Tag Archives: Kelly McGrath

My Next Chapter

Integrative Restoration InstituteSo I wanted to fill you in on what I’ve been up to. Im coming from Kripalu, where I’ve completed my Level 1 iRest®Yoga Nidra training with Richard Miller and am fascinated by what I’ve learned.

Yoga Nidra is loosely translated to “the sleep of the yogi”, and refers to a meditative technique that allows the practitioner to lie down and make themselves as comfortable as possible, allowing for any and all props to improve comfort, including blocks, pillows, blankets, etc… The teacher then guides the practitioners through a guided meditation for the duration of the session, directing their attention to different areas of the body.

I began my yoga studies back in 1999 with Joan Ruvinksy, who, with Richard Miller, studied under Jean Klein, and who introduced Yoga Nidra very early on into our classes together. I later came back to the Yoga Nidra practice with Level 1 iRest®Yoga Nidra trained Teacher Kelly McGrath, whose classes slowly led me right up to my training. As one who has practiced Yoga Nidra, I simply related to the sense of peace and relaxation the practice brought back to me, but little did I know or fully comprehend the science behind iRest®Yoga Nidra or how it could potentially change the lives of other.

As taken directly from the Integrative Restoration Institute’s website, “iRest Yoga Nidra, one of the principal programs offered by IRI, is a research-based transformative practice of deep relaxation and meditative inquiry that:

– releases negative emotions and thought patterns
– calms the nervous system
– develops a deep capacity to meet any and all circumstances you may encounter in life

Research has shown that iRest Yoga Nidra effectively reduces:

PTSD
Depression
Anxiety
Insomnia
Chronic pain
Chemical dependency”

One of my main motivators to study and teach yoga was, from the start, to help people heal, but I had no idea when I registered for this training that I would be passed on tools to practically and peacefully help people. I now feel ready and galvanized to apply the techniques and the science behind them to not only offer relaxation to people, but to potentially aid in pre and post-partum depression, in helping people make up for sleep debt, and to generally bring people to a place of peace. As taken again from the IRI website, “People using iRest report:

Decreased stress, anxiety, fear and depression
Decreased insomnia and sleep disturbances
Decreased perception of chronic and acute pain
Improved interpersonal relations
Increased energy levels
Increased sense of control in their lives
More confidence and joy in their lives
Greater sense of peace and well-being
iRest programs are typically taught as a guided meditation. Students can expect to lie down or sit comfortably during the practice. It is comprised of the following:

Development of intention
Body sensitivity training
Breath and energy awareness
Systematic neutralization of:
Negative body sensations and stress
Negative feelings & emotions
Negative beliefs, images and memories
The experience of joy and well-being
Freedom from the sense of separation generated by the senses and mind
The ability to experience peace amidst the changing circumstances of life

I am unbelievably honoured to have had the opportunity to study this past week with Richard, his assistants, and the wonderful group of students who joined us at Kripalu. I am ready to bring this new phase of my intention and my life to those who feel they might benefit from what I’ve learned. I will from this day on be offering Individual iRest®Yoga Nidra Sessions (Dyads) as well as group iRest®Yoga Nidra sessions. Please, feel free to contact me for more information or to arrange a session. This training has taken me a step further along my Dharmic path, and I would be honoured to have you be a part of it.

Winding Down

I’ve just lay down on the couch with the winter storm wind howling past the windows of my flat and my dog curled up asleep against my legs. Today marks the end of in-class teaching for me for 2012, and the past few days I’ve felt this post taking form in my mind. Now feels like the right time to get it all down and attach the symbology of words to it.

This year has proven to be another massive opportunity for growth and learning, and as each year passes, I realize that that is what’s constantly available to us: the opportunity to view all that occurs in our lifetime as catalysts for growth and change. I do my best to ensure that every class I teach, every student I mentor, and every word I speak or write conveys certain things to those with whom my path crosses: that yoga is a big toolbox that provides us with what we need to live life fully, passionately, with full awareness and presence of mind…that we have the choice as to how we approach and end up living this life we’ve been blessed with…that how and where we find ourselves is exactly how and where we need to be to accomplish and fulfill our goals and dharma. We are each here for a reason – you are not reading this by accident, and you are not alive in this moment in time haphazardly. We each have a mission to carry out, and I believe that mine is to bring people together by waking them up to what matters on a fundamental, heartfelt level.

20121222-171342.jpgWith that said, I would get nothing communicated or expressed if no one thought me worthy of their time and attention. I’ve expressed my gratitude to students before, but this year has brought me to a place where simple gratitude pales in comparison to how I feel about those of you who encourage me to keep teaching, typing, and barreling onwards.

To those of you who have come to my classes, I thank you. To those of you who have joined me on retreats, I thank you. To those of you who have participated in the workshops and teacher training I’ve given, I thank you. To those of you who have followed my blog and taken the time to read my words, I thank you. To those of you who have taken any of my insight to heart and let it guide you closer to a place of truth and light, I thank you. To those of you who have laughed with me, I thank you. To those of you who have let down your guard and shared your stories, your suffering, your hopes and your journeys, I thank you. To those of you who have trusted me enough to come to me when it mattered, I thank you. To those of you who have taught me when you had no idea you were doing so, I thank you. To those of you whom I’ve disappointed and had enough respect and love for me to let me know the error of my ways, I thank you. To those of you who have let me assist in your healing, I thank you. To those of you who have shared your energy with me, I thank you. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and will never stop doing so.

To my teachers who have provided me space in their spheres of wisdom, namely Joan Ruvinsky, Jennifer Maagandans, Mark Darby, Kelly McGrath, Sharon Gannon, and David Life, I thank you. With my head bowed in humility and my heart open to learning, I thank you.

My path has been and continues to be blessed with messengers and bearers of light, and my hope is that in attempting to do them justice by passing on the wisdom bestowed upon them by their teachers, I can reflect and project that light as brightly and brilliantly as they do.

Without them, and without you all, I would merely be speaking words into empty space.

With love and heartfelt gratitude for you all, I wish you the brightest, happiest and healthiest of holidays. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey, and we’ll see where it takes us in 2013!

Full Circle

My yoga practice started in 1999 when I found my guru living directly across the street from me. Joan Ruvinsky introduced me to my first yoga classes, which incorporated everything from inspirational discussions at the start of class to the most illuminating of approaches to the practice, including Body Sensing and Yoga Nidra. What really resounded with me were the Yoga Nidra sessions where we would lie down in Savasana after making ourselves as comfortable as possible with pillows, bolsters and blankets, and then allow our bodies to fall asleep while our minds stayed alert and focused on the teacher’s voice as she guided us through a meditation. Yoga Nidra is often defined as “yogic sleep”, and the whole exercise consists of letting the body relax and let go while conditioning the mind to not do the same. Every Yoga Nidra experience I have ever had has felt like an awakening, a realization of something I had always suspected was true, but had never encountered. Joan first introduced me to the experience, and her classes were beacons of peace for me when things were volatile in my life, and she gave me the yogic platform from which I have bounded off of in search of all things yoga.

That search led me to train in, practice, and teach different, more physical types of yoga, but my roots lie in yoga as less of a physical practice and more of a spiritual and sensory experience. After my yoga retreat in Croatia was over this past September, I came across a session-based Yoga Nidra class led by Montreal-based yoga teacher Kelly McGrath and jumped at the chance to be a part of it. Bringing my studies back to where I started felt like a natural progression for me, and once I had registered for the class, I then registered for the Yoga Nidra Level 1 Training at the Kripalu Center so I could learn how to bring that sense of peace and connection that I had felt during classes to others.

At my first class with Kelly, she asked those of us in attendance to take a moment and write down why we were there that evening – what we hoped to gain, what our intention was. That question and the reasons for asking it ended up following me around for the next few weeks. I really became fascinated with the concept of asking myself what my intention was during any given moment during my day…why I felt inclined to speak to certain people, why I wanted to practice yoga, why I was eating whatever I found myself eating. It all came to a head when I got into bed one night early because I was exhausted from the previous few days and subsequently spent the next 30 minutes thinking and analyzing and essentially doing everything except falling sleep. When I realized that I wasn’t getting to sleep any earlier than I had intended to, I stopped the whirling of thoughts in my mind by asking myself, “Why did I got to bed early?” The answer was immediate, “Because I need to rest”…and it served to stop the whirling of mental activity until I was sleeping within minutes.

When we take a moment to examine why we do what we do, the benefits are many: we immediately bring ourselves into the present moment. We break the cycle of spending all our mental time in the past or future, going over what has already happened or trying to foresee what will, and we find ourselves where we are, with full awareness and connection to our immediate environment. We also end up with a measurable goal: if I can find the presence of mind to ask myself why I’m in bed early and I can come up with the answer telling me I need to rest, then I can start moving towards that rest. That goal immediately becomes a priority and everything else, all the mindless chatter, falls into the background. Basically, we start living more consciously and aware when we ask ourselves why.

I urge you to put this to the test: apply the “why” to whatever you’re doing right now. And then bring it to the next thing you end up doing. And keep going. It could potentially change who you are and how you see yourself. Or, at the very least, you may just end up falling asleep earlier this evening. Either way, it’s time well spent.

I’ll continue my studies in Yoga Nidra and continue to report my experiences here. Until then, I urge you to check out the Yoga Nidra Workshop that Kelly is giving this Sunday afternoon, November 25th, from 1pm-4pm at United Yoga Montreal. If you go, let me know how it went – I’ll be missing it unfortunately, but I can guarantee that you’ll be blown away by it 🙂