What is the difference between Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga?

Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga are both floor based Yoga practices that use props.

If you looked in the window at people doing these practices, they might look very similar.

However, the feelings that the person experiencing the practice would be very different.

All types of Yoga will have some similarities.

Yang Yoga practices ( relatively faster moving Yoga practices) often use the same type of postures.

Yin style Yoga practices are relatively slower Yoga practices and use some similar postures.

So what is the difference between Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga then?

The intention of the Yoga practice is what drives the experience you have in the Yoga practice.


Yin Yoga 

This is a quiet, slow, contemplative practice that compliments a busy lifestyle or regular yoga practice & other movement practices.

In postures you don’t try to go to your full range of motion, you stay well short of it as you are in the postures for longer. You work deep into the connective tissues and fascia through a series of floor postures, which are held for several minutes – with compassion (it’s not an endurance test!).

You find a point of stillness and stay there ( as long as the sensations within the pose are appropriate). You then adjust the posture to keep the sensations mild – this may involve moving further into the posture or backing out.

This is called playing your edge. Your edge changes while you are in the posture and you move mindfully, according to what you are feeling, not by what the pose “should look like”.

Yin Yoga really builds the mind- body connection – really tuning into your body on the day. Each posture can be used as a mini meditation. You practice with awareness and make adjustments tailored to your own body. Props are used to either help increase or decrease the sensations and support you in the practice.

Yin Yoga improves flexibility, reduces stress, improves emotional, mental health & well being. Yin Yoga helps joint health, mobility and flexibility. Yin Yoga is great to compliment any active Yang or movement practices – whether in sport or in Yoga.


Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga involves the use or props to support the body to completely relax.

It is a way of really resting your body and allowing the body and mind to gently open up.

Restorative Yoga provides a complementary space for both physical and mental relaxation. You can just be – with no agenda or expectation.

The essence of Restorative is in Being not doing.

You don’t try to stretch or hold anything.

It’s about resting comfortably in the posture. The props provide support for this. It is a quiet, slow practice – the use of props truly allows you to progress into deeper states of relaxation & gentle opening of the body and mind.

Restorative Yoga postures are often much longer than Yin postures, so you need to get really comfortable to be able to stay there. You use more props in Restorative Yoga than Yin Yoga – especially blankets for support!

Restorative Yoga can also be used as a meditation. When you come to stillness you are aware of your mind. Restorative Yoga is good for busy people, people with stress in their lives, PTSD, recovering from illness or injury, for those who don’t sleep so well….. for absolutely every body! Restorative Yoga allows you to get in touch with our body mind connection and puts you firmly on the path for relaxation, management and reduction of your stress. You move towards health and wellbeing.

The 2 pictures above are of Child’s pose. A very common Yoga pose.

In a typical movement yoga class this pose might be used at the beginning or end of a class or for mini breaks within a class. Often held for less than 2 mins or far less.

In a Yin Yoga class you might be here for 5 mins with the intention of watching the sensations and shifting as appropriate.

In a Restorative Yoga class you could be here for 10mins or more completely supported by whatever you need to get comfortable to rest fully and let go in this posture.

It’s a classic case of ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

So by looking in a window and seeing some one in e.g Childs pose you might have difficulty in telling what is happening in their practice.

The practitioner however would really feel and notice the difference.

Intention is everything….

What intention are you bringing to your practice today?

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Credit for the title feature image to Courtney Davis Sacred Art.

You can find courtney on the Hill of Tara in his studio and shop!

Tara Open Studio

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