iRest: Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation

Course No. 9208
Instructor Molly Birkholm,
iRest Institute
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4.6 out of 5
37 Reviews
86% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 9208
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Learn the 10 key steps involved in a successful iRest Yoga Nidra practice session.
  • numbers Discover how to welcome painful emotions and feelings instead of fighting them.
  • numbers Use the practice of iRest Yoga Nidra to help with stress, pain relief, and better sleep.
  • numbers Practice different breathing methods as a way to influence your meditation practice.
  • numbers Work on achieving an inner peace in which all sense of self dissolves.

Course Overview

Here’s a truth you might find hard to believe: Peace is present every moment of every day. It is, in fact, your true nature. And the potential to experience this peace is already yours—you just have to learn how.

We spend so much of our lives obsessing over everything that’s changing or that needs fixing. How can you stay connected to your inner peace despite something as commonplace as workplace stress or as life-altering as post-traumatic stress disorder? More important: How can you achieve this goal in a way that’s easy to integrate into your already-demanding day?

Enter the form of secular, research-based mindfulness known as Integrative Restoration (or iRest®), whose roots go back more than 2,000 years to an ancient form of meditation called yoga nidra (Sanskrit for “yoga of sleep”). Unlike many forms of meditation, the benefits of iRest® are grounded with legitimate research and have been validated through significant evidence. It has proven so effective that the US military uses it extensively.

From the first class on, you’ll be introduced to the science behind why and how this practice is effective for addressing challenges including insomnia, trauma, stress, pain, and more. This guided meditation practice has helped special operations troops improve their resiliency, executives manage stress, cancer patients cope with pain, and trauma survivors experience safety and healing. Most recently, Molly Birkholm, your instructor for this course, taught iRest® to teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the Parkland school shooting to help those who were affected by violence to find calmness, to heal, and to learn how to process and observe the experience instead of feeling it over and over.

Through the techniques of iRest®, you can start your journey toward inner peace not as some lofty idea but as a first-hand experience. This form of meditation:

  • teaches you to live from a place where positive thoughts, words, and deeds arise naturally,
  • uncovers a way of living where every moment is paired with its perfect response, and
  • empowers you to stay connected to a state of awareness despite life’s challenges.

Trauma specialist and iRest® trainer Molly Birkholm of the iRest® Institute has herself reaped the benefits of iRest® Yoga Nidra, using it to overcome physical and emotional trauma and to achieve a more balanced, peaceful life. And now, she brings the practice right into your life and your home with iRest®: Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation. The passion, commitment, and enthusiasm Ms. Birkholm brings to this course demonstrates how the success she found through iRest® was personally meaningful and motivational, allowing her to bring compassion and understanding to every facet of the practice. In 24 classes and full-length practice sessions, you’ll get a thoughtful and thorough introduction to this unique form of guided meditation and the ways it can help you as both a practical tool and as a form of deep meditation. Alternating between the theoretical and experiential, between the philosophical and the scientific, these classes guide you through each of the 10 vital steps of the iRest® Yoga Nidra practice.

Learn the Steps to Inner Peace

While some forms of meditation require you to shut out the world around you, iRest® practice gives you the opportunity to be proactive with your physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts. It allows you to treat them as messengers informing you of what wants to be seen and heard inside of yourself and in the world.

At the heart of iRest® is a focus on the 10 steps of yoga nidra adapted by clinical psychologist and yogic scholar Richard Miller. These 10 steps are the backbone of Ms. Birkholm’s course, and they provide you with a comprehensive and comfortable path through the entire meditation process.

“Think of yoga nidra as a filing system for your mind that guides you through an experience of your body; breath; and any feelings, emotions, or beliefs that may be present,” says Ms. Birkholm. “It then gently leads you into deeper states of mindful awareness and stillness.”

Here are a few of the 10 steps Ms. Birkholm guides you through in these classes.

  • Step 2: Set Your Intention. As you set your intention for your iRest® meditation practice, think about what would bring you into harmony on that given day, whether it’s dealing with anger or making an important decision. Setting an intention at the start of your practice begins to bring your mind into a more focused state.
  • Step 4: Sense Your Body. An important part of any iRest® practice session is rotating your attention through your body using patterns that correspond with the sensory and motor cortices in your brain. This step is designed to decrease your heart and respiratory rates and evoke a state of deep rest.
  • Step 5: Sense Your Breath. Your breath is the only function of your autonomic nervous system you can directly influence. Mindfulness breathing—whether observing the natural flow of your breath or using a variety of breathing techniques—is one of the most effective ways to evoke your relaxation response.
  • Step 7: Address Your Intellect. In much the same way you work with your emotions in iRest®, you also need to directly address your beliefs, images, and memories. You will learn how to give them all equal voices to be felt, seen, and heard. The goal is to realize there’s nothing you need to escape from in order to find peace.

In later classes of iRest®, you’ll hone your knowledge and newfound skills with specialized sessions that examine how iRest® Yoga Nidra can help you with everything from improving your sleep habits and relieving certain types of short-term and chronic pain to managing stress and healing from traumatic experiences.

Enjoy Full-length Yoga Sessions

iRest® Yoga Nidra utilizes a variety of techniques to evoke your relaxation response, leading to an increase in your body’s ability to stay resilient in the face of challenging circumstances. But resilience, Ms. Birkholm notes, is like a muscle. To strengthen it, you need to practice.

This course features a variety of short- and long-form iRest® Yoga Nidra practice sessions you can dive into either in the context of other classes or on their own. Several classes conclude with short meditation practices, while entire classes invite you to join Ms. Birkholm and several students in our in-house yoga studio.

With the care, consideration, and guidance you’d expect from a master meditation teacher, Ms. Birkholm helps you with:

  • proper positioning,
  • sensing your body,
  • discovering uncaused joy,
  • cultivating your inner resource, and more.
  • The result is an integrated learning experience that doesn’t just tell you about the benefits of iRest® Yoga Nidra—it invites you to participate in guided meditation techniques that have been adopted and successfully implemented by organizations including large corporations and the U.S. Department of Defense.

    An Empowered (and Empowering) Experience

    With iRest®, you’ll find everything you need to understand and practice iRest® Yoga Nidra. Whatever techniques work best for you, whatever intentions you have for your practice, whatever pain or trauma you’re trying to overcome, Ms. Birkholm’s classes are a constant companion. As Ms. Birkholm notes: “You may notice you’re more present and aware after you practice iRest®. Colors may look brighter. Tastes may seem richer. But it’s important to note this heightened awareness will oftentimes go away if you don’t maintain a consistent practice.”

    Crafted with joy, peace, and wisdom—and supported with scientific rigor—this course is an empowered (and empowering) learning experience with the potential to reshape the way you react to the world.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 34 minutes each
  • 1
    Introducing iRest Yoga Nidra
    One of the most important principles in iRest is that of welcoming: inviting you to explore whatever arises as a part of your human experience. Begin your journey with a look at how stress affects the body, the roots of yoga nidra, and the 10 steps of iRest you'll practice throughout the course. x
  • 2
    iRest Foundations: Philosophy and Practice
    Take a closer look at the foundations of iRest from philosophical and practical perspectives. What texts and teachings form the basis of yoga nidra? How do you set up the right practice space? What time of day is the best time to practice iRest? Is it OK to fall asleep during your practice? x
  • 3
    Creating an Inner Resource
    Your Inner Resource is a haven of peace and serenity—a felt sense of well-being deeply rooted inside your body. In this lecture, Ms. Birkholm shows you how to cultivate and connect with your Inner Resource, which is one of the most essential parts of your iRest practice. x
  • 4
    iRest Practice: Inner Resource
    Start tapping into your personal Inner Resource. Join several other students as Ms. Birkholm guides you through a helpful session designed to help you develop an internal experience of well-being that can help you transition from the anxieties of your outside life to the calm of your meditation practice. x
  • 5
    The Power of Intention and Heartfelt Desire
    Two tools you can use to live as your best self (however you define that) are intention and heartfelt desire. Explore these second and third steps of iRest Yoga Nidra as a way to move closer to reconnecting with your true self and living the life you want most. x
  • 6
    iRest Practice: Intention
    Explore your intention and heartfelt desire in this extended iRest practice session. By identifying them at the start of the practice, putting them away, and returning to them again at the conclusion of your practice, you'll perhaps experience these two aspects of iRest Yoga Nidra in entirely different ways. x
  • 7
    Learning to Listen to Your Body
    Learn how to think of your body as a symphony of sensations and signals. After a brief overview of the different layers of consciousness in iRest, focus on the first: the physical body. Benefits of attuning yourself to your body include heightened sensory awareness and pointers into your true nature. x
  • 8
    iRest Practice: Body Sensing
    Practice allowing yourself to receive the different messages your body's trying to send you. As a way to help you explore your body more deeply (and to gauge some of its benefits), this iRest practice session invites you to continually tense and relax your body (physically or mentally). x
  • 9
    Exploring the Power of the Breath
    Ms. Birkholm reveals what your breath can tell you about your health and peace of mind. Start by learning the yogic and scientific perspectives on breathing. Then, turn to breathing exercise techniques you can incorporate into your iRest practice, including breath counting, Ferris wheel breath, and alternate nostril breathing. x
  • 10
    iRest Practice: Breath Sensing
    The focus of this practice session is on a deep meditation using the principles of breath sensing you learned in the previous lecture. Join several other students and see some of the ways sensing and controlling your breath can influence your physical and mental experience during your practice. x
  • 11
    Feelings and Emotions as Messengers
    Another step of the iRest protocol is thinking of your feelings and emotions as “messengers” that tell you how your body and mind are experiencing the world. Learn to differentiate between feelings and emotions, examine the entire spectrum of emotions, and learn to work with opposite emotions. x
  • 12
    iRest Practice: Feelings and Emotions
    Put the previous lecture’s principles, strategies, and insights to use in a helpful meditative experience led by Ms. Birkholm. Welcome different emotions and feelings into your body—whichever ones happen to arise during your iRest Yoga Nidra practice—as if they were simply visitors in your home. x
  • 13
    Finding Deeper Wisdom in Your Beliefs
    In this lecture, Ms. Birkholm shares proactive tools for what you can do when you feel limited by your thoughts. You'll encounter the fundamentals of cognition, the Laws of Opposites and Awareness, and the five kanchukas (or thoughts) that can be found at the root of all human suffering. x
  • 14
    iRest Practice: Beliefs
    Get better acquainted with some of the beliefs you have as a way to become more aware and accepting of your whole experience. Through this helpful iRest practice session, you'll explore ways to use your thoughts and beliefs to direct you toward creating the life you want to lead. x
  • 15
    Discovering Uncaused Joy
    In this lecture, learn ways you can live in a joyous equanimity that exists independent of objects. Through methods including the “three blessings” (writing down three things that went well and why) and “day’s reviews” (reflecting on unfinished events), better realize the ever-present joy in your life. x
  • 16
    iRest Practice: Joyful Well-Being
    How can you better open yourself up to experience peace? It starts with this iRest Yoga Nidra practice session designed to help you cultivate joy. Join Ms. Birkholm and several other students as you, together, tap into the power of the anandamaya kosha stage of iRest. x
  • 17
    Cultivating Awareness
    Turn to the goal of iRest practice: cultivating awareness. Feel into the “I-thought” the same way you do your breathing. Take a closer look at the continuum of awareness, which stretches from your perception of the self as separate to pure awareness, in which all sense of self dissolves. x
  • 18
    iRest Practice: Awareness and Peace
    In this illuminating iRest practice session, you and several other students will take time to explore what it's like to move into witnessing awareness and come closer to fully embodying enlightenment and deep connection in your life. How far along the continuum of awareness can you move? x
  • 19
    Using iRest for Sleep
    Focus on something Ms. Birkholm takes extremely seriously: sleep. First, get tips on turning your bedroom into a sanctuary for sleep. Then, learn two important techniques to help you get a restful night's sleep, and cap it with a brief practice session designed to help you fall asleep. x
  • 20
    Using iRest for Pain Relief
    Walk through the 10 steps of the iRest protocol as they pertain to dealing with chronic pain, whether it's physical (a car accident) or emotional (the loss of a job). Ms. Birkholm shows that, in order to manage pain, you need to approach it from multiple angles. x
  • 21
    Using iRest for Stress Management
    The key to overcoming anxiety, as you'll learn here, is by becoming a source of connection, strength, and resiliency. And this is where iRest plays a critical role. To give you a taste of this, Ms. Birkholm includes a short iRest practice session designed to help you tackle stress. x
  • 22
    Using iRest for Healing Trauma
    Move beyond life's ordinary stressors to look at how iRest can help heal major trauma in your life. Start by going over the basics of how trauma affects the body and mind. Then, examine how you can use iRest principles to integrate your experiences and counteract their traumatic effects. x
  • 23
    The Science behind iRest Yoga Nidra
    What about iRest Yoga Nidra makes it effective? It’s all rooted in the scientific research that supports the practice of iRest and illustrates how and why meditation is so healing. Take a closer look at how the five components of mindfulness—including intention and disidentification—work together. x
  • 24
    iRest Yoga Nidra for Everyday Life
    Conclude the course with a lecture on the tenth step of iRest, during which you come back to life in deep connection with a deep sense of peace. Enjoy a lasting feeling of empowerment at how iRest can help you become the fullest expression of your true self. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

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Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 24 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
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Instant Audio Includes:
  • Download 24 audio lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 232-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 232-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos and illustrations
  • Suggested reading
  • Worksheets

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Your professor

Molly Birkholm

About Your Professor

Molly Birkholm
iRest Institute
Molly Birkholm is a trauma specialist and iRest® trainer affiliated with the iRest Institute; a cofounder of Warriors at Ease; and the CEO of Molly Birkholm, Inc. As a yoga and meditation teacher and trainer, professional speaker, consultant, and writer, she inspires others to create meaningful life changes using research-based yoga and mindfulness meditation techniques. A featured teacher for Yoga International and the...
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iRest: Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 37.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Path to peace In a time of increasing chaos, the guided journeys back from the abyss shared in this series of lectures provides just what is needed to regain or sustain our fragile mental health. Interestingly the closer we get to, and the longer we stay on the event horizon of societies black holes, the harder it becomes to follow a path back into the light. But for those willing to stay the course, peace will find its way back in.
Date published: 2020-08-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from i rest yoga nidra It is a little early to write a review. I haven't even received the course yet.
Date published: 2020-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course changed my life. I started the course in January 2019, and have used the practice sessions pretty much daily ever since. I've meditated most of my life, but what I found in iRest Yoga Nidra is a deeper understanding of trauma and recovery, and finding a place of safety and peace within myself. This has enhanced my personal journey and helped me in my treatment of PTS due to child abuse. One anecdote from the class I greatly appreciated is Professor Birkholm's description of teaching a class to a group of veterans. One shouted at her, "I'm not relaxed!' In that, she relates how she realizes that the objective is to come to the practice as we are, and not to force it. It wasn't until she related that story that I realized I'd been using my meditation practice to try and "be" relaxed, rather than "be with myself as I am;" as a consequence, I *wasn't* relaxed. It wasn't until I started practicing iRest Yoga Nidra that I've been able to truly relax and sleep better. I'm still learning a lot from the course even today, more than 18 months later. I have recommended it to my friends and to students in my artist's way clusters. This is truly one of my favorite courses on The Great Courses.
Date published: 2020-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellant Great instructor and very informative. I started using Yoga Nidra in my daily life and it's amazing.
Date published: 2020-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Find peace in these troubled times I found this course to be very informative and helpful. Today’s worries about Coronavirus have caused many of us to feel anxious or depressed. This course shows clearly how we can feel better, and have a more positive outlook on life, with greater compassion for ourselves and others. In addition to detailed descriptions of how to practice iRest, it deals with our values and heartfelt desires. Chapters deal with practical benefits - improving sleep, dealing with pain, physical or psychological. Molly is very clear in her message. I have watched these lectures through several times. Thank you for this wonderful, helpful course!
Date published: 2020-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Worth the Time My wife uses iRest in her counseling practice and I use it as well. But listening to the development and full range of applications provided much greater insight. Molly has a wonderful presence and enthusiasm that makes listening and watching joyful. Understanding the roots and science behind iRest has been enriching.
Date published: 2020-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent course Very interesting and helpful. It has improved my sleep and overall emotional health. Different from other meditation courses.
Date published: 2019-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very helpful in life I purchased this course almost a year ago, and have been working on it since. There is no doubt, that meditation is a very good and useful tool to improve one’s life. However, I struggle with it. Hence I will separate the review in two parts. First, I want to consider the fairly objective facts. The course has 24 lectures, which is the right amount for an introduction (2 lessons), to cover the ten steps of the Yoga Nidra process in a theoretical lesson and then a practice (16 lessons), focusing on the use of iRest for particular situations (4 lessons), and to wrap up the course (2 lessons). It is well structured and each lesson has the right length. Molly Birkholm is obviously very experienced in the matter and that shows in a presentation very well done with hardly any slip of tongue. While I have heard guided meditations with voices that I have found more soothing and liked better than hers, I still think that her voice is well suited and pleasant. The only thing I did not like during the practice sessions was that she kept giving examples for an Inner Resource, even in later practices. I can understand the help to find one at the beginning, but it became annoying after a while, especially when examples were given that I do not associate with a place of calm and comfort at all. The ten steps of Yoga Nidra make sense. One goes from finding a suitable setting for the meditation, where one feels comfortable, into setting an intention and a heartfelt desire, and on to explore oneself step by step from the outer layer (the body, the breath) to the inner layers (feelings, emotions, beliefs), trying eventually to find a state of peace that is separate and non-changing and unaffected by the rest. Now to my more subjective part of the review. My biggest problem with meditation attempts is that the state of physical relaxation easily makes me fall asleep, and thus I am not practicing as often as would be necessary to achieve best results. I am quite certain that when I bought the course, the description of it was different and raised the hope that this kind of meditation could even work when one falls asleep. The issue is clarified in lecture 2 of the course: "While there can still be some benefits when falling asleep, wakefulness is necessary to work with challenging emotions or to explore deep states of meditation." Thus I have not achieved the benefits that the course promises quite yet. However, the course gave me enough understand and help to deal with difficult situations better than before. For example, anger management is difficult for me at times. Through the course I learnt to experience opposites, and when I get angry I try to remember the lectures and the exploration of the opposite (in this case peace), and that oftentimes brings me back into balance. I also lost my dad not long ago, and Yoga Nidra helped me to accept the grieving process I was going through. Another aspect I like is that one sets an intention for each session, and reaching a state of peace is a well worth goal, even if I often fall asleep before I mentally get there. So overall, it is a course that I would recommend and find very helpful in life, even if I have not been able to fully implement it in my own daily life.
Date published: 2019-09-30
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