The practice of restorative yoga has been around for centuries. Yogis far and wide connect with their inner wisdom in an effort to develop a mind-body-spirit connection that strengthens all aspects of the self.
Diligent students of this practice cite benefits to all aspects of their lives, urging us to stop the hustle and bustle of daily life. They encourage people to once again find that stillness that breeds unity and strength.
Yoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual wisdom of the ages passed down from generation to generation. It blends intention with the practice of self-love and self-care to improve all aspects of life.
While some may view yoga as a practice virtually impossible to undertake for physical reasons, some types of yoga can bring benefits to the body without twisting it into a pretzel.
Restorative yoga is a kinder, gentler form of yoga. It often involves assistive props such as blocks, straps, and blankets for comfort. While restorative yoga may at first look boring or too slow for some, even the most active person can benefit from slowing down and reflecting on a restorative practice from time to time.
Whether you are a seasoned athlete or someone just looking to start a fitness regime, here are some solid reasons you need to consider incorporating this unique type of yoga into your health and fitness routine: (1)
Benefits of Restorative Yoga
1. It increases flexibility
Practicing yoga on a regular basis calls for holding postures for two minutes or longer. This static stretching elongates muscles and increases your flexibility, leaving you more toned and less prone to injury.
The use of props such as blocks and straps to hold positions more comfortably for longer periods of time only deepens stretches, making them more effective.
2. It reduces muscle tension
Over time, muscles store up tension and negative energy within its fibers. Without a way to work out this tension, it can wreak havoc on your muscles, tendons, and bones. Eventually, it may pull everything out of alignment and cause imbalances that lead to illness and disease.
Through the practice of yoga, muscles are stretched to the point where they can release tension and stored energy that otherwise make you ill. You’ll experience an incredible release of tension as your muscles relax and energy can flow freely once more.
3. It calms the restless, wandering mind
When done correctly, restorative yoga proves as mentally invigorating as certain forms of meditation. Holding positions for a longer period of time forces you to concentrate on your physical posture, your breathing, and eventually … nothing at all, as you find that space of calm that reveals your inner zen.
The more you practice this focusing on the breath, the more effectively you can carry this place of newfound calm with you off the mat.
4. It heals the body
Thanks to its traditions that span thousands of years, restorative yoga activates the PNS, or parasympathetic nervous system. Your subconscious nervous system is responsible for controlling heart rate, respiration, intestinal and digestive activity, and other body functions that you hopefully don’t have to do much thinking about.
When your PNS comes into balance through restorative yoga, your heart rate slows, your cortisol levels lower, and all organs and systems of the body can find their optimal function in a calmer environment. Yoga calms mind and body, bringing all systems of the body back into a state of balance that restores and promotes healing from within.
5. Yoga helps to heal emotional wounds
Through the practice of yoga, the mind calms itself down and a place for acceptance opens up. At times, uncomfortable and seemingly negative emotions and experiences come up for review. The intention is for them to be released through the practice.
If you do what you can to get your “ego” out of the way and accept these uncomfortable emotions with the intent of experiencing and releasing them, you’ll find emotional healing through your practice as well. While you may be surprised at the occasional strong emotional response to physical activity, don’t fight it. On the other side of this experience is a relief like you’ve not experienced before.
6. It boosts the immune system
When the mind and body are soothed, calmed, and restored, the immune system has a chance to restore and repair itself once more. It grows more effective at fighting off infection and illness. Through the use of gentle, adaptive postures, even those who are weak or physically unable to perform other types of exercise learn to hold certain postures. This makes emotional and physical progress possible.
7. It will help you to trim fat and lose weight
Studies from as recently as 2013 indicate that people can benefit from fat loss and weight loss through the practice of restorative yoga. When compared to active stretching programs over a longer period of time, the studies revealed that those practicing yoga as part of a fitness regime reduced their weight and overall body fat percentages more consistently than those who did not practice yoga.
One possible reason for this decrease in body fat percentage could be due to the decreased levels of the fat-storage hormone cortisol, which can sabotage weight loss efforts.
8. It helps you to recover faster from illness
We all need a little rest from time to time; whether recovering from a cold, flu, or even broken bones and strained muscles, restorative yoga can help speed up the healing process.
A yoga asana does not need to be “active” in order for it to be effective; yoga allows you to reap the benefits of yoga with lower energy while building strength.
9. It is a bridge to mindfulness and meditation
Perhaps you long for the benefits of meditation but don’t know how to begin; you can try this type of gentle yoga to help you attain inner peace.
Restorative yoga supports calmness of mind and promotes more focused concentration. These two skills also improve and heighten with meditation. Yoga prepares both mind and body to enter a place of peace, allowing you to find the balance and health that you seek.
10. It balances your nervous system
Restorative yoga benefits also include bringing balance to the central nervous system, the hub of all nervous system activity that drives your body’s functions. With this newfound balance comes a sense of renewal and rejuvenation, allowing for a free flow of communication between the brain and all systems of the body.