March 16, 2022

Yin Or Restorative?

Do you know the difference between Yin and Restorative Yoga? I didn’t!

I thought they were pretty much the same thing. After all, the pace of the classes are similar, you hold poses for longer than in a standard yoga class, use more props and some of the poses even look similar. How wrong was I?!

It was during the Yoga Unwrapped© Teacher Training with Heather Yoga when we spent a wonderful afternoon with Adam Hocke exploring the practice of Restorative Yoga, that the difference became clear to me.

As with many things with yoga the difference between Yin and Restorative yoga is not about how the poses look, but how they feel, that counts and this is the fundamental distinction between these two wonderful and complementary practices.

Yin works deep down, and holding the poses for a longer period of time allows the body to surrender to a deeper level. Yin aims to put moderate stress on bones and connective tissue including fascia. These are thought, in Chinese medicine, to have the Yin qualities of cooling, binding, slow changing and passivity, while muscles are considered to be Yang; warm, active and faster changing. We therefore need to balance our faster practices of Vinyasa Flow or Yang practice with slower postures targeting the deeper tissue. Yin also stimulates our body’s energy channels or meridians to encourage the flow of chi as well as improving circulation to our joints and tissues.

Restorative yoga on the other hand aims to have almost no stretch allowing parts of the body to expand and others contract. The practice of restorative yoga is all about switching off thought, and using slow and gentle movement to switch on the parasympathetic or ‘rest and restore’ nervous system, thus allowing the body to heal. The challenging part of this practice is relaxing into the posture while allowing the mind to slow down and drift inwards. As with Judith Hanson Lasater’s advice, who is considered to be the pioneer of restorative yoga, we are aiming to ‘let the body rest, while the mind watches’ during restorative practice. This is why we do restorative yoga in almost every yoga class by ending in Savasana.

Both these practices are valuable in our busy fast paced world, giving us time to slow down. So no need to choose between the two practices, it’s important to develop a good balance of faster paced Vinyasa for your muscles, slower Yin for your connective tissue and yet slower still Restorative for your parasympathetic nervous system. Your body and mind will thank you.

To sum up as described by one of my fellow trainees- “Yin is the one that hurts the following day!”

Cathy is about to graduate from our Yoga Unwrapped© Yoga Teacher Training (next course starts this April 22). If you are curious to dive into the experience of Yoga Education & Self Development head here.

Interested in trying out Restorative Yoga?  Join us for Yoga Unplugged – Restorative Yoga: Relax, Rejuvenate and Rebalance. Friday 8th April at 7.45pm – 9.15pm (Studio & Online). Book here.