Effects / Benefits: Restorative Yoga Part 1

People Experience Poses Differently

  • The following effects may be associated with this pose.
  • Knowing such common effects is typically useful for planning sequences. However, since there are no universal truths in how different people experience poses, please use caution with this information.
  • For example, rather than telling students what to expect when practicing a pose or technique, you may wish to invite them to take note of effects on their breathing and their mind, and what they feel in their body.

See Also

Energy, Mood, Emotion

  1. Balances nervous system.
  2. Increases energy, rejuvenates.
  3. Leads to more restful sleep.
  4. Brings clarity of thought.
  5. Creates a greater sense of inner balance.
  6. Hatha Yoga Pradapika refers to Viparita Karani as a way to reverse the aging process.

Inner Body

  1. Deeper breath massages internal organs.
  2. Releasing layers of tension and balancing nervous system creates a healing environment, often improving or restoring functioning of all systems and organs of body.
  3. Replenishes adrenal glands.
  4. Improves blood oxygenation.
  5. As an inversion, Legs Up the Wall triggers the Relaxation Response which benefits the digestion and immune systems.

Legs Up the Wall also reverses the effects of gravity on the circulatory system:

  • Rich blood is brought to the brain and glands in upper body
  • Blood that normally pools in legs and abdomen is brought back to heart
  • The heart rests

Increasing Breath Awareness in Balasana

There are few other postures that offer an opportunity for breath awareness like Child’s pose. When we lie in Child’s pose, the abdomen is constricted against the thighs, which constrains our full-frontal chest breathing (the normal way we breathe). So the belly can only expand so far with the inhale breath, and if we want to inhale deeply we have to breathe around the ribs and into the back of the lungs. While it may feel uncomfortable, being forced to breathe slower and longer is good for you – helping to slow down the heart rate, which in turn helps slow down breathing. – Kathy Kruger


  • Neither strengthens nor stretches muscles; rather, Restorative Yoga releases muscular (as well as emotional and energetic) tension
  • Is said to strengthen diaphragm over time

Therapeutic Uses*

  • Anxiety (Legs Up the Wall)
  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Leg fatigue or swelling (Legs Up the Wall)
  • Low back pain
  • Pain
  • Stress
* This pose is often associated with positive effects related to the conditions listed. But unless trained in yoga therapy, teachers are usually advised against “prescribing” particular asanas to address specific conditions.

More on Benefits/Therapeutics

The body prepares itself for action through a series of physiological changes, such as increased heart rate, increased blood flow to the muscles, and brain activation—part of the sympathetic nervous system, the system that is triggered when we are in a dangerous or fight-or-flight situation. Triggered too often, it can put a strain on our bodies and damage organs.

The good news is, there are ways to reverse damage and help your body relax and heal itself. Exercise and sleep alone are not the answer. They do not completely relax the body… The parasympathetic system reduces heart rate, promotes digestion, and produces chemicals that help heal damaged organs. To trigger these important benefits, you need to allow your body to completely relax. (Physiology of Relaxation by Dr. Roger Cole) …

Restorative Yoga—Active Rest—allows your body to completely relax because it is supported and opening at the same time. Active yoga, the kind you do in most yoga classes, is great for opening and stretching but is not [typically] supported and relaxing. A combination of active yoga and Restorative Yoga will keep your body flexible and healthy. These conditions must be present to create complete relaxation:

  1. Give yourself permission to be still and take time out
  2. Relax the muscles
  3. Be in a safe, quiet, dark, warm place that allows your hands and feet to be warm
  4. Quiet the brain and breath, and support the body
  5. Quiet the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system

Complete relaxation (resting deeply) of the body through Restorative Yoga poses will create a state that helps the body restore itself and leave you feeling renewed and energized.

Offeredto Yoga Teacher Central from Milo Minnis