Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga : A Comparative




I have to admit, I didn’t know what Yin Yoga was when I first heard it. My friend Janine had been practicing for years and I remember thinking it sounded like a restorative class.  I respected the idea of restoration but I never prioritized the practice amidst my daily mysore Ashtanga yoga discipline . As the years when on and my spiritual practice evolved alongside my physical one, I reintroduced myself to Yin Yoga from a new,more receptive and softer place.  I was changed and completely blown away.  I fell head over heels in love with this practice that is so much more than what can be explained using language.  Though Yin and Restorative yoga are both inherently restorative practices, through fully engaging with the practice, I teased off some key differences between the two that I have found through my own practice.

Restorative Yoga is about restoring the overworked and dynamic muscles in addition to engaging in complete pratyahara or sense withdrawal.  In restorative yoga, the student supports the body in postures held for 10 plus minutes at a time, with no distraction from the senses, thus allowing for complete and utter surrender.  There is no “doing” in restorative yoga, it is completely passive which supports the body’s natural ability to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system and recover.

Yin Yoga is also restorative, however the tissues restored are the connective tissue - the ligaments, joints and tendons. As the stabilizers of the body, these are the tissues that support the muscle’s ability to function at its highest capacity.  In a yin class, the passive postures, sequenced to restore and nourish the body’s subtle energetic channels housed within these connective tissues are held for 3 - 5 minutes with a focused attention.  The awareness is actively engaged with the sense body from a receptive and curious perspective, inviting in sensation and meeting its deepest physical edges.  The invitation is to apply mindfulness practices such as a concentrated breath and resourcing awareness to more neutral sensations while in the postures.  

Restorative yoga is best practiced in the evening as a support to wind down.  Also great at the end of a vigorous flow class, restorative postures can give the muscles a much needed break and allow the breath to circulate evenly for a more efficient recovery. Yin Yoga, on the other hand  is best practiced in the morning. Even though it is passive, the connective tissues respond best to the postures when they are cold and not test warmed up.  Definitely include both restorative and yin yoga into your practice repertoire and your body will thank you



My Yin Yoga Classes at Sangha Yoga Shala

Tuesday | 10am

Thursday | 7pm


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