3 Restorative Yoga Poses for Your Parasympathetic Nervous System


Yoga poses for your parasympathetic nervous system? Whoa Rachel, enough with the fancy words already! I know, I know, but listen up, the parasympathetic nervous system is something we should all be trying to understand right now because this world is absolutely and undeniably CRAZY. So, hang in there with me while I give you a little look into your nervous system!

If you were paying attention during high school biology then I am sure you heard the terms “fight or flight” and “rest and digest”. Well, they were talking about your nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for your fight or flight response, and you guessed it, the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for you rest and digest response.

Most of us spend our time with an active sympathetic nervous system. Things that contribute to this are stress, constant multitasking, and overstimulation. Sound familiar?!

These two systems work together, so that means when one is active the other isn’t. If you’re constantly fighting or flighting (?), then you’re not allowing your body to rest and digest. Not allowing yourself to really rest causes a whole bunch of other problems. So how do you actually tap into the awesome benefits of the parasympathetic nervous system? 

Stimulating the Parasympathetic Nervous System

Two main things that can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system are deep breathing and slowing down. Once we settle our bodies into a slower pace and bring some real awareness into our breath, we begin to move into a space of rest and digest. Our breath is one of the body systems that we can actually control. Once we begin to slow it down our heart rate and nervous system follows. Want a few more tips on breathing, check out this post! I know this all sounds simple enough, but mom life can be a lot! So roll out your yoga mat, stay in your stretchy pants, and grab some blankets and pillows.

Restorative Yoga Poses for your Parasympathetic Nervous System

Child’s Pose

Get that forehead down and your eyes closed, this gives you a protected and safe feeling which has an instant calming effect on the brain. Add in some big deep breaths and a kid screaming “Mom!” in the background and its a regular tropical vacation.

Reclined Bound Angle

I use ALL the props for this pose so feel free to grab the cushions off your couch or even your nursing pillow to get as comfortable as possible.

Wide-angle Seated Forward Fold

If my husband ever finds me in this pose, he backs away slowly. It’s a telltale sign that it has been a rough day.

Don’t feel like you have to come into the actual stretch if it’s too intense. You can get so much benefit just by putting your forehead down on something grounding and solid (the floor, your desk at work, the kitchen table!) and closing your eyes.


Have a favorite restorative yoga pose that relaxes you? Share it in the comments! And if you are ever looking to add a little more yoga to your day you can find me on FaceBook and Instagram.

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Hello, I'm Rachel! I was born and raised in a small town in Southern Maine. Now I live in Seacoast New Hampshire with my ruggedly handsome husband, our sweet son, dog, and two cats. I received my degree in Marine Biology from Hawai'i Pacific University and soon after graduating I moved to Boston and began working in animal medicine. A few years after getting married, my husband and I found ourselves moving to New Hampshire and expecting our son. Now you can find me teaching yoga classes throughout Seacoast New Hampshire. I have traveled a bunch, LOVE the ocean, I always have a thousand "projects" happening at once, love a good workout, and have found the perfect balance between lazy weekends and having adventures.