Instructor facilitates guided Yoga Nidra meditation via Zoom

The April 16 webinar promoted healing and resilience through mindful meditation. It was a planned SAAM event. Photo credit: Simon Abrams for

Daniel Suarez Jr., Staff Writer

A Zoom meeting of about a dozen participants was guided on April 22 through an iRest meditation facilitated by certified yoga therapist and Cerritos College instructor Laurie Angress.

The roughly 45-minute session was one of several events scheduled for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this one focused on promoting inner healing and resilience through deep relaxation and meditation.

iRest meditation, founded by clinical psychologist Richard C. Miller, is generally practiced laying down or sitting comfortably.

This modern adaptation of the ancient Hindu meditation practice of Yoga Nidra has been adopted by veterans with PTSD and recovering addicts, citing reduced stress and better sleep according to Yoga Journal.

“I believe that all of the practices of yoga, because there’s many beyond just stretching, are tools for nervous system regulation and getting to know ourselves on a deeper level,” says Angress, who is currently in her fourth year teaching at Cerritos.

In addition to her private practice as a yoga therapist, Angress is a certified iRest teacher as of 2017, where she began incorporating these newer methods with her students and clients.

She also hosts free meditations over Zoom every Thursday night at 7.

In the workshop, Angress breaks down the human body to five sheaths or layers, similar to those Russian nesting dolls.

These layers are known as the five Koshas of our existence, including Awareness, Intellect, Thoughts, Life Force and the Physical Body. They are the central dogma of iRest meditation.

“Transitioning into stillness, settle into this moment and feel,” Angress said as she rang a handheld chime. “Open all the senses, feel the touch of air on the skin.”

The guided meditation encouraged participants to invoke blissful memories like a particular beach, sharing company with friends or listening to nature sounds.

One participant said that her “peace” was talking with her grandmother.

“Feel my words as if they’re your own,” Angress said, “let the tension drip down the arm to the left palm, let it rest in its own weight.”

Her steady and rhythmic voice commands assessed the human body piece by piece, instructing the class to feel both tension and comfort, heaviness and lightness.

When Angress rang the chime a second time, she informed the Zoom meeting that “the practice of iRest is now complete.”

Free online yoga sessions are currently broadcasting on a number of social media platforms including Instagram and Facebook Live, where Yoga teachers frequently post recordings and live webinars of guided sessions.

Since Governor Newsom enacted the March 19 Stay-at-Home order to limit the spread of COVID-19 in California, community colleges and universities have closed their doors and converted fully to online instruction.

As thousands of Cerritos College students and faculty adapt to the new normal, Angress advises her yoga students to “practice daily mindfulness and to limit time spent on social media,” all in order to cope with the daily stressors of working—or not working—at home.

Throughout Wednesday’s meeting, Angress repeated this Yoga Nidra mantra: “Your essential nature is an unchanging quality of being and wholeness.”

According to the Cerritos College online calendar, there will be another Zoom meeting led by Yoga instructor Cindy Zackney on April 28 at 11 a.m.