MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Patricia Padgett discovered integrative, restorative yoga nidra, also known as iRest, at a four-day retreat in 2010, where she met the man who developed the practice, Dr. Richard Miller.
“I was sold, hooked,” she said. “On my way home, I found the holy grail for stress management.”
Padgett worked for Semper Fit at the time, but she is now a health educator and registered nurse for Navy Health Clinic Quantico, where stress management is part of her job, and where she rolled out an iRest program last month.
The practice has been endorsed by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, among other ailments, and Padgett said it also helps alleviate anger, anxiety, hypersensitivity, insomnia, chronic pain and chemical dependency.
After she introduced the clinic’s behavioral health staff to iRest, she was approved to get training last summer, and the program was approved in May. Three of the weekly sessions have already been held, and Padgett said she has gotten positive feedback from those who have participated.
“It’s a mindful meditation to reduce physical, emotional and mental stress,” she said.
As the facilitator, Padgett guides participants, who lie on mats with eyes closed, through deep breathing and progressive relaxation exercises. She asks them to call up emotions they’re dealing with while keeping themselves detached from these feelings.
“For a lot of folks, when you validate how they feel, that’s all they really need,” Padgett said. “The goal is to learn how to relax in any situation, how to center one’s self.”
Everyone has a safe, confident center that people often lose touch with as they grow up, she said, adding that iRest helps participants to rediscover that innate sense of calm and security.
The Behavioral Health Clinic has begun referring patients to iRest, but Padgett said the program is open to all Tricare Prime beneficiaries 18 and older who are enrolled with the Quantico clinic and its satellites. She said she’s also been recommending it to patients who are trying to quit smoking.
The Department of Defense is especially interested in the practice as a way to manage post-traumatic stress, though, and clinic spokeswoman Heidi Linscott said Quantico’s population makes the base a natural fit for the program.
“I think because of the number of wounded warriors we take care of on the base, the need for this is just as large as in those larger military medical facilities,” Linscott said, noting that Quantico’s clinic is one of the smallest military facilities to use the program.
Because Marines don’t deploy from the base, and because it’s relatively close to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Quantico is home to a large number of battle-scarred Marines, and the wounds are not always physical, she said.
The iRest sessions are every Wednesday from 2 to 3 p.m. Anyone interested in participating should contact Padgett at 703-926-8430 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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