Sydney Cutler

Before discovering Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra, my life, on the surface seemed pretty ideal. I was married to the love of my life, had a successful career as a medical social worker, and was mom to an amazing toddler.

What no one could see, however, was a totally different story. I was suffering from crippling postpartum depression years after having given birth; I was under a great deal of job pressure and stress; and I was sick as a dog! I had been living with a rare autoimmune disease since 2000, I wasn’t sleeping, I struggled with my weight and body image, and on and on.


I felt like my life was totally out of control. The final straw was that I ended up in the emergency room while at work with dangerously high blood pressure — and the physician, knowing I was an employee there, telling me, “You’ve got to get out of this job if you want to live.”


thumbnail_IMG_0758 (1)

And life as I knew it kind of came to a halt.

I knew how I was living was unsustainable. Eventually I was able to quit my job, but I felt totally lost as to what the next steps would be. Then I discovered Yoga Nidra. I’ll let one of my past blog posts tell my story:

All these changes happening over the past few months have left me feeling more than a little fried. I left a successful, yet deeply unsatisfying job, endured major surgery, and watched my whole sense of self turn upside down in a very short period of time.

Even though things are beginning to settle down externally, internally I am still kind of fragile, like a baby bird just beginning to leave the nest. I’ve been sleeping poorly and having mild anxiety spells. Every morning at 4:45 am (on the DOT for goodness sakes!) I wake up, for no good reason. Then the birds start waking up with their mating calls and keep me up ‘til the break of dawn. If I were child-free, I’d probably be able to fall back to sleep around 6:30, but alas, E is up and literally running at that time (not that I am complaining), and the day rushes on. So I have been looking for some way– any way– to catch up on some rest.

After I recovered from my surgery, a dear friend gifted me with a five-class series at Yogala Echo Park, and I’ve been going to a variety of classes to see which teachers I like and which classes work with my schedule (or that I can make work for what I want). One Sunday evening I decided to try something new: Yoga Nidra meditation class.
I had never heard of Yoga Nidra before, but as I read the class description a sentence jumped out at me: 20 minutes of yoga nidra is as rejuvenating as four hours of sleep! Needless to say, I got my ass over there.

It was a transformative experience.

I was so sleepy, yet aware of everything around me. All judgment and tension had evaporated from my being. The teacher then guided us to a visualization of a nurturing image. As I formulated an image in my mind’s eye, I felt hot tears streaming down my cheeks and a tremendous feeling of release.

Somehow, I was able to transform from someone who takes care of everything and everyone, to one who is gently and securely swaddled in the arms of the ones I love, the arms of my friends, the arms of my city, the world, the universe. I never thought a feeling like this was possible in my lifetime, much less in a period of 45 minutes.

From that profound experience, I experienced not only the deep relaxation I was desperate for, but also discovered a feeling of deep connection with my true and tender Self. I felt the support of many other beings that I had envisioned in the meditation, and who held me in that safe space. I was hooked!

Over time I had a wide variety of transformative experiences with yoga nidra, and to be completely honest, not all of them felt pleasant every moment. However, even in a meditation session that had me wanting to jump out of my skin, I found myself rested, renewed, and just a little lighter from the weight I carried on my shoulders.


Through yoga nidra, in complement with excellent medical and mental health care, my life began to not only become bearable, but also pleasurable. I began making concrete changes in my ability to care for myself, in my career, relationships, and everything!

Years later, through regular practice, I realized that I wanted to help people to discover a whole new way of looking at and living their lives. My teacher, knowing there were not many yoga nidra guides in our city, encouraged me to study with her teacher, Jennifer Reis.

That seemed impossible, given that I live in California and Jennifer is based in the NE. In time, I decided that training with Jennifer would be an investment in my new path. And, not only did I thrive under Jennifer’s compassionate guidance, I truly discovered my gift and passion! To say that I am so very excited to share Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra with my community would be the understatement of the year. My soul overflows with gratitude.