Yin Yoga vs Restorative Yoga~ever wondered what's the difference and how would you choose which one?
Whilst the benefits and ultimate goal of these styles of Yoga are to experience a Yin (calm, introverted, contemplative, peaceful, rested, nurtured) state of being there is a difference in how the Asana (postures) are practiced. In my own plain and simple terms I would describe the modern, recently developed practice Yin Yoga as finding your edge in the range of a joint, possibly with the use of props to support if range is limited, and then softening into that. So discomfort is welcomed and the stretch is quite active. Where as Restorative Yoga uses all the props you can to fill the gaps so you are 100% supported and comfortable, the stretch is passive and inactive and the idea is to surrender the nervous system whilst in the lesser range of the joint.
Yin Yoga is a focus on stretching the connective tissues and fascia. The new method is often taught with relationship to the meridians stimulated in that particular pose shape. Because it increases joint range it can be beneficial in improving posture, joint health and mobility. The essence is all about slowing down into stillness, finding your edge and teaching the mind and the nervous system to find comfort in the discomfort through breath (a skill we need for navigating life). This also helps bring mindFULness into the practice and can be highly beneficial for athletes, busy stressed mind and stiff body types (I wouldn't recommend it for the hyper mobile ~ my #1 rule in Yoga is if you are really good at it you probably don't need it, we grow from what challenges us most). This practice would benefit personality types who fear change/growth and have a tendency to avoid discomfort. Whilst the term Yin is part of the ancient practice, this new style coined 'Yin Yoga' as described above was developed by Paulie Zink, and shared around the world by Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers. Yin Yoga poses are usually held for around 3-5mins each side.
Restorative Yoga encourages a passive release of mind and body tension using a variety and often many props for one pose. This practice is working more closely with the nervous system and releasing trauma, especially beneficial where tension is being held in the muscles due to emotional or mental stress. It is a really good practice for personality Type A, find it hard to do nothing, to rest and let go, the highly anxious and over achievers who would prefer to be in the 'extreme' or 'ultimate' version of the pose but instead could benefit more from learning to surrender into the lesser subtler version allowing props (including chairs, straps, bolsters, blankets, sandbags, belts) to support you (another great life lesson). Highly beneficial for anyone in trauma, unwell, injured or requiring deep rest and rejuvenation. With the use of limbering before a pose it can also be better for those if joint range is very limited or injured. A much preferred practice for the hypermobile ('floppy') body types because they don't overstretch. Initially a program designed by B K S Iyengar and then more recently developed and popularised by Judith Lasater. Restorative Yoga poses can be held up to 5-10mins each side.
When I trained as a Yoga Teacher this Yin Yoga style mentioned above wasn't as well known and we were taught poses are categorised as either Yin or Yang, those that induce a 'Yin' state (eg Janu Sirsasana - Head-to-knee pose ~calm, introverted, contemplative, peaceful, rested, nurtured) and those that induce a 'Yang' state (eg Warrior II ~ active, energising, uplifting, movement, stimulating flow, strength and stamina) so a class could be designed to approach one single desired state when needed, or a balance of the two. Therefore one of my Yin classes from my old school teacher training could be considered a combination of both these Yin + Restorative styles. Both being highly beneficial in finding your calm, nurtured and restored Self. I recommend being mindful of over stretching if you are hypermobile by reducing effort, range and increase props as a more Restorative practice rather than Yin.
As you explore the two find out which one it is you're needing more of, what does your body or personality type benefit from more? I would love to hear from you if you need more personalised prop suggestions or alternatives in your Yin/Restorative practice.
Keen to explore you Yin'ish Self over the weekend?
NEW - Rest'n Restore
NEW - Restore My Hips
Yin - Whole Body Release & Nidra
Yin - Restore Upper Body
Yin for Hips (great for lower back and hamstrings too)
Yin for Thoracic, Neck & Shoulders (great for mid-back and postural, chest tension)
Restore - Spinal Reset
Restorative Yoga - Evening Release
Sweet Savasana Yoga Nidra (the ultimate restore without moving!)