'Nidra' is sanskrit for 'sleep', and what we do when practicing iRest can look a lot like sleep. You relax your body so deeply that it's like your body is asleep, but your mind is awake and alert. For the most part anyway! It's not unusual to fall asleep in a yoga nidra practice, and if this happens, then that's really fine.... perhaps it's what you most needed from the practice. Often people in my courses find that they sleep through the first few weeks, and then once they've caught up on their sleep debt, they find themselves awake in the latter weeks (or they decide to sit up, or lie in a different way, so they don't fall asleep).
In the practice of iRest Yoga Nidra, I take you through a journey through the koshas (layers). Let me outline it briefly for you now:
- You state your intention for the practice
- You state your heartfelt desires (what you want more than anything from this life)
- I guide you to cultivate your inner resource, a place within that brings a sense of security, ease and wellbeing. This is important as the practice can be quite confronting at times, and the inner resource is a place to come back to if the practice (or life) feels too overwhelming
- Scan and sense the body
- Tune into the natural rhythm of the breath
- Welcome feelings and emotions (including opposites)
- Welcome thoughts and beliefs (including opposites)
- Experience an inner sense of joy, happiness, well being or perhaps a sense of being ok just as you are
- Cultivate witnessing awareness (witnessing your experiences)
- Rest in pure awareness (the part of you that is always at peace and always at ease)
- Integrate this all back into your daily life
In my classes and workshops I spend some time discussing these different components, and there is an opportunity to discover how these teachings are relevant to YOUR life (e.g. what are your heartfelt desires?). We then dive into the practical, experiential component, because it's not enough to just talk about this stuff, we have to DO IT! And the practice of iRest yoga nidra really supports us to embody the wisdom, rather than just intellectualise it.
iRest Yoga Nidra is similar to the more traditional practice of yoga nidra, however it is somewhat more psychologically minded. My teacher Richard Miller, who is a clinical psychologist and yogic scholar, developed iRest Yoga Nidra, and has dedicated the past 40 years of his life to studying, practicing, teaching and researching yoga nidra. And the outcome of his decades of work, is Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra (iRest).
iRest has the support of both the yogic community and the scientific community, as the teachings are firmly grounded in ancient yogic wisdom, and contemporary research has shown it to be effective in increasing inner peace and well-being, reducing depression, fear, trauma and anxiety, increasing our ability to relax and enjoy life, reducing insomnia and levels of stress, improving interpersonal relations, and reducing chronic and acute pain.
And it really is easy! This is one thing that I particularly love about iRest. It is easy. Meditation doesn't have to hard (it's true)!
So if you feel called to try iRest, check out my workshop and course page for all the up to date information. I teach in my hometown of Mullumbimby and around the world (as I'm writing this I'm planning workshops in Brisbane, Amsterdam and Copenhagen in the coming months).
Hope to see you soon,