“Saying you’re not flexible enough for yoga, is like saying you’re too dirty to take a bath.” This popular phrase comes to mind when we think about restorative yoga. Anyone can (and should) practice it. And what’s more, there are a lot of restorative yoga benefits that will help us improve our health and wellness.
When your body and mind just aren’t in sync and you know you need something but just aren’t quite sure what ‘it‘ might be, it’s your body telling you to slow down and listen.
Restorative yoga is great for anyone and everyone. It meets you where you are and gives you a gentle hug (transcendentally speaking). It is often said that restorative yoga is a spiritual practice that heals the body and mind. There have been countless stories of people whose lives have been transformed with the help of restorative yoga.
There is no denying the numerous benefits of restorative yoga. People have claimed to have been healed from depression and panic attacks through the help of restorative yoga. But not only that – it has also helped a lot of people regain their confidence, overcome alcoholism, become more optimistic, and make new friends.
Here is a list of restorative yoga benefits that might convince you to try it:
1. Strengthens the Nervous System
Strong body, strong mind
A strong body is the result of a strong mind. So if you want to improve your physical prowess, you should also target your mind. Fortunately, restorative yoga also targets your nervous system.
According to an article by Leena Oijala in the Organic Authority, doing restorative yoga poses “has a profound ability to affect our nervous system in a positive manner … and get us feeling human again.”
Oijala explained that our central nervous consists of the sympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for our “fight or flight mode), and the parasympathetic nervous system (which supports our breathing, heart, and metabolic rates, and as well as balancing all of these systems.)
Now, most of us would spend most of our time “overworking the sympathetic nervous system. What restorative yoga does, according to the Oijala, is that it helps activate the parasympathetic system which then strengthens and balances our central nervous system.
2. Enhances Flexibility
Ahh, to be as flexible as a gymnast
We all enjoyed flexibility when we were younger. But as we get older, flexibility wears out.
Restorative yoga could help you bring back or maintain your flexibility. If you put restorative yoga on your day to day routine, you will reach your flexibility goals much faster.
However, we want to give you the right expectations. So let’s take a look at what this All Women’s Talk article says about restorative yoga:
“Note that restorative yoga isn’t meant to help you bend into a human pretzel. There is no end goal of restorative yoga as it is a practice that will be beneficial to you throughout your entire lifetime. Therefore, explore the plethora of possibilities your body has to offer and enjoy the release of stress and tension your body and mind habitually hold on to by using multiple relaxation techniques.”
3. Strengthens Acceptance and Detachment
I’m okay, I know how much I can handle
Another one of the many restorative yoga benefits is that it lets you gauge yourself on how much you can handle.
A Chopra Center article says, “By its very nature, the restorative yoga practice is the antithesis of the “no-pain-no-gain” mentality. You receive the greatest benefits from your practice not by forcing yourself into a pose, but by releasing and surrendering to it.”
The article says that this mentality helps to cultivate acceptance of your body and its inherent limitations. It also strengthens your ability to let go of preconceived notions of your body and how you think it should look or feel, both in and out of a pose.
“When increased ease and comfort are the themes of your yoga practice, acceptance and detachment naturally emerge as a result.”
4. Helps You Trim Fat and Lose Weight
Lose abdominal fat? Yes, please
This is perhaps one of the most amazing restorative yoga benefits, especially, where women are concerned. (Raise your hand if that is you.)
In fact, in 2013, the University of California San Diego did a study on restorative yoga and found out that restorative yoga actually helps trim fat. According to Do You Yoga author, Louise Carr, this study compared restorative yoga to a more active stretching regime, and after 48 weeks of study, they found out that the women practicing restorative yoga “lost more subcutaneous fat”. Isn’t that cool?
Carr says that the explanation for this effect is that “restorative yoga reduces cortisol levels—of which high levels are linked to increased abdominal fat.”
Nicole Persley, a teacher at Yoga and Inner Peace in Lake Worth, Florida, further explains that there are certain poses or asanas that are “killer apps” for weight loss. She says that these have benefits that far exceed mere calorie-burning and muscle-strengthening.
“Yoga speeds up the metabolism by stimulating endocrine glands that regulate the metabolic rate,” she explains.
5. Heals Emotional Pain
Stretch your muscles, transform your mind
Who doesn’t go through emotional pain? We all go through this because we are living in a world that is full of people that could potentially hurt us.
The difference lies in our ability to face this challenge and come out “unharmed”. And one way to do this is transforming our mind to approach this emotional challenge in a positive way. And this is one of the restorative yoga benefits that is very helpful.
Mary and Rick Stearns of Spirituality & Health wrote an article about Yoga for Emotional Trauma.
“When you practice physical yoga, you do far more than just stretch your muscles,” they wrote. “You transform body and emotions into an environment that promotes healing and well-being.”
They furthered that “when carefully designed”, your yoga practice also gently releases old emotional pain.
“Since yoga postures work with your body, a faithful practice of yoga cleanses your body from long-held painful emotional patterns, allowing you to feel increasingly at home in your body and relaxed.”
6. Helps You Feel Safe and Nurtured
Drive away fear, anxiety, and uncertainty
You have probably forgotten how it’s like to be nurtured and in the safe and loving arms of your mom when you were a baby.
But somehow, restorative yoga does the same thing, according to The Elbow Room.
“Restorative yoga provides you with a safe harbor wherein you can reconnect with your true nature, which is immortal, invincible, pure, and nourishing,” it says.
How does this happen?
The Elbow Room explains that when you’re making that connection through your poses, breathing, and deep relaxation, “it restores the memory of who are are.” It also helps you “reclaim the fearless nature of your soul.”
“From this refuge, you emerge feeling secure in the inherent goodness within your heart and in the world,” it says.
7. Fosters Transcendence
Learn to be in the here and now within you
We all want to experience that moment when our minds will take us to a different universe, where we can go beyond the material world and see things on a different level.
Restorative yoga can help us do this during meditation.
Adam Brady of The Chopra Center explains that the practice of restorative yoga in and of itself often “leads to a transcendent experience of deep oneness with the universal level of consciousness.”
“Each pose and each breath serves to lead you further up the ladder of expanded awareness. As the practice expands, the vehicle of yoga carries you from the waking state of consciousness into the silent space between your thoughts—the space from where you’re able to glimpse the soul and awaken the divinity within.”
8. Deepens Self-Awareness and Introspection
Check in with yourself daily
Sometimes, we need to detach ourselves from the noise of the outside world to know ourselves better and function better in the normal world.
This is one of the many restorative yoga benefits that we need.
Kasey Bell of Soul Space perfectly described it:
“Restorative yoga deepens our self-awareness and fosters introspection. It allows us to diffuse the outside world, even just for 75 minutes, so that we can check in and say hello to our spirit within.”
Adam Brady of The Chopra Center supports this. “Restorative yoga opens us up to new levels of self-exploration and contemplation, allowing your inner being to shine forth,” he said.
9. Slows Down the Pace of Life
Disconnect from the world around you
Sometimes we are too caught up in our busy lives that we feel disconnected from the world. It’s like you’re walking in the middle of a sea of people but you don’t know what’s happening because you’re too caught up on other things.
If you want to get back to your world and be “updated” on what’s currently happening in it, restorative yoga may be the answer.
An article in Hatch Yoga said it perfectly:
“Restorative yoga is great opportunity to disconnect from the crazy activity of daily life. It offers a welcome respite among all the turbulence of life and helps to prepare the mind and body for the inward stroke of meditation and deepened awareness.”
10. Helps You Recover from Illness
Sick? Injured? Restorative Yoga can help speed recovery
At this present times, we rely too much on pills to help us recover from illness. Well, not that it’s bad, but there are other alternative things we can do for recovery without having to pop a pill every time.
Did you know that restorative yoga can actually help speed up your recovery from some illnesses?
Says an article in Health Wholeness, “People who have suffered illnesses like a bad bout of the flu virus or chronic fatigue can really benefit from restorative yoga, when they may not be able to manage more active, flowing asanas or other forms of exercise.”
It furthers that restorative yoga will not only get their body moving and keeping them mobile and stretched, but its restorative, restful, and stress-reducing benefits will actually aid in the recovery.
11. Smooths the Aging Process
Aging doesn’t have to be scary
Aging is inevitable – everybody grows old. Whether we like it or not, our skin will one day wrinkle, our hairs will turn white, and we will eventually lose our youthful strength. However, aging doesn’t have to be scary, as some people find it to be.
There are a number of ways to ways to go through the aging process smoothly. And one of that is through the practice of yoga, specifically, restorative yoga, since it is more gentle because of the use of props.
According to The Chopra Center, restorative yoga can offer a lot of health benefits whether physical or psychological.
“Seniors, who often struggle with pain, joint stress, imbalance, osteoarthritis, and other physical limitations, can benefit from incorporating a yoga practice into their daily routine,” it says.
These benefits include improving balance and stability, improving flexibility and joint health, improving respiration, reducing high blood pressure, reducing anxiety, and encouraging mindfulness.
12. Helps with Insomnia
To be able to sleep soundly is divine
No matter how tired we are, sometimes our body just wouldn’t let us sleep. And suffering from insomnia naturally makes us more tired.
If you are suffering from insomnia, practicing restorative yoga can be the solution to your problem.
Yoga Journal listed a few restorative yoga positions you can do right in your bed to help you get that much-needed sleep. And this includes Child’s Pose or Balasana:
“Rest your chest and belly on one or two stacked pillows with knees wide apart and big toes touching. Rest an ear on the pillow, eyes closed, and jaw and belly relaxed. Your arms can rest on the sides of the pillow or underneath. Focus your attention on the nostrils and enjoy the sensation of breath flowing in and out.”
Here’s a video demonstrating this restorative yoga pose:
How Effective is Restorative Yoga and Where Can You Find Restorative Yoga Classes?
There is a reason why yoga has been practiced for thousands of years – because it works. In this fast-paced world we live in with expectations of immediate action, we have forgotten to slow down, breathe and restore. If you are looking forward to having a healthier mind and body, restorative yoga is definitely something you need to consider. Take it from the thousands of yoga enthusiasts who have reaped its benefits.