Restorative Yoga Poses Will Relax the Mind and Body

Restorative yoga poses emphasize stillness and relaxation and are a great way to balance today's very hectic lifestyles. Life is busy and we often find ourselves running on overdrive in an effort to finish our endless "to do" lists.

And, then we are encouraged to squeeze in some cardiovascular or aerobic exercise to keep our hearts healthy. Even when we crawl into bed to catch a few hours sleep, our minds are still so active that we often fight insomnia or wake up feeling even more tired and fatigued.

Studies have shown that one of the main reasons we get sick is because we don't take the time to release stress, calm our minds, and completely relax. In fact, some of us probably wouldn't know how to relax if we were given the opportunity. But, constant stress and demands will eventually take a toll on your body either through illness or injury.

Restorative Yoga Poses

Restorative yoga poses are simply meant to relieve stress through deep relaxation so your body can regenerate and heal. Typically, props such as blocks, blankets, bolsters, straps, pillows, or towels are used to help support the body and make sure it is properly aligned for maximum results. 

All traditional yoga poses will repair, build, and strengthen, but many of the new practices are also created to target fat loss and muscle building.

Although props are not necessary, they are strongly recommended since they will allow you to fully relax without any strain on your body. There is no muscle tension, lifting, or balancing required. Your only job is to find a place of stillness, calmness, and complete relaxation. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

restorative yoga poses animated photo

Benefits of Restorative Yoga Poses

Whether you are recovering from an illness or injury  or trying to prevent one  restorative yoga poses offer the balance you need to counteract the effects of a busy, and sometimes not so healthy, lifestyle.

  • Relaxes the body – will reduce pain caused by chronic stress and strain.
  • Calms and relaxes the mind
  • Improves flexibility – resulting in less muscle pain and reducing the risk of injury.
  • Soothes and balances the nervous system and disciplines the Sympathetic Nervous System.
  • Boosts the immunity system
  • Balances hormonal function and keeps both the lymphatic and adrenal systems operating properly.
  • Enhances digestion
  • Improves your body's ability to heal and repair.
  • Improves mood and alleviates mild depression.
  • Stimulates and soothes organs and calms inflammation.
  • Improves concentration.

Restorative Yoga Poses

Childs Pose

Childs pose will gently stretch the hips and thighs, release tension in the back, reduce neck pain (when done with head supported), and relieve stress, tension, or fatigue. This is also a great pose to sequence in between more challenging asanas to help the body rest, recover or prepare for the next balancing posture.

child's poseTaylor Demonstrating the Child's Pose

Bridge Pose

Bridge pose has a very long list of restorative capabilities such as stretching the chest, neck, spine, and hips; stimulating lung and thyroid function; fighting depression; calming the nervous system; decreasing muscle pain; helping with insomnia (if done before bed); increasing circulation; relieving abdominal cramps associated with menstruation.

Having the head lower than the heart increases the restorative properties of this pose; however, the size of the supports used will depend on your personal ability and comfort level.

yoga bridge pose

Corpse Pose

Corpse pose is one of total relaxation and stillness. Many people find it challenging at first, but the curative qualities are amazing. The Corpse Pose can relieve stress and depression, help eliminate headaches, fight fatigue and insomnia, and lower blood pressure. Although many people do not use supports, some find the pose more comfortable by placing a blanket or bolster under the knees.

yoga corpse pose

Legs Up Wall Pose

Besides all the above-mentioned benefits, this restorative pose is designed specifically to help relieve back and leg pain, calm anxiety, improve sleep, increase blood flow, reduce varicose veins, and is also a great way to get rid of a headache!

Additionally, this posture will gently stretch the back of the legs, the torso, and the neck. Although support is not necessary, you may find more restorative benefits by placing a few blankets or a bolster under your lower back.

legs up wall pose

Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Again, this posture can be done with or without supports depending on your level of flexibility, although many people find benefits from using a pillow under the upper back or neck and blocks under the knees.

The Reclining Bound Angle Pose will gently stretch the hips, chest, and inner thighs, can relieve headaches, help release anxiety and tension, increase circulation, calm the nervous system, and improve the symptoms of menstruation or menopause.

bound angle yoga pose

Tips For Restorative Yoga Poses

To get the most benefits from your Restorative Yoga practices, follow these tips:

  • Choose a calm environment. Deep relaxation is reached when your body and mind are in a calm and nurturing atmosphere. Find a quiet place away from distractions, and choose a time when you know you can maintain the pose for several minutes.
  • Find your comfort zone. Restorative yoga poses are held for quite a while, sometimes 20 minutes or longer; so, it is important that you are comfortable. Adjust the supports before you begin to make sure that nothing feels strained or irritated. You cannot completely relax if you are focused on your comfort  or lack of it!

  • Release your energy. Many people combine restorative poses with other postures; but, if you are going to be focusing on a restorative series alone, it is a good idea to stretch or do some other type of exercise first. Remember, restorative yoga requires that you be very still, so you may want to get rid of any restlessness first.

  • Use supports. Unless you feel completely comfortable without supports, it is a good idea to use them. The more supported your body is, the more you will be able to relax. And, the best restorative benefits are realized at the deepest relaxation levels.

  • Rest your mind. Many people can achieve total relaxation of the body, but have a much harder time completely calming and relaxing the mind. This takes a lot of discipline, but you will master it with practice. Be sure to make this a priority during your restorative yoga practice.

Restorative Yoga Poses

Restorative Yoga poses can be included as part of a sequence or routine, or they can be done individually throughout the day whenever you are feeling stressed. To balance a busy schedule and keep your body healthy, make restorative yoga a regular part of your lifestyle.

Other pages that might interest you:

I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.

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