A friend recently shared an inspiring story of how he overcame his difficulties with insomnia through the practice of Ananda Yoga.
Matthew attended our most recent session of Ananda Yoga Teacher Training at The Expanding Light Retreat. He openly shared with the group that he had been an Infantry Marine about 10 years prior, and had been deployed twice to Iraq. He confessed that since that time he hadn’t been able to sleep without the aid of alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs, marijuana, or more recently, CBD. While at Ananda, he courageously embarked on a journey toward self-healing.
Matthew’s first few evenings were extremely difficult. He lay awake all night frustrated and upset until the sun rose.
Naturally, he was incredibly tired during the first few days of the teacher training program.
Finally, Matthew decided to speak with one of the yoga instructors about his struggles. Then, something began to shift for him. He explained, “I started to trust that my yoga practice was going to help me fall asleep.”
The next night Matthew fell asleep much more easily. To his surprise, he found himself waking up to bright sunlight shining into his room. He was amazed when he realized it was 7:45am! He had slept through the entire night! He shared this news with tears of joy to all of his classmates and instructors.
Naturally, we all burst into exuberant applause!
Later when I asked Matthew what had shifted in his relationship towards sleep, he responded:
“I believe the shift came from my full commitment to yoga. I was no longer practicing just a few times a week but every day, completely trusting it would get me back to my center”.
“I also started to use the AUM-Tat-Sat* technique before bed, as well as making sure to attend the before-dinner sadhana (spiritual practices). The Energization Exercises combined with Ananda Yoga helped me release the physical and mental tension I had been holding onto. I also prayed quite a bit, especially during the days that I felt sleep-deprived.
Overall, my outlook changed in that I started to trust yoga and all of the teachings. Not just the poses, but everything I was learning during YTT.”
Matthew reports that he is sleeping well now, and has very pleasant dreams.
He is finding a lot of joy in teaching yoga four times a week at a studio near his home.
Yoga works most effectively when we commit ourselves to the practices.
Regularity in our efforts enables us to make many positive changes in our lives—such as restructuring unhelpful patterns, overcoming fears, and releasing our grip on attachments that are no longer serving us. We find great freedom in letting go. This is why yoga is extremely effective for reducing the tendency toward insomnia (or eliminating it altogether). Yoga allows us to observe where we’re holding on to excess tension and then consciously release it.
Matthew’s example is one of many that we have the honor of witnessing here at The Expanding Light Retreat all year-round. It is a place that is designed to facilitate the experience of inner freedom.
Footnote: *(AUM-Tat-Sat is an exercise taught by Paramhansa Yogananda for protection and strengthening of one’s aura. The practice is to make large circles of light around the body, joining the hands in front and then behind, while chanting AUM-TAT-SAT, which represents the holy trinity in Hinduism).