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Integrative Restoration - Richard Miller and the Birth of iRest
“In the end, we recognize how simple life is when we accept this moment, just as it is, without pretending to be other than who we are. This is grace in action and the culmination of Integrative Restoration therapy, or iRest.”
This is how Richard Miller, founder of the Integrative Restoration Institute summarizes iRest, his adaptation and modernization of the ancient science of yoga nidra.
And of course, Richard Miller, one of the country’s leading yoga therapists, knows what he is talking about. Richard Miller is one of the co-founders of the International Association of Yoga Therapy (IAYT), and is widely credited for his work to make the therapeutic benefits of yoga more widely available, not ‘just’ to yoga practitioners, but in health care settings as well.
Miller’s own yoga journey began with his own spiritual quest. According to Miller, after studying Viniyoga in India for five years, he still hadn’t found the answers he was looking for. Despite his commitment to learning and to the yogic tradition, he was no closer to the deep spiritual insights he had set out to gain. That changed in 1984 when Miller met his spiritual mentor, a teacher of advaita nondualism named Jean Klein. Under his guidance, Miller had an epiphany that led to a radical re-assessment of his worldview and, eventually, the establishment of his own practice: a modernized form of the ancient meditative practice yoga nidra, which he dubbed Integrative Restoration (iRest).
What Miller realized was the principle of non-dualism: what yogis call advaita, which literally means “not two.” Recognizing the interdependency of all things led Miller to greater empathy and inner peace, and he sought to re-create the experience for other people. This led to the development of Integrative Restoration (iRest). Through breathing techniques, guided meditations and yoga nidra, practitioners work to release negative thought patterns, calm the nervous system and develop an “inner sanctuary” of well-being and equanimity.
iRest may be a specialized type of yoga, but it has broad applications. The Integrative Restoration Institute website boasts success with a variety of patients: children, expectant mothers, people with chronic pain and even veterans suffering from PTSD. Based on his work with clients, Miller has found that Integrative Restoration can help to reduce numerous health issues, including depression, insomnia, and chemical dependency, as well as teach people to manage physical pain. Integrative Restoration has a life outside yoga studios and meditation centers, and can be integrated in diverse settings such as homeless shelters and clinics.
Perhaps what makes iRest so universal is the principle of “welcoming”—that is, accepting and not avoiding what causes suffering. Participants are encouraged to sit with their pain (be it physical, emotional or both), experience it as a pure sensation and to react to it with thoughtfulness and “right action.” Through the development of intention and the honing of body/mind sensitivity, practitioners learn to cultivate joy and well-being.
Currently, Richard Miller’s Integrative Restoration Institute offers three levels of teacher certification, as well as nationwide events, conferences and teleconferences. Miller continues to lecture and teach around the country. He remains dedicated to spreading the word about the healing power of Integrative Restoration. To him, it’s simple yet vital, the culmination of “grace in action.”
As successful as Richard has been with the iRest program, the International Association of Yoga Therapy perhaps remains widest-reaching achievement. It’s a professional organization for yoga teachers and therapists across the globe, and today has over 2,500 members. Since its establishment in 1989, the IAYT has championed the therapeutic effects of yoga and served as a comprehensive health resource.
Co-founder of IAYT
Author, Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga