Restorative and yin yoga often get confused, with many people believing they are the same practice. Whilst they share many similarities – they are both relaxing, passive, ‘yin’ practices that focus on cooling and calming the body, rather than strengthening and heating the body in dynamic ‘yang’ practices, there are also many differences between the two.
Byron Yoga Centre offer specialist trainings in Yin Yoga and in Restorative that are aimed at both yoga teachers and practitioners who want to explore these modalities. If you are confused about which practice is right for you here is a Yin Vs Restorative video of the popular forward bend paschimottanasana. Which one resonates with you?
Restorative yoga is derived from Iyengar yoga. BKS Iyengar developed and adapted poses using props and modifications to make the practice accessible for students who were less mobile or working with injuries. Judith Lasater, a student of Iyengar developed this method into restorative yoga in the 1970s.
Yin yoga has been described as new, yet ancient. Holding stretches for long periods of time and other techniques closely related to yin yoga has been practiced for over 2000 years in China and Taiwan as part of Daoist yoga, but it was Paul Grilley who created what we now call yin yoga in the 1970s.
Restorative intends to facilitate deep rest by slowing down movement, the breath and the mind, helping to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
Yin yoga intends to place a small, healthy amount of stress to our joints and connective tissue (fascia, tendons and ligaments) by tensioning or compressing the tissue, which helps to release tension and hydrate the fascia keeping it supple, improving mobility in the body. Yin also helps to move blocked ‘chi’ in the body and nourishes meridians, assisting with emotional, mental and physical health.
Depth of Pose
Restorative poses are designed to be very subtle, with no deep stretching sensations. Typically restorative uses more props so that the practitioner is completely comfortable in the pose, allowing complete surrender and letting go. The poses are designed to gently open the body to allow for the release of tension, deeper breathing and relaxation.
In yin yoga, the practitioner is encouraged to find a deep stretch so typically yin yoga uses fewer props than restorative. In yin poses, we are looking for a healthy deep stretch, often referred to as the Goldilocks Pose – not too much, not too little. Once students find their edge, the fascia begins to release and the poses can also work on an emotional level to facilitate a letting go.
Time of Pose
Restorative poses are typically held from five to twenty minutes. A standard restorative class will include no more than six postures and savasana, whereas yin poses are not held for as long, from two to ten minutes with a one to two minute reset in between each pose.
Both restorative and yin and are beneficial in their own right and are complementary to each other as well as to more dynamic yang practices.