iRest Yoga Nidra: the foundation for Visiting Feelings

iRest Yoga Nidra is a 4,000 year-old old form of meditation that allows us to connect with the stillness and peace that is always present within.  This research-based transformative practice of deep relaxation and meditative inquiry:

  • releases negative emotions and thought patterns
  • calms the nervous system
  • develops a deep capacity to meet any and all circumstances that may arise in life

Children’s iRest is a wonderfully creative assemblage of activities which use the senses as the doorways to children’s development of lifelong skills. Flexibility underlies the beauty of iRest. The various components can be tailored to meet the needs of children of all ages, and easily blend into the regular array of classroom activities. For example, while studying the human body, iRest BodySensing is introduced using the five senses, each sense becoming a portal for sensing the entire body.

Ingredients of iRest for Children:

  • Intention
  • Heartfelt Desire
  • Inner Resource—Safe Place
  • BodySensing
  • BreathSensing
  • Experiencing Feelings, Emotions and their opposites
  • Experiencing Beliefs, images and memories and their opposites
  • Experiencing Joy and well-being
  • Experiencing Silence
  • Experiencing Pure Awareness
  • Children’s Literature

iRest teaches children about emotions and beliefs through hands-on activities and literature. During a year-long iRest program in a Kindergarten classroom in California, children’s senses were developed and refined through sequential exercises with sensorial materials that range in weight, texture, temperature, color, sound and smell. An array of smiley faces offers opportunities to explore and experience emotions and beliefs in a safe and constructive environment. Children gain experience in locating emotions in their body as tactile sensation, discovering various kinesthetic qualities of emotions (sharp, smooth, rough, prickly, hot, cold, etc.). They develop vocabulary while describing, discussing, and respectfully expressing their emotions.  They discover opposite emotions (positive and negative) as well as beliefs associated with their emotions.

An eating exercise explores and enlivens the sense of taste.  Children connect emotions and memories awakened by the tastes. Having children listen to the gentle ringing sound of a meditation bowl develops and heightens their sense of hearing. Essential oils stimulate and develop the olfactory sense of smell. Vanilla, for example, often awakens memories of baked goods, holidays, and warm, pleasurable feelings.

Movement is another entry point that iRest develops and refines through BodySensing.  A favorite game of children is to imagine that they are snowflakes, dancing and falling from the sky, softly landing on the ground, and slowly melting into motionless stillness.

The breath (BreathSensing) offers another portal. Once the children are settled in comfortable positions, they place a small stuffed animal on their stomachs and are invited to gently rock the animal to sleep with the rise and fall of each breath.

As children become sensitive to their internal environment they become aware of subtle sensations such as “tingling” or flows of “energy” coursing through their body. They often express wonder and delight when they discover their bodies as systems of energy.  A foundation in BodySensing benefits children in many ways. It’s an excellent tool children can use when, for example, they feel “nervous” energy in their bodies. Simple question such as, “What are you are feeling right now?” or, “Where in your body do you feel it?” or, “Can you describe it?” help cultivate the child’s self-awareness. In the process, children also develop skillfulness in describing their immediate experience. When they encounter strong emotions within themselves or another, they are able to locate the emotion in their body and describe in detail the type and texture of the emotion.

iRest is a wonderful tool to help students explore their feelings, emotions, thoughts and states of mind.  iRest does not impose, but rather gently guides children to come to their own understanding and resolution, in their own way. This helps them build self-esteem and their ability to find solutions to the problems they encounter in life.

Adapted from 


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