Restorative Yoga’s Benefits & Poses To Try Part 1
This article is the first part of a two-part series about the benefits of restorative yoga and poses you can try.
Restorative yoga is not meant to be as physically challenging as other types of yoga such as Bikram or Ashtanga. Its power rests within the benefits it has in promoting overall health and wellness.
Restorative yoga can rejuvenate and support your nervous system which in turn can improve your sleep and overall energy. It is also a great stretching practice that can help you decompress.
Let’s dive deeper into what restorative yoga is and some of the health benefits it provides.
What Is Restorative Yoga?
Restorative yoga is a type of yoga that is meant to relax and calm the body while providing healing effects. It involves holding yoga poses for long stretches of time while focusing on the breath. It can often require props such as blankets, yoga blocks, or yoga rings. These props are meant to support your body to help it relax deeper.
Restorative yoga is mainly used to help relieve stress in the body, promote relaxation, and help you build a mind-body connection. By holding the necessary poses for bouts of time, your body is able to ease into discomfort and eventually let go of it altogether.
Helps Decrease Stress Levels
In today’s modern society, it’s typical for many people to experience symptoms of stress. With busy lives, it can often be hard to remember to slow down, breathe, and stretch. But when you do, it helps take the body out of “fight or flight” mode by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Restorative yoga does just that. By activating your PNS, you allow the body to enter into what’s known as “rest and digest” mode. This allows your body to lower your blood pressure, slow down your heart rate, release muscular tension, and relax the digestive system.
Studies show that restorative yoga may be especially beneficial for people who experience symptoms of insomnia, depression, anxiety, tension headaches, ongoing digestive issues, and occupational stress (i.e. working night shifts).
Restorative yoga helps address the root of these problems by decreasing stress hormones that are released such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Improves Quality Of Sleep And Overall Energy
If you struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep because you feel wired, worried, or stressed, restorative yoga before bed may be a great practice to add to your daily routine.
Restorative yoga teaches you to breathe deeper to release stress and slow your heart rate. This can help you to feel calmer so it is easier to drift off to sleep. Studies have also shown that restorative yoga can help decrease fatigue in people who suffer from mental health problems. If you sleep better and wake up feeling rested, you will have more energy throughout the day.
Try adding in a 10-minute routine before bed in a dimly lit room to help your body ease into sleep.
Gently stretching tense parts of the body through restorative yoga can help you improve your flexibility over time. Breathing deeply as you stretch parts of your body that need a little tender love and care, such as tight hips, shoulders, back, and neck muscles can allow them to relax and reach greater ranges of motion.
Supports Cardiovascular Health & Relieves Pain
Since restorative yoga is great for reducing the negative effects that stress has on the body, it can actually act as an agent against metabolic changes such as high triglycerides, low HDL-cholesterol, hyperglycemia, and hypertension which have all been linked to obesity and heart disease.
Chronic pain can often be made worse by stress which worsens muscle tension and inflammation. Because restorative yoga is so proficient at reducing stress, it can also help relieve aches and pains.
A 2020 study conducted on adults with chronic pain found that taking just two one-hour restorative yoga classes significantly reduced pain and improved social functioning and energy.
Great For Injury Recovery & Encourages Overall Health And Wellness
Because of how gentle restorative yoga is, it can be highly beneficial for people and athletes who are recovering from injuries. Restorative yoga has even been found to be good for those who struggle to get off the ground without pain. Because of the use of props, participants can get into poses that might otherwise be uncomfortable.
While restorative yoga may not be the best exercise for burning calories, any movement is better than no movement. Starting slow and adding this gentle and calming practice to your day can lead to prioritizing more self-care.
If you start to experience less pain and the ability to move around better in your daily life from practicing it, it can even lead to the ability to try harder workouts. The benefits you will experience from learning to breathe deeper and relax your body can leak into other parts of your life to promote overall health and wellness.