4 Benefits of Restorative Yoga (And Reasons to Practice It More Often!)
As a Restorative Yoga teacher, I often hear questions like, “What’s the point of Restorative Yoga?” or “Why should I bother practicing Restorative Yoga?” While it may not look like much from the outside, the benefits of Restorative Yoga are extraordinary and plentiful.
Although many only see Restorative Yoga as “nap time over a bolster,” it really is a profoundly deep and beneficial practice that many could greatly use.
These 4 Benefits of Restorative Yoga Will Convince You to Practice It More Often
Restorative Yoga is a simple and peaceful practice. And while you might not even realize it, this simple practice really does a great deal for your overall health and well-being.
1. It Grounds and Soothes You
First and foremost, one of the biggest benefits of Restorative Yoga is its soothing nature. This gentle practice is grounding (both literally and figuratively) and deeply soothing.
You practice almost all postures close to the ground, being fully supported by many props. This support helps to relax not only your physical body but also your mind.
It’s also a gentle practice that involves little to no physical sensation (so your muscles can truly “let go”) and a whole lot of stillness and silence (to allow your mind to unwind and also “let go”).
The simplicity of the practice helps you to feel supported, held, and comfortable enough to truly release.
2. It Changes Your Physiology
Another one of the major benefits of Restorative Yoga is its effect on your nervous system.
In our modern world, we all tend to spend a massive chunk of our time living in our sympathetic “fight-or-flight” response. We’re constantly “on” and in “go mode.” While there’s nothing wrong with this from time to time, it can become detrimental to our health when we chronically live in this state.
Restorative Yoga teaches us to release this and initiate what is called the relaxation response. This triggers our parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” response, which helps us to unwind, calm down, and digest (again, both literally and figuratively).
So while you might think lying over a bolster on your yoga mat may not be doing a whole lot for your health and wellness, think again. This simple practice actually has the power to shift your autonomic nervous system into greater overall balance.
3. It Reduces Chronic Pain
While pain is a very real and lived sensation, it is not always a response to physical tissue damage in the body. In fact, all pain is created by the brain due to its perception of danger. Chronic pain is often an oversensitized response by the brain to perceptions of danger.
By soothing the nervous system as a whole, you can help to teach your brain that your body is safe and protected and not in danger. This may help to desensitize the nervous system and reduce chronic pain throughout the body.
4. It Improves Sleep
Yoga, in general, is believed to improve sleep, which of course, leads to a plethora of cascading benefits. So one of the benefits of Restorative Yoga, in particular, is that it helps to regulate and improve sleep just as well as, if not even better than, traditional yoga practices.
Its simple, soothing quality definitely helps to downregulate the nervous system and prepare the body and mind for deep, restful sleep as you start to move into the “rest-and-digest” response, your physical body and mental state transition toward sleep.
5. It Relieves Stress and Anxiety
Research has shown time and time again that yoga helps to reduce stress and anxiety, and Restorative Yoga is certainly no exception.
Restorative Yoga encourages more being and less doing, more internal listening and less external stimuli, and more time to just surrender. For most, this is the perfect recipe to help release pent-up stress and anxiety.
The gentleness of the practice often translates internally to allow you to be softer with yourself and to easefully release burdening worries. Again, Restorative Yoga may not look like much is happening from the outside, but internally, a deep and meaningful practice is unfolding.
The Many Benefits of Restorative Yoga Will Make You Want to Practice Regularly
At first glance, Restorative Yoga may seem like just lying around. But once you’ve experienced the many benefits of Restorative Yoga firsthand, it’s hard to turn your back on the magic that this practice offers.
Absorb the many benefits of Restorative Yoga and continue to cherish these benefits every time you step onto your mat to practice this gentle but powerful practice.