Restful Being offers yoga classes in Oxford, yoga nidra classes in London and yoga nidra training across the UK, as well as retreats and workshops worldwide. Our principal teacher is James Reeves, a yoga teacher since 2005 who today is one of Europe's leading yoga nidra teacher-trainers. On this page you'll learn about our philosophy, the practices we incorporate into our teaching, and understand more about what yoga* can do for you.
*The word 'yoga' means very different things to different people, here's our take:
Yoga might not be what you think it is...
At the very core of your being lies an unshakable ground of happiness, wellbeing, peace and ease, and the aim of yoga, however you practice it, is to enable you to experience this aspect of your self. Yoga is not a means to sculpt a strong, flexible body, though this might be an added benefit of some yoga practices (including some of ours).
Yoga is a commitment to seeking out your essential nature and indeed, the essential nature of the world – and the universe – in which we live. Yoga tells you to be here right now just as you are, just as the world is around you. Yoga does not ask you to be better than you already are. Yoga shows you that at your core, you cannot be better than who you already are.
The Peace Paradox
Many of us have caught glimpses of interconnectedness, bliss, calm, ‘beingness,’ ‘OK-ness,’ during or after meditation or yoga practice (or at other times in our lives, often when we’re away from it all - on holiday, for example). However, this often happens seemingly at random, perhaps when we least expect it, and then as soon as we try to access it again we see it slip further and further out of our reach, and before long, we find ourselves striving to find it again. We busy ourselves with the task of finding stillness. We spend hours grappling with often difficult and complex practices that we hope will reveal to us our innate peacefulness.
Unsurprisingly, forcing one’s self to feel peaceful doesn’t really work.
So, what can we do? How can we connect with that part of us which is always OK? What is the simplest way to see that our being is already balanced and already at peace? In a culture where working hard and being the busiest are held up as the path to success, how can we trust that stopping, being, watching, and even ‘sleeping’ offer the most direct path to true contentment?
In an ideal world, we’d all just sit down, take a few breaths, and allow our true nature to reveal itself to us. However, in the real world, we are often too afraid, or too analytical, or too sceptical, to trust in letting go this way. Therefore, at Restful Being, we employ an approach and practices that guide you into the core of your being. We use methods proven by research to help people welcome their deepest, wisest self, and as a result, feel at peace with who they are, where they are and where they might be heading in life. It’s a subtle yet profound transformation, and one open to absolutely everyone.
What dO We Do?
We run weekly yoga classes in Oxford, yoga nidra classes in London, regular workshops and retreats around the UK and Europe, and deliver yoga nidra training in Oxford and London:
Here's an overview of the practices we work with:
The combined practice of asana (postures), breathwork (pranayama) and deep relaxation (yoga nidra).
A transformative state of deep relaxation. The teacher guides you into a conscious yet deep sleep where you are able to access, and learn from, your inner awareness. You will in effect experience a meditative state without having formally ‘meditated’. James Reeves specialises in the iRest Yoga Nidra protocol, created by Richard Miller, PhD, a clinical psychologist, author, researcher, yogic scholar and founder of the Integrative Restoration Institute (IRI). James is the only IRI-sponsored teacher trainer in Europe.
A meditative inquiry practised 1-1. The teacher enables a deep inquiry through a range of prompts, enabling the practitioner to face hidden emotions and then step back to observe them from a place of deep, resolute awareness.
By focusing on the body the mind is calmed and a deep, effortless state of relaxation (or ‘meditation’) occurs. There is no ‘forcing’ of oneself into a relaxed state.
Using various breathing exercises to cleanse and calm the mind and body. The breath is a doorway into stillness; a point from which to enter that which is beyond the breath.
Restful Being was founded by James Reeves:
In 2001 James travelled to India where he had his first and profound experience of yoga. He returned to the country in 2004 to complete his teacher training and has been running his own yoga school ever since. James has studied with a wide range of teachers, taking favourite insights and practices from the schools of Hatha, Tantra, Advaita Vedanta and Sankhya philosophy. He has taken inspiration from Donna Farhi, Mukunda Stiles, Kali Ray and Rod Striker and while his teaching style is a blend of these influences (and more) James’ greatest inspiration has been the work of Richard Miller, PhD. Richard founded the Integrative Restoration Institute (IRI) in the US and established the iRest Yoga Nidra protocol, a system of deep relaxation and meditative inquiry. James is currently the only IRI-sponsored teacher trainer in Europe. He has worked with organizations such as Oxford University, Oxfam and Khiron House Trauma Clinic, and even been jetted off to the Oscars (though not down the red carpet, sadly). James is also a regular teacher of online yoga classes at Ekhart Yoga.
James describes his experiences of discovering yoga and where this has led him:
“In 2001, I was hoodwinked into going to a yoga class. I was a burnt-out software salesman, travelling in India, and I wasn’t the least bit interested. The class went on as many yoga classes do – stretching, bending (or in my case, creaking) ourselves into strange shapes – but it was at the end that something life-changing happened to me. I relaxed. I entered a state of never-before-felt blissful awareness. I had been coerced into meeting my innermost peaceful self...
It took me many years of studying, teaching and experimenting with various forms of yoga, meditation and personal inquiry before I understood who or what this version of me was, and how it was the key to living a balanced, peaceful life. Importantly, this doesn’t mean living a life locked away from real-world challenges – it’s about being able to face every emotion and experience that life throws your way and respond from a place of deep wisdom. Yoga is not a means to check out of life, or escape from the difficulties that inevitably come our way. It is not an excuse to pretend you are happy with the status quo. Yoga is not always calm, yoga is not always peaceful, yoga is not always happy. Yoga does not ask you to understand Sanskrit, or be vegetarian or be flexible and strong. Yoga is a promise to be present with yourself and the world around just as it is right now; a recognition of your being, with no judgement, fear or expectation. When we do this, we see our true selves; we are awareness.”
Associate Teachers and Staff
Gabrielle ('Gabs') Brown, Co-Director
Our resident writer and communications ‘guru’ (this is the only place you’ll see that word on this website) Gabs has worked in publishing and corporate communications since 1999 and has been a dedicated yoga practitioner since 2004, qualifying to teach in early 2013. Her career has involved selling ad-space for Vogue magazine, producing books for Oxford University's Bodleian Library and editing intelligence for a defence company whose clients included MI5 and the Pentagon. In addition, she's written and edited copy for all sorts of businesses, organisations and publications around the world. Gabs completed her 200hr teacher training course at the Arhanta Ashram in India. The same year she travelled to California to study iRest Yoga Nidra with Richard Miller. Gabrielle loves writing about anything complicated, especially emotions and awareness and anything to do with feelings of interconnectedness, and seeing if she can’t jolly well find a simple way of putting it all. In the end, life is a mystery, and the best thing we can do is embrace our mysterious selves within it, however our consciousness chooses to manifest itself and whatever crazy nonsense is going on around us. If we stop fighting ourselves then we can start engaging with the world around us with open eyes, an open heart, and if there’s cake involved, an open mouth.
Wendy Knerr, Associate Teacher
I began practicing hatha yoga more than 20 years ago, with many different teachers from various traditions, including Iyengar yoga and the teachings of New Zealand-based Donna Farhi. In 2005, an Ayurvedic physician prescribed classical yoga nidra for my anxiety and sleep problems, but the practice only took root in my life several years later, when I met James Reeves and he introduced me to the iRest yoga nidra protocol.
Ever since, I’ve had a committed, daily yoga nidra practice, regularly attend iRest classes and retreats in the UK and the US, and am an iRest Teacher-in-Training. I am working towards iRest Certification in 2016.
I offer one-on-one (dyad) sessions as a tool for deep relaxation and self-care, in the Oxford area or anywhere in the world via Skype. And I deliver yoga nidra group sessions. If you are a yoga instructor in or around Oxford and would like to offer your students a taste of yoga nidra, I can lead them in a short (15-20 minute) or full-length (35-40 minute) session.
When I'm not practicing or teaching yoga nidra, I work as a social science researcher with the University of Oxford and with international development agencies, and as a writer and editor. I also walk the beautiful footpaths of Oxfordshire with my husband and our dog, make sourdough bread, and tend ducks. I continue to feel amazed and grateful at the joy, delight and radiant health that iRest practice brings to my life every day.
Naomi Ekers, Associate Teacher
I first came to the postures of yoga on a wii fit console! After many years playing rugby and working as a physiotherapist, I was keen to find ways to keep my body in balance and free from injury. I didn’t realise it would end up being such a life-changing experience. My partner invited me to come along to a yoga class with her that was taught by James and I’ve never looked back. Despite finding the first year or so of shavasana/nidra practice excruciating and wanting to run out the room waving my arms in the air, I persevered. I was surprised at how hard I found it to be calm and still. After a few years of attending class with James, I decided I wanted to spend more time and energy learning about this wonderful, ancient practice. I flew to India and attended a 4-week intensive teacher training course. It was wonderful to be totally immersed in the practice every day, sharing the experience with other yogis and learning more about the philosophy and history of yoga.
In early 2015 I attended the iRest Yoga Nidra Level 1 training with James which was an intriguing journey into my mind. I was really surprised by the colour and intensity of the experiences that arose. I’ve been teaching yoga for 2 years now and although it was initially terrifying, I have found it so fulfilling. I work as a rehabilitation physiotherapist for the majority of my time and share my yoga practice with NHS staff twice a week at present. It has been fantastic to have James as a mentor and I’m continually excited by how there is always more to learn and experience as my body and mind evolve. I strongly believe that if everyone in the world practiced yoga, then most physiotherapists would be out of a job (and the world would be a much more peaceful place!). But for now, that isn’t the case so I enjoy balancing both my professions. I said goodbye to the wii fit board a while back but the yoga practice is here to stay.
Anne Marie Frohock, Associate Teacher
Yoga first came into my life when I was a university fresher accompanying a friend to a 10-week Iyengar course. It then took leave as life busied and passed, until eight years ago as a gym addict my regular pump class was cancelled and I fell through the door of a hatha yoga class instead. Being asked to quieten my mind and feel my body was an alien experience for me, and was initially so difficult I would get up and leave before the final savasana. But then something magical started to happen. My body began to soften, my mind calmed and I relaxed my gruelling gym regime so that I could fit in yoga classes.
In 2010, I moved to Oxford and found James' hatha yoga classes in my first week here. I discovered a wonderful flowing style of yoga that strengthened my body and resolved years of pain associated with scoliosis in my spine. For the fist time in years I felt that I was truly listening to and nourishing my body. Under James' teachings my physical practice has led into the deeper, more spiritual practices of yoga through which I have reconnected with my soul self and authenticity.
In 2016 I completed my 200hr YTT in Hatha Flow yoga, inspired to share with others the practice that has enlightened my life. My classes provide a flowing sequence of asanas through which yogis can learn to feel and integrate movement in their physical body using the breath. This focuses and quietens the mind preparing for meditation, and we are left feeling nourished, rejuvenated and calmed.
I feel that my yoga journey is one with no final destination. I am constantly discovering new aspects that resonate and call to me, and that is what is so wonderful about this ancient practice: the learning is never done.
Sunday Times, Restful Being featured in the Style section's article 'Are You Getting Enough Sleep?'
British Wheel of Yoga magazine, article by James Reeves on yoga nidra
Interview with Emma Watson, Cosmopolitan magazine
Evening Standard feature on yoga nidra
© 2017 Restful Being.