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During one of the most difficult times of my life, I was abruptly abandoned by the person I loved most in the world.
Promises were broken, lives completely upended, and I was left discarded in my own personal hell. Right before the pandemic hit.
For three months, I existed within a hole of despair.
I wasn’t sure I would know how to climb out of the pit.
I tried all the usual tricks and tips—reading, exercising, talk therapy, and sleep. Nothing worked.
I told myself it was a good day when I was able to eat one meal, didn’t dissolve into tears before bedtime, and when I could sleep for at least three hours straight without a nightmare.
I didn’t want to die, but I had no desire to live. I was a walking corpse in my own life.
And then I found yoga nidra.
While reading the book The Body Keeps Score, I discovered a chapter devoted to yoga and the healing of trauma.
Yoga has always intrigued me and interested me. Due to past religious beliefs and dogma as well as images of yogis I had in my mind, I never believed I was the right kind of yoga person. I was unaware of the science behind this mindful practice.
I was desperate for anything to help me—and at this point, I would have tried anything.
The first time I stepped onto my own personal yoga mat and spent a half hour working through my emotions with my breath and body, I felt relief. The aliveness and energy and peace I craved were restored.
Maybe I didn’t have the perfect yoga body I imagined I should have for this practice. But, I had limbs that could move with my breath and that was perfect enough. I knew in my bones this is where I could find my healing. Yoga is for everyone.
In my practice, I discovered powerful, deep meditation through yoga nidra: yogic sleep.
I am no stranger to meditation, hypnosis, or mindfulness. However, during my first time lying on my yoga mat in complete stillness led through a session by Kamini Desai, I descended into one of the deepest states of relaxation I have ever experienced. The restorative calm from that meditation stayed with me all day. Not only did I have an appetite afterward, but I slept more soundly that night and my bad dreams did not haunt me for once.
I couldn’t wait to try it again. Pretty soon, a daily yoga nidra session became part of my routine. I was climbing out of the pit of despair and the sun was shining again. I felt calmer, I could be present with my children, I made career and life decisions that were finally for me, and I started creatively writing again—while the world was falling apart around us.
It is an overwhelming experience to have a peaceful heart while a storm is raging around you. And now I know that it is possible.
Yoga Nidra has taught me a few important lessons in my practice over the past year.
1. Yoga is for everyone. As long as you can breathe, you can do yoga.
2. Your body remembers. As your daily home, you hold feelings and trauma within your tissues, your skin, your bones, your DNA. Moving with your breath and descending into deep relaxation can help release trapped emotions and samskaras that you may not even subconsciously be aware of. For those of us who have done talk therapy without success, this is a huge relief. It can be traumatic to discuss trauma.
3. The emotional benefits of yoga nidra have helped me to let go of past traumas, heal family relationships, ground deeply within my core nature, and develop boundaries that keep me true to who I am.
Abandonment was death for me. It was the death of the old me—the me that needed external love and validation from another person to be whole.
Yoga nidra taught me that I have all I need within me to help me tap into and realize my actual Self—beyond body and mind.
It is easier now to trust my intuition to lead me toward situations that are more in alignment with who I am. I am less afraid of being abandoned. I know I will never again compromise who I am or abandon myself.
I have all I need to be whole right now.
Yoga nidra saved my life.