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jen yoga beach
Suzanne Newsome
Yoga Nidra is My Keystone

In 2001 I was a municipal manager for a town of 55,000 residents. I oversaw a wide range of services including police, fire, rescue, public works, parks and recreation. My husband was an early career psychologist and we had two young daughters. While I enjoyed this time of my life tremendously, the pace, stress and magnitude of it all began to take a toll on my health.

One night while sitting in the lobby of my daughter’s dance school, I noticed a flyer announcing a yoga class being offered by the dance teacher, Ms. Tina. I knew absolutely nothing about yoga, however, the description outlined in the flyer was compelling, and feeling curiously drawn to it, I decided to give it a try. I was immediately hooked on yoga classes!

I adored Ms. Tina and practicing yoga with her felt emotionally and physically empowering. This ultimately led me to begin an intentional journey of self-inquiry and spirituality. To my great dismay, she moved away, and although I continued to enjoy and benefit from yoga, it was many years before I experienced and connected with another teacher the way I connected with her.

Then after many years of practicing yoga, and as a life-long student of far too many topics, I began exploring mindfulness, meditation, ceremony and the practice of gratitude. Several life-altering events transformed me, and I began feeling a strong pull to truly understand myself, and my place in the world. I began to weave my affinity for nature, as well as my own cultural traditions, into my daily practices.

Previously I had viewed both nature, and my cultural practices, simply as ‘the way things were done’, rather than as the grounding forces they actually are. I realized the potency and began to consciously weave them into my contemplative practices.

My Pennsylvania German family and I come from many generations of farmers. Go back a hundred years or so and most people lived on farms, or in farming communities, where life depended on living in connection with the land and the seasons. While my generation was the first to not to grow up on the farm, our childhood years were filled with gardening, quilting, canning, and preserving.

We spent holidays and summer vacations with relatives in Central Pennsylvania roaming the countryside communing with animals, insects, plants and the awesome Susquehanna River. We were most likely the only family to return to our suburban Philadelphia neighborhood with a leg of cured meat that was unceremoniously hung in the laundry room.

My ‘seeking’ instincts, along with the occasion of my 30th wedding anniversary, ultimately led my husband and I to attend a program at Kripalu Center. I had heard of Kripalu, and had friends who visited the center on a regular basis, but I had never actually been there myself. The program was awesome, exceeding all of my expectations – which is saying a lot – given I had waited 30-years to get there! And I’ve been back many times since.

It was there that attended Jennifer’s Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra workshop. The class was wondrous! A truly unique experience. Jennifer was so knowledgeable, skilled and caring. Just as my first yoga teacher Ms. Tina had been! I left with a huge smile on my face feeling relaxed, restored, and empowered. I began my regular yoga nidra practice the day I arrived home. And it has become indispensable ever since that first time in Jennifer’s class. I wanted to know more and loved studying to become a Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra teacher with Jennifer and love sharing this practice with others!

Yoga nidra has become my keystone. It is what integrates all of my practices, and allows me to incorporate my love of nature and my cultural practices. This meditation creates a condition where my whole is stronger than my individual parts. I feel this has been immensely valuable to me, as my life has at times been so very hard.

I did not want to carry the effects my traumas forward, nor impact myself negatively, or those around me. Contemplative practices and meditation are tremendous tools in the quest for emotional, physical and spiritual well-being because they can, and do, bring up strong emotions and past experiences to be integrated.

The transforming practice of Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra has helped me to balance my autonomic nervous system, relax my body, and thus has allowed me to open myself to a greater understanding of the gift and beauty that is my interconnected life. I am so very grateful to have discovered Jennifer and this beautiful practice!

In kindness and gratitude,

Suzanne