searching for was a quiet, gentle, inner practice.
I eventually I trained in Yoga Therapy and began teaching a wide variety of populations from young children to seniors. While attending a Yoga Therapy conference, I had my first taste of yoga nidra. And it was so profound that exactly one year later I arrived at Kripalu Center for Jennifer’s Yoga and Deep Relaxation Retreat! With Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra I felt I finally found the quiet, inner practice I needed and had been searching for.
I loved how Jennifer bases Divine Sleep® on the five koshas (the levels of being) as gateways within oneself to go deeper within to bring more awareness to my whole being. I realized the piece I was missing in meditation was the complete whole-being awareness that Divine Sleep® offers.
At the beginning of the retreat it took me two days to settle in, mainly because I was thinking about my summer “to do” list and the kids, who were in Cape Cod with their Dad – are they sleeping okay: are they putting on their sunblock… all the things I worry about as a mother. Our twice daily Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidras eventually quieted my mind, and I let go into a place of drop down and re-set. I really got that yoga nidra was something I not only wanted to do daily because I felt so good, but that I also need to do it.
Now, Divine Sleep® is essential for me as daily maintenance. As a yoga teacher, I need to have something I can do to quiet my mind so I can be present for my students. I know now that I cannot keep giving out energy without filling myself first. My daily yoga nidra practice has also allowed me to be more available for my family.