iRest: Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation
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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.