If you have a computer, which many do in the Western world, you know that moment when your browser is just spinning and stops working? I check it out and find that some application is not working properly. Often times I can admit that I saw the slowness of a program but kept on going. By the time I see the spinning cursor, I know something is really wrong. Often times I can restart but if it is really bad I may have to do a complete shut-down. Now I’m being made to stop and acknowledge the problem. I start reminding myself that I really should reboot more often, backup and clean out my computer more regularly. Then maybe I wouldn’t have this problem. Ok I will start taking care of my computer more often – or so I say.
Our mind and body isn’t any different. However listening to it is hard. When I overdo the first thing I notice is when I haven’t had enough sleep. Even when I plan on getting to sleep early I find myself wide awake in the middle of the night. Its 3am and I’m wide awake! Trying to solve problems, think about schedule or things I have to do. No surprise that by the time its time to get up, I don’t feel rested at all. My mind was busy all night long, even when I was asleep. This is common though and a main reason for so many health problems.
So what to do? It was about 4 years ago I heard some yoga teachers talking about Yoga Nidra. “I love me some Nidra”. But I had no idea what it was. Was this an asana or physical practice? Why did their faces look so relaxed just saying the words “Yoga Nidra”? So I attended some classes. Was asleep by the time the first thumb was mentioned. After I woke up from that practice, I went about my crazy life and really didn’t feel different. Just had a great nap. As I attended more classes at Kripalu I was asking many “Whys” to those teaching Yoga Nidra . “Why is one persons version different from another; is there a reason or difference?” “Why use this word vs another.” “Is there a scientific reason to starting with the hand vs the mouth or feet?” I couldn’t get a clear answer.
I believe that just like the computer, the order things happens makes a difference to each person. What if I had spent a long time on a spreadsheet and it locked and I was just about to loose everything with the restart? It will have a big impact on me loosing all that I worked on. Additionally there may be a program running that I wasn’t aware of so it would be quite helpful to recognize that. Other times though I may not mind restarting, waiting and seeing that this is a good thing. That once the computer is back up I will be able to run things smoother and faster.
So about 2 years ago I started hearing about a teacher, Jennifer Reis and her specific Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra (R). I had one of her CD’s and enjoyed it but didn’t really understand the difference in her technique compared to others. I was listening to many Yoga Nidra recordings out there; some good and some not so good. I started out teaching some Yoga Nidra combined with Restorative yoga classes and then some longer independent classes occasionally; I followed a script from Swami Satyananda Saraswati that is quite well known. People often felt good as they went into a deep sleep or they found it so hard to focus on different stages. Therefore I wanted to dive in deeper so I signed up for Jennifer’s specific training.
I posted up on social media that I was going to a 5 day training with Jennifer and immediately got messages like “Enjoy”. “She is great” “Best training I had”. So I thought “Ok – now I’m excited about the education for sure.” What I wasn’t expecting was how much it healed me and helped me experience the practice deeper. Each day we experienced some moderate yoga movement and then Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra (R). What I started doing was practicing the mindful act of staying awake. Repeat to yourself “I am awake”. Also I started repeating quietly what she was saying as she said it during the entire practice. Having a deeper experience myself with the right teacher was what I needed. How can I teach this practice to others without having had that knowledge or deeper level?
No doubt that there were many times where I did go to sleep and snored a bit, but then I caught myself and returned to her voice. The order of her technique mattered as she is following the Kosha’s or layers of physical body, breath, mind, witness and bliss. Beyond the words though there is an experience that must be felt to really understand why the Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra (R) helps you personally. When taught this way it is a deep state of meditation that helps many go past the general tools of concentration that many spend their time in yoga or other forms of meditation classes.
I spent days understanding the ‘Why’ more and how to create safe environments and techniques depending on each person. Found out about words and language that make a difference. Jennifer was also really good at saying when she didn’t know or have the answers to something. Science and medicine today still has so much to really know and understand and we don’t have to claim to have the answer. Instead my intension of being safe, loving and caring to each person I encounter is where my focus is right now; less about absolutes. I found out so much during this training and it will take time to grow my understanding of it more but I’m excited about this journey. I wrote my own script that follows Jennifer’s guidelines and look forward to building and developing my scripts as time goes on. All I can tell you is that now in teaching this practice I can actually see the immediate difference from students reactions. When students come out of the Divine Sleep practice, even if they did go to sleep for a bit, the majority of time was there awake and mindful. Really meditating. This is a place of reset that often leaves you shutting down one program at a time; getting ready to restart. Many people are commenting on a glow in my face that I have now. “You look different. You using a new moisturizer? Your face is glowing” Nope that is the impact of this practice.
Of course to me, when you are that relaxed and asked to restart that is really the toughest part. I still find myself saying “No! That went by so fast!” and as I go from laying on my back to my side getting ready to sit up, I still feel like a little girl wanting to pull the covers over my head and say “Five more Minutes!”. But then I do sit up and feel calm, peaceful and clear. Able to perform so much better now that I took the time to properly reset. Then I see that I just performed my own internal maintenance and that by doing this more regularly would only help me run better.
Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra Teacher Training May 2016:
Amazing group and community that came together and it really touched me deeply.
Relationships I look forward to growing further for the long term.