iRest: Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation

Course No. 9208
Instructor Molly Birkholm,
iRest Institute
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Course No. 9208
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  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for diagrams, illustrations, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. While the video version can be considered lightly illustrated, it includes physiology charts, demonstrations, and graphics, as well as on-screen text, which may help reinforce material for visual learners.
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What Will You Learn?

  • Learn the 10 key steps involved in a successful iRest Yoga Nidra practice session.
  • Discover how to welcome painful emotions and feelings instead of fighting them.
  • Use the practice of iRest Yoga Nidra to help with stress, pain relief, and better sleep.
  • Practice different breathing methods as a way to influence your meditation practice.
  • 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
 |  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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Video DVD
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  • Ability to download 24 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
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Audio Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 audio lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
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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
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CD Includes:
  • 24 Lectures on 12 CDs
  • 232-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

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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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Reviews

iRest: Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation is rated 5.0 out of 5 by 12.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The easiest yet most profound way to meditate I initially discovered IREST (or what I like to call “napping” meditation because it is THAT easy to do) more than a decade ago and utilized it to support myself through a chronic illness. As a trained yoga therapist and IREST II teacher in training as well as a practitioner, I highly recommend this course. Molly has a beautiful way of explaining the IREST principles in an easy to understand manner and makes it relatable with many everyday experiences and stories as examples. This course is destined to become a classic and everyone can benefit from it. So whether you are a seasoned practitioner, a brand new beginner, or even a meditation drop-out, I encourage to give this course a go. I believe that you will find that it improves your life in ways you never could’ve imagined. There is no doubt that Molly is an expert of her topic; however it is the genuine feelings of peace, love and concern for her clients that comes across in the course that make it especially exceptional. Thank you for the gift Molly.
Date published: 2018-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LIFE CHANGING Great course. Molly is outstanding and she really delivers. My life is so much better since practicing Yoga Nidra.
Date published: 2018-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful way to be that is accessible to all. I haven’t gotten half way through the lectures and it’s been such a blessing. Each is just long enough to use almost daily. Practices are beautiful and I definitely plan to go back and revisit several times. I really like the case notes about others , benefits, and science.
Date published: 2018-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What we resist persist What a nice and beautiful course. I found the meditation practices very valuable.
Date published: 2018-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Title gives a good overview I have completed 18 of the 24 lectures so far. I find it to be one of the best of the many Great Courses I have listened to. What I find particularly good is the meditative practice exercises that follow her technical discussions of the concepts. It allows you to put the teachings into practice right away.
Date published: 2018-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this course I am so excited to be learning iRest. It’s presented in an easy to learn format. Relaxation and all the benefits that come with it is so easy when you practice iRest.
Date published: 2018-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Practical and profound knowledge at once The first time I practiced Yoga Nidra with Molly Birkholm it left a deep impression on me. It was apparently simple and yet very profound. I felt very relaxed afterwards. Now with this course I can learn more about it at my own pace and bring it with me wherever I go. This is an empowering tool. I m so glad that it was made into this format to reach a broader audience and a new way to access this healthy tool for everyday life.
Date published: 2018-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So grateful! As a Great Courses novice, I felt a bit overwhelmed by its vast content selection. I narrowed in on meditation, and I found iRest: Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation. As a newcomer, my experience could not have been better. I was delighted by the ease of the whole process. The quality, content, and value were far superior than I had envisioned, and I especially enjoyed the self-paced nature of the content. I will be back for more courses!
Date published: 2018-07-19
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