Yoga Nidra with Fire Station 34
When mother nature rages and roars with blazing flames, it is our first responders who we depend on to keep us safe. Wildfires are an extremely common natural disaster in this beautiful state of California that I have the privilege of living in for the past 5 years.
As I write this, we are actually in the midst of a state of emergency due to ravaging wildfires burning through northern AND southern California.
Firefighters have been fulfilling their civic duties for over 330 years and protecting the lives and properties of our communities. Not only do they fight fires, but they also have a much wider range of responsibilities than many people realize. They are first on the scene of vehicle accidents, rescue patrons from risky situations and also investigate the causes of fires. Essentially they must be prepared for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING at ANYTIME.
These long and demanding shifts that they are required to work end up taking a major toll on their minds and their bodies over the course of their entire career. Also it is an extremely physically demanding occupation and their health and wellness NEEDS to be a priority.
The lifespan of a firefighter is on average 10-15 years less than non- firefighters. They face higher cancer risks due to toxic chemical exposure, risks of contagious disease and heart disease....AND they still choose this JOB. It sounds pretty crazy that someone would choose this as their career path, right!?!? I truly believe that it isn't a JOB - it is a Joy Of Being. This is a calling...A TRUE path and a life's purpose that chooses them. It is GRACE.
In my 17 year career of nursing, I've come to know many firefighters as they make frequent stops to the emergency room where I work. I've always had a huge place in my heart for them and I am beyond grateful for the selfless service that they do.
This past February I completed a Yoga Nidra Meditation training with Jana Roemer and I immediately saw clearly the importance of this practice as preventative healthcare and a mind-body therapy that could help my firefighter friends. The hardest part would be convincing them.
Yoga Nidra is a powerful ancient healing and restorative practice with many health benefits that are desirable for everyone. It acts a a reset button for your life that will guide you to deep states of calm, moving your mind and body from fight or flight to rest and digest. It counteracts stress and is prescribed by general practitioners in many countries. It also provides effective relief for depression and long standing anxiety, releases tension in the body and mind, increases intuition, creativity and happiness. The number one reason that I am pushing these guys to participate is it improves sleep and reduces insomnia. Which is a HUGE issue for firefighters given the amount of continuous hours that they work. Thirty minutes of Yoga Nidra is equal to two hours of sleep and one hour is equal to four hours. You get where I am going with this!!! They NEED this.
Most of the firefighters that come to the hospital where I work know that I am a yoga teacher and many of them enter the ER greeting me with "Namaste Jess" with hands in prayer position. Always followed up with a little chuckle and sneer of course. I would give advice, invite them to my public classes and even offered to come to their firehouse. We would joke and play around about the idea, and I even asked who I could talk to from the higher ups to make it happen.
Well, here we are nine months later and someone finally took the bait.
The guys at LA City Station 34 said YES to the journey and last Monday myself and two friends headed to South Central. With yoga mats and cushions in tow we were greeted by eight very kind and eager young men. I had sent a prior email with my bio and a short description of Yoga Nidra but no one ever actually understands until they have their own experience.
The biggest obstacle was the high chance that they would get a call during the meditation. We settled in and chatted for a while and sure enough.....the bells started ringing. A couple of the guys had to leave and The Practice of Yoga Nidra began. It was a true test for me as a guide, as I had never led this practice with so many disruptions. The guys returned and quickly dropped in and then the doorbell rang. A couple of other guys had to leave and we continued. I was steady in my lead and surprisingly, I was not pulled out of my flow at all. As always with everything in life, there will be outside distractions and it is how you react to them that keeps your inner world steady and calm.
It gave me so much joy to watch them all so calm and collected. I must say that the highlight of the evening was one of the guys actually discovering his third eye!
After the practice came to an end, I could see a difference. They all had very nice feedback and I was happy to share with them the different apps that have recordings they could listen to on their own.
I am extremely grateful for the magic that this Medicine of Stillness has brought to my life and I hope to give them another dose in the very near future.