I have struggled with anxiety and depression all my life. It all began with childhood trauma and by my mid-twenties, anxiety attacks became a regular occurrence for me. I could feel when it was coming on and I would just become more and more tense, with shallow breathing and my heart racing. It would feel like I was going to die and then I would become very frightened which led to even greater anxiety. It was a vicious cycle. My doctor would come to my house and give me an injection of anti-anxiety medication to calm me down.
In my earlier years I anestheticized myself with drugs and alcohol. Later, I began to try other healthier things such as Biofeedback, mindfulness training, bodywork, TM and many different therapies and therapists. There was not much I did not try in an attempt to manage my anxiety and depression. I learned a lot about myself, the source of the problem, and managed to make profound changes in my life to continue to be productive. I sure do wish I would have known about Yoga Nidra then.
When I was 58 years old I enrolled in a year-long yoga teacher training because I wanted to enter my 60th year having done something really great for myself and go into that decade strong! During the training, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had bilateral mastectomies and chemotherapy. I did my best to continue with the training even though I could not move very much and felt awful and that is where I was introduced to the practice of Yoga Nidra. It was a real blessing because the cancer diagnosis really kicked in my panic disorder.
I discovered Yoga Nidra was an incredibly effective tool to manage the new level of anxiety and depression that I was dealing with. I recall my second Yoga Nidra experience vividly. When we were prompted to come back to everyday consciousness, I knew my body was really, really, really happy! There was a Mona Lisa smile on my face instead of a grimace. It was so profound that a lightning bolt went off for me. I practiced Yoga Nidra during my entire treatment and vowed to pursue it as a teacher when I was more able.
I truly believe if it was not for yoga nidra – Jennifer’s CD’s and a recording I made for myself – I would not have healed as well and quickly as I did from the multiple surgeries that have been part of my cancer journey. I listened to other CD’s as well, but Jennifer’s became my “go-to” choice. Her voice is so soothing and the method she used did not cause me to become agitated as did some of the others. I still find the ‘Insomnia Track’ very helpful when I need an aid to lull me back to sleep.
Yoga Nidra gave me a sense of peace and both my body and mind a chance to rest in a way that nothing else could. Somehow the practice brought me to the knowing that my body needed and wanted this deep state of rest … and my mind a needed to take respite from its anxiety ridden thoughts. I was delighted when I learned that Jennifer offered a Divine Sleep yoga nidra workshop at Kripalu. I had a great experience there. I was even more delighted when she offered a Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra Teacher Training! I signed up immediately. I loved it. Jennifer has a way of delivering information that makes it easy to grasp. She made the illogical logical! I keep asking her when Part 2 will be offered because I want more.
One interesting change is that before yoga nidra, I really did not like my voice – I have a low register – and when I was younger I would try to change it to sound like the voices of the other girls. It’s only been the past few years since I have been leading Yoga Nidra that I began to like my voice. Students would comment and I have come to realize my voice is relaxing, earthy and beautiful, and that my voice is a gift.
Yoga nidra has helped me more than any other practice or therapy. The profound sense of peace goes well beyond what I received from anything else. I continue to practice for my ongoing well-being and it keeps me in balance and assists my health. I have a regular asana/posture practice but when push comes to shove, Yoga Nidra is the part that I always do in a time crunch because I know that what I need most is rest and rejuvenation. My life is definitely better, definitely improved, and now I am able to cope with all situations with more calm, grace, and ease.