If you buy something from the links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Why trust us?

9 Benefits of Restorative Yoga: Relax and Start Healing

Restorative yoga can improve your flexibility, enhance your immune system and give your mental health a boost. Despite being a more relaxing form of yoga, it’s just as powerful, helping you sleep better and encouraging greater self-awareness.

Benefits of Restorative Yoga

In this article we’ll explore all the advantages of this gentle form, reviewing the science and opinions of expert yogis, to give you the full picture.

Benefit 1: Restorative yoga can boost your flexibility

1: Restorative yoga can boost your flexibility

Yoga can make you more supple, there are even yoga routines for flexibility that are focused on helping you move more effectively.

Though restorative is a gentler style, you can still enjoy the many health benefits of yoga.

The secret lies in the slow movement, as yogi Esther Ekhart of EkhartYoga describes:

We believe we have to “work” to increase flexibility, but often we achieve more opening in parts of the body that we perceive as tight by softening and relaxing than through an active asana practice.

She goes on to explain that:

During a Restorative yoga sequence, you still stretch, but you relax fully in the stretch so that tension can slowly be released.[1]

Benefit 2: Restorative yoga could improve your mental health

2: Restorative yoga could improve your mental health

This style of yogic exercise is a chance to calm your mind, with research showing its impact on stress, depression and anxiety.

In 2018, a study was conducted involving 33 breast cancer survivors. Participants followed an 8-week restorative program.[2]

At the end of the project they found that depression scores were significantly lower, with the women tested describing the program as very useful.

Further research in Japan focused on 20 female nurses experiencing occupational stress while working the night shift.[3]

After one group session and an at-home program, reductions were seen in their psychological and physical stress reactions.

Experts believe it’s so good for your mental health, because it calms your nervous system…

The “relaxation response”, coined by cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson, is essentially how your mind consciously attempts to relax your body, encouraging it to slow down.[4]

Restorative yoga works on your parasympathetic nervous system, helping to elicit this response.

Benson described how it has the power to “stimulate what needs to be stimulated, and calm down what needs to be calmed”.

Child’s pose, seated forward bend and legs-up-the-wall are thought to be particularly powerful yoga poses for your mental health.

Benefit 3: Restorative yoga promotes a healthier lifestyle

3: Restorative yoga promotes a healthier lifestyle

Research conducted at the University of California focused on 26 overweight and inactive adults with metabolic syndrome. They attended weekly classes over a 15 week period.[5]

The thinking was that the restorative asanas would be a gentle form of movement that could encourage long term, regular exercise.

Results were positive with respondents reporting increased energy levels, as well as an overall improvement in their sense of wellbeing.

Benefit 4: Restorative yoga may help you sleep better

4: Restorative yoga may help you sleep better

A deep dive into the therapeutic advantages of yoga for sleep in 2011, identified restorative asanas in particular.[6]

They highlighted how they gave the nervous system some downtime, making them good poses for a better night’s sleep.

Even better, researchers reiterated how it doesn’t have the side effects often associated with pharmacological treatments.

Benefit 5: Restorative yoga could enhance your immune system

5: Restorative yoga could enhance your immune system

That’s because it encourages you to relax, regulating your inflammatory response.

In her book, Restorative Yoga for Life, renowned teacher Gail Boorstein Grossman describes how it can be great for treating the common cold:

If you suffer from a cold, which typically manifests as upper respiratory congestion and coughing, rest is encouraged and restorative yoga is a great practice supporting this.

This then, in turn, leads to other perks:

You can heal faster when you are well rested, which is one of the benefits of restorative yoga, and there are also specific poses that help relieve sinus pressure, increase circulation, and help you breathe more easily.

Benefit 6: Restorative yoga encourages greater self-awareness

6: Restorative yoga encourages greater self-awareness

We know certain ‘power poses’ help to improve your self esteem, but restful exercise also helps you develop greater self-awareness.

You hone a number of skills including dedication, patience, compassion, skill and courage. It also nurtures your insight and spiritual growth.[7]

With a wonderful list like that, we better show you a few restorative postures for beginners:

YouTube video

Benefit 7: Restorative yoga offers an alternative way to meditate

7: Restorative yoga offers an alternative way to meditate

This more thoughtful way of moving can allow you to enjoy all the amazing benefits of meditation.

Postures are held for extended periods of time and the body is fully supported by props allowing you to go deeper, mentally, into your practice.

Physiotherapist, Vanessa Diamond describes the process:

Restorative yoga is a supported meditation that can be more accessible to some who find traditional seated meditations intimidating…the practitioner can achieve the benefits of the pose while gaining insight into areas of held tension.

Diamond further clarified the point by explaining…

With this increased awareness comes the ability to consciously, overtime, surrender the layers of physical and emotional holding.[8]

Benefit 8: Restorative yoga could support women living with breast cancer

8: Restorative yoga could support women living with breast cancer

Women undergoing breast cancer treatment or survivors living with the disease, face huge challenges to their quality of life.

Following a restorative program, research carried out on a sample of 44 women found that improvements were seen in both fatigue levels and overall emotional wellbeing.[9]

Due to the small sample size, further studies are required, however it was stated that the gentle exercise has many merits for cancer patients.

Benefit 9: Restorative yoga has the potential to prevent type 2 diabetes

9: Restorative yoga has the potential to prevent type 2 diabetes

A number of different metabolic factors, including high blood sugar and excess body fat, increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

Scientists recognised that intensive lifestyle changes were needed to try and prevent the condition, so looked to restorative yoga to see if it could impact these metabolic factors.[10]

A group of 180 participants were tested and followed a regime for 48 weeks. The outcome showed an improved quality of life, and reductions in fast glucose and insulin levels.

It is worth noting, that without continuing the practice though, results were short term.

Time to turn up the heat!

Interested to learn about another style that has merits for both your physical and mental wellbeing?

Breathe better, sleep deeper and feel happier – just a few of the benefits of hot yoga!

Laura Smith


Laura Smith

Associate Editorial Manager

Specialist health & wellbeing writer, passionate about discovering new technologies & sharing the latest research.


  1. Ekhart, E. (2023). Why Restorative Yoga? [Online]. Available from: https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/practice/why-restorative-yoga [Accessed 20 July 2023].
  2. Taylor, T.R. et al (2018). A Restorative Yoga Intervention for African-American Breast Cancer Survivors: a Pilot Study [Online]. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40615-017-0342-4 [Accessed 20 July 2023].
  3. Miyoshi, Y. (2019). Restorative yoga for occupational stress among Japanese female nurses working night shift: Randomized crossover trial [Online]. Journal of Occupational Health. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6842128/ [Accessed 20 July 2023].
  4. Martin, S. (2008). The power of the relaxation response [Online]. Available from: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2008/10/relaxation [Accessed 20 July 2023].
  5. Cohen, B.E. et al (2008). Restorative Yoga in Adults with Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized, Controlled Pilot Trial [Online]. Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6469528/ [Accessed 20 July 2023].
  6. Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life [Online]. International Journal of Yoga. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/ [Accessed 20 July 2023].
  7. Pransky, J. (2018). This Restorative Yoga Practice Will Help You Find Serenity, Now [Online]. Yoga Journal. Available from: https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/find-serenity-now-with-this-restorative-yoga-practice [Accessed 20 July 2020].
  8. Farrell, S. (2015). Restorative Yoga Will Help You Master Meditation [Online]. StyleCaster. Available from: https://stylecaster.com/beauty/beauty/567025/restorative-yoga-meditation/ [Accessed 20 July 2023].
  9. Danhauer, S.C. et al (2009). Restorative yoga for women with breast cancer: findings from a randomized pilot study [Online]. Psycho-Oncology. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930083/ [Accessed 20 July 2023].
  10. Kanaya, A.M. (2014). Restorative yoga and metabolic risk factors: The Practicing Restorative Yoga vs. Stretching for the Metabolic Syndrome (PRYSMS) randomized trial [Online]. Journal of Diabetes and its Complications. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24418351/ [Accessed 20 July 2023].