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Yin yoga versus Restorative yoga - what is the difference?

We live in an era where technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate. We desperately need to reconnect with our center and to respond to life with awareness rather than reacting rashly to what life throws at us. Yoga styles such as yin yoga and restorative yoga can help you balance your busy life. But what exactly is the distinction between restorative and yin yoga? Understanding both practices will help you decide which styles of yoga are best for you.

What is Yin yoga?

Yin yoga assists us in attending to the often-overlooked deep layers of the body, heart, and mind. In addition, yin yoga concentrates on stretching our bodies' deep connective tissues rather than the more surface-level muscular tissue (ligaments, tendons, and fascia). While the method appears simple (holding floor-based postures for several minutes), the results are transformative. Yin yoga is an excellent way to relax and release deeply held physical tension, as well as to release stagnant or blocked energy.

Physically, it can feel far more difficult than a faster-paced, more yang-oriented practice, depending on the posture. Yin yoga postures are typically held for 3-5 minutes and the physical discomfort that occurs after about 1 to 2 minutes in the pose is challenging. This discomfort however contributes to Yin yoga's transformative effects on our connective tissue and fascia. In order to initiate change at the deepest level and enhance or maintain joint flexibility, we want to properly stress our deeper tissues.

Along with the long-held yin yoga poses, the 80% rule is an important concept in Yin yoga. The 80% rule must be followed at all times. It is recommended that we do not exceed 80% of our capacity in the pose in order to stretch the deeper yin tissues. Because if we go too deep into the pose, the pressure will be transferred to the yang muscles, or we will put too much strain on the yin tissues, which will result in injuries. As a result, props like chairs, blocks, bolsters, and blankets are highly encouraged in yin yoga classes.

What is Restorative yoga?

Restorative Yoga is a contemplative practice that uses props such as chairs, blocks, straps, sandbags, bolsters, and blankets to completely support the body, allowing mind and body tension to be released. It is a slow-paced technique for passively releasing deep tension without active stretching.

Restorative yoga is a powerful practice that can help a student restore their body's normal flexibility and mobility when taught by a qualified and experienced teacher. It can help speed up the healing process of the body after an injury or period of inactivity. By gently moving the body and supporting it in various asanas, restorative yoga aids in blood circulation and the prevention of the accumulation of excess fat.

B.K.S. Iyengar developed the practice to assist people with injuries or illnesses in experiencing the profound healing benefits of yoga without overtaxing their bodies. Iyengar promoted the use of restorative yoga supports and modified asanas to help the body relax into positions.

In what way are yin yoga and restorative yoga similar?

Both yin and restorative yoga practices promote relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. The practices help to calm the mind by focusing on the breath. They're gentle and appropriate for people of all ages and skill levels, from beginners to seasoned practitioners.

Also both practices are lovely ways to reconnect with your true self or soul within. The most intriguing aspect of both of these yoga styles is that they teach you to feel. Both yin yoga and restorative yoga focus on developing a strong inner awareness as opposed to speeding through asanas from breath to breath. You become aware of sensations in your body as well as the energy that flows through it. During the practice and afterwards, you become aware of subtle changes in your body and mind.

What are the differences Between yin and restorative Yoga?

Although yin yoga and restorative yoga are often considered similar practices, there are significant differences between the two. Both Yin yoga and restorative yoga are slow-paced, stress-relieving practices, but they are not the same. Yin is all about stretching and gently stressing specific tissues, whereas restorative yoga is all about assisting your body in relaxing and healing.


Props are used in both styles, but props in Yin yoga are used to either help you get into a more beneficial alignment, to deepen the pose, or to keep you from going too deep into the stretch. Props, on the other hand, are used in restorative yoga to completely support your body. Also, restorative yoga typically employs far more props than yin yoga, which may include straps, blankets, blocks, sandbags, and, most notably, bolsters.


Yin yoga poses are held for 3-5 minutes, sometimes up to 7 minutes for advanced students. Poses in Restorative Yoga can be held for 5-10 minutes. Moreover, there is an active stretch in yin yoga, but the goal of restorative yoga is to be completely supported and passive, with no active stretch.

Which style is best for whom?

Restorative yoga focuses on restoring bodies with specific ailments, whereas yin yoga works deep into the connective tissues to activate change. If you are stuck, stiff, need to let go, or are extremely busy, this is an excellent practice. Yin yoga is a very effective way to increase or maintain flexibility because it focuses on the areas around the joints. Regular practice will lubricate joints, release fascia, and improve your yang practices significantly (Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga).

Restorative yoga helps a body that is in need of healing. Restorative yoga poses assist an unhealthy or injured body in restoring itself to its best possible state. As a result, if you have recently been injured or ill, this practice is for you.

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