The Benefits of Restorative Yoga for New Parents

Published on: January 20, 2020

When it comes to the period of early parenthood, restorative yoga can provide you with deep rest and compensation for a lack of sleep. 

By Anfisa Grigorova

Imagine a yoga class where you are mastering the ability of doing nothing and the skill of relaxation. When you have a newborn or toddler this may sound especially tempting. However, restorative yoga is not as popular as it should be as the pinnacle of all yogis.  Yet Restorative Yoga (RY) is a great practice to strengthen the body and the immune system. 

In a busy modern life, we often underestimate the importance of rest and nourishment. We tend to take for granted what we have and look for what we lack.  We keep pushing ourselves, aiming to be as efficient as possible. Even yoga, the science of wellbeing and balance has fallen victim to the push for greater alignment, challenge, results, and progress. Over the past 200 years, yoga was mainly practiced and taught by men. Perhaps, what is why in classes there is a strong masculine competitive component that passed from teacher to teacher. The focus is on the performance of the body in asanas: holding the pose longer, bending deeper.  There are so many pictures on Instagram of yoga practitioners showing progress: “This is me in 2015/and this is me today…”. Progress is good but should not be the sole focus of what yoga is about.    

As a yoga instructor, I often hear “I am not designed for yoga” or “I’m not flexible enough”. Yoga is not a sport with parameters, not a challenge or marathon with winners. Yoga is a toolbox with a variety of exercises, breathing and meditation techniques that serve everybody, giving both: challenge – to grow and nourishment – to sustain. 

When you are a new parent it is especially interesting to find out what yoga has to offer for nurturing the body. The challenging part is naturally covered by your little one.  Here are several restorative asanas to improve your skills of relaxation and overcome the most common postpartum complaints.  


Backache or tension is a common problem, the origin of which is either from feeding or carrying your growing baby in your arms.  

There is one popular restorative asana that helps to release your tight upper back, shoulders, chest and neck muscles. This pose is called Reclining Bridge Pose (picture 1). It also dispels lung congestion, providing better oxygenation that leads to increased energy levels.  

Picture 1: Reclining Bridge Pose

How to practice:

Arrange 2 long pillows, bolsters or folded blankets in a T-position on the floor.  Lie down so that your shoulder blades come over the end of the bolster and your head rests on the floor. The second bolster supports your lower back, pelvis, thighs, calves, and feet. Your arms should be open to the sides like a cactus-shape.  


Releasing stress and anxiety 

Picture 2: Savasana

Restorative yoga is the most effective natural way to reduce anxiety. If it is regularly practiced, it can be a powerful way to reprogram your body’s automatic responses to stress. One of the best positions to promote feelings of calm and balance is Savasana (picture 2).Try this variation for 5-7 min and see how you feel after.

How to practice:

Lie down on the floor or a yoga mat with a long pillow as a support for your knees. Place a rice pack, sandbag or anything that does not fall and has some weight to your belly. With each inhalation draw the air into your belly lifting the objects that you chose. As you exhale, witness how it falls.  Inhale – expand your belly and chest; exhale – relax and let the sandbag drop down towards your spine.  

Energy boost 

Postpartum is a time that requires a lot of physical and emotional energy. To be well it is important to find a way to restore and get your energy back. Since uninterrupted sleep is not an option, let’s try a “yogic sleep” or Yoga Nidra in legs up the wall pose (picture 3).

Picture 3: Legs up the wall pose

How to practice:

Place a bolster or similar prop next to the wall. Find your way to “legs up the wall” pose with your sacrum and lower back on your prop. Close your eyes and scan your body with your inner attention. Relax each part of your body as you move with your inner gaze from your toe to your head. Stay in the pose for 5-10 min, taking long and slow breaths.   

Feeling sad, emotional 

Becoming a mother can feel overwhelming. Taking care of your baby, holding huge responsibility for their health, happiness, and comfort. But that does not mean you have to forget about your own comfort and joy. We all have an inner child within us and this kid has a right to be tired, emotional, expressive and supported. There is nothing wrong or weird about wishing to talk, having a little break or asking for help.  In yoga there is a pose that gives you a feeling of being held, nurtured and protected – Side Lying Savasana or Embryo Pose (picture 4).

Picture 4: Embryo Pose

How to practice:

Take as many props as you need to feel comfortable on the floor. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, with your inner gaze find your feet, arms, upper body, and head. Feel yourself supported and held by gravity. The same way you hold your baby – the Earth holds you. It is so simple and natural, yet we never paying attention to this fact, ‘taking what we have for granted”. Sometimes a little bit of attention and appreciation helps to manage hard emotions.

Stay for 10-15 min to feel grounded and calm.  You can practice these poses together as a sequence or just choose the one you find most useful in snatched moments when your baby is settled. Even just a few minutes per day of restorative yoga can greatly improve your mood and energy levels, best of all it doesn’t feel like exercise, yet it is raising your oxygenation and lowering your stress levels.  In the long run, it is an investment into your hormonal balance, metabolism, stamina and emotional well-being.  

I also believe that by knowing when it’s time to rest and slow down we show our children how to take care of themselves by giving the best example.   

Photos courtesy of the author. 

About the Author

Anfisa Grigorova, originally from Russia is a professional teacher who used to run a small kindergarten in Vietnam, where she lived before moving to Thailand with her husband Albert. She has always been fascinated by the human body and mind and got into the path of yoga. In 2015 she started to support women during pregnancy and postpartum by teaching therapeutic yoga. A bit later she became a birth doula.

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