Yoga Nidra: A Safe Relaxation Practice

As a Psychotherapist working with clients who have a history of trauma, anxiety and depression, I actively seek out alternative methods to healing beyond talk therapy.  Several years ago I trained with Amy Weintraub, who created Yoga for Depression (LifeForce Yoga Practitioners training program) and later with Richard Miller (iRest Yoga Nidra) to learn about yogic sleep, a guided meditation that reduces symptoms of trauma, anxiety, depression, insomnia, the negative effects of cancer, eating disorders and more.  It works for children and adults, and has an amazing restorative and relaxing effect on the nervous system.

As a trauma-informed yoga teacher, it is vital to ensure a safe setting for yoga students.  When I refer clients to yoga in my psychotherapy practice, I refer them directly to teachers and studios that are trauma-informed.  This means ideas such as teaching the difference between a good stretch and pain, utilizing verbal cues and direction as well as asking permission and letting the student know how you are asking to touch them rather than immediately going for a hands-on adjustment, allowing open eyes and softening the gaze (drishti) rather than requiring eyes closed, reminding the class that it is not about competition with others but more about tuning in to their own bodies and listening to what they need and don’t need for class that day.  Yoga Nidra is a wonderful way to practice tuning in to the body and mind and finding out at an individual what works for you, while being in a group setting.

Being part of a group iRest Yoga Nidra practice can decrease the feeling of isolation and loneliness and increase accountability for a self-care practice.  Yoga Nidra is simple in that it only asks the practitioner to sit or lay still while listening to the guide who leads them through the practice.  iRest is a ten-step meditation-based program that utilizes deep relaxation techniques to enhance wellbeing and emotional and mental balance.

SC has worked in social services for over twenty years, She began to study stress and trauma and their effects on the mind and body, and discovered through research and training how the body can heal itself. She was trained in Hatha Yoga at the 200 level and is currently taking a 300 hour Yoga Madre advanced training to complete her 500 hour RYT.  SC has been trained by Richard Miller in Level 1 iRest Yoga Nidra for individuals and groups and she teaches monthly Yoga Nidra workshops that include a mix of asana, meditation, pranayama, monthly themes and guest musicians. She also works individually with clients in LA and Pasadena as a Licensed Psychotherapist working with trauma and substance abuse, integrating prescriptive yoga and meditation into the healing process.


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