By Pamela Stokes Eggleston, MBA, RYT
Recently I completed a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) in the Pranakriya™ tradition. I’ve practiced yoga for about 11 years now, and I personally experienced its benefits when I hit my mat on a regular basis – deeper sleep, less stress and weight management. I was ecstatic to finally take the plunge to give up several months of my life for YTT. Not everyone got it and that was to be expected. No matter: my husband was supportive, along with my BFF, sister and sister-in-law who incidentally introduced me to yoga. Since then, I’ve practiced yoga, consistently and not so much.
I was compelled to return to yoga on a regular basis when my husband served during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and returned home as a wounded warrior. Our sleep was nonexistent because of his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and my subsequent secondary post traumatic stress (PTS), a condition not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but that has symptoms that can mirror PTSD. It is hard to explain unless you’ve been there, but basically it can manifest when someone becomes the caregiver of a veteran or service member suffering from visible and/or invisible wounds (e.g., PTSD, TBI) of war. I took Ambien to get through my days, sacrificing good REM 4 sleep and my capacity to dream, later realizing that once I stopped taking it, I wouldn’t get a decent night’s sleep for days. Although I kept creating reasons for why I was too busy for yoga, I knew something had to change.
I started a regular focused yoga practice to gain respite and relaxation from this hectic time. I returned to my sense of self, surpassing what I thought that was for me. Yoga brought peace and serenity back into my life. I could exhale slowly and with purpose. Clarity came to me like the rising sun. I began to see what my calling was and what do to about it. I began to meet people who later became close friends and confidants and who allowed me to discover my passion. All of this led me to YTT to understand what it had to offer, nothing more. Little did I know that this experience would be a game changer for me in the deepest sense.
Of course my transformational journey brought out the naysayers. Why are you doing it? Isn’t yoga devil worship? Are you really that good of a yogi? What will you do with it once you are finished? Ummm…teach yoga? At first, this was annoying. My YTT instructors told me that we would be open to both positive and negative energy, more so than normal. At the time I thought this may occur but not really; certainly not like I’ve experienced up to this moment. So I have chalked this ignorance up as just that – those who don’t truly know me or know the wonders of yoga. It’s fine, because not only will I use my YTT journey to teach, but to speak about my insomnia, my life as the spouse and caregiver of a wounded warrior, and how it helped me return to my truest self. I will use this gift to help others who may not know that yoga can help with sleep, rest and relaxation; for these and other reasons, to get the best life has to offer. People will always be there to doubt and wonder why. I know now that I can rise above it all.