February 3, 2016

How Yoga Nidra Saved me from a Life-Threatening Disease.


Editor’s Note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. 


I was 30 years old, 100 pounds overweight and a very skilled four-pack-a-day smoker.

As a touring musician, this kind of lifestyle was supported.

One day I was home doing some renovations and the next I was in intensive care with a rare autoimmune illness that was killing my red blood cells.

I was a mess, and the prognosis was grim.

I was well enough to not be in the hospital, so eventually I was sent home—only my doctor expected me back in the hospital within a short period of time.

Instead of being sad about this reality, however, it inspired me. I began researching alternative healing options. My friend sent me to a yoga class where I met a really great teacher who explained to me the power of lying still.

She taught me yoga nidra that day, and I was convinced that it saved my life.

For months I would practice lying around and sinking into myself every time I felt light headed. This ended up being eight or 10 times a day. It seems crazy now, but for a year I basically did this practice off and on all day long.

I not only believed it would work—I could actually feel it working.

The practice involved moving through the five aspects of the self and observing them: body, breath, thoughts, unconscious mind, and heart.

As I touched in with each, I allowed myself to observe them without an agenda. I could feel myself obtaining balance. This balance applied to my specific disease, as well as, all of the other issues in my system. I became not only healthier, but a nicer person—partially because I was less reactive and partially because my systems were now communicating efficiently.

That’s what it felt like, anyway.

That was 15 years ago. I am now a (healthy) full time Yoga Therapist. I have a few different intellectual reasons why yoga nidra saved my life but I think I’m better off bringing myself back in time and remembering the feeling of just lying there, completely relaxed and blissful, allowing the world to work on me like the most skilled surgeon might.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all remember these times when we just let go and allowed things to work themselves out? And wouldn’t it be even better if this became a habit? A practice?

We see hints that we should do this all the time. Our doctors and therapists tell us to engage in “stress management.” Our family and friends suggest we take breaks, go on vacation, stop worrying. We know that all this stress and busyness is in the way of our natural ability to be healthy. Yet we have trouble remembering what to do to get there.

My hope is that we may all just stop what we are doing once a day. Lie down—take a breath and feel the body relax. No spa, extensive training, or super powers required—just a little advice from a well-meaning, formally sick Yoga Therapist.






Author: Brandt Passalacqua

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: kimonomania at Flickr 

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Geertje Hof Feb 5, 2016 12:47pm

Inspired by your story. I have a traumatic brain injury (tbi) and practiociner of yoga and meditation long before the tbi. Yoga Nidra became a daily ritual, for better sleep at first. Eventually I’ll follow and iRest Yoga Nidra TT so I can teach it to other people with tbi. The awareness and synchronizing it all is such an important aspect. How beautifully ‘simple’ it is to just breathe, slow down and doing nothing and how important it is! Thank you for sharing

Brandt Passalacqua Feb 4, 2016 5:46pm

Hi Amanda,

I’m so glad to hear it’s going so well for you. And now in a TT – fantastic!

FYI – I have an online course on how to deeply balance yourself through practice – it’s free for yoga teachers and TT’s. It begins on March 1st – you should come!

Sign up here: Breathingdeeply.com/radicallybalancedyogi

Scroll down and you will see a link for studios and teachers.

I would love to meet you

Amanda Martensen Feb 4, 2016 8:39am

Hi Brandt!
I’m so glad to have come across this article and read your story. I was diagnosed with Evan’s Syndrome and ITP about a year ago. I’m been in remission for a few months now and yoga, yoga nidra, and meditation saved my life as well. I’m currently halfway through my RYT 200 hour training. Some days I have my doubts about it… “what if I relapse” or “am I really good enough”. But then I think back to why I’m doing this. To help others heal like yoga helped me. You’re story is inspirational and I’m so glad to hear about your health and success. Best of luck to you in your future!

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Brandt Passalacqua

Brandt Passalacqua is the creator of Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy and Peaceful Weight Loss™ through Yoga. He has been enjoying the healing arts since 2001 after overcoming obesity and a life-threatening autoimmune illness. His practice and teacher trainings integrate Yoga Therapy in the tradition of Krishnamacharya and Structural Yoga Therapy, Thai Yoga Massage, Medical Massage and a variety of meditation lineages.

Find out more at his websites, Peaceful Weight Loss and Breathing Deeply.