The Similarities Between Yin and Restorative Yoga

Taking time to reset with a soothing and mellow yoga class is one my favorite ways to feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle the world. Deep stretching and focused breathing help relieve stress and realign the body. When deciding which classes to take when you want to zen out, yin yoga and restorative yoga are both popular practices focusing on this. Often these two styles are interchanged, and while they do hold similarities, they are, in fact, two separate entities. Here’s all you need to know about the commonalities and differences of yin and restorative yoga.

The Similarities

Yin and Restorative yoga are both extremely rehabilitative in nature. Think deep stretches held for longer periods of time. Over the course of a 75-minute class, you may only move through 6-8 poses. Both practices focus on opening the body by working slow and steady. Lay back, and settle in.

The Differences

Restorative yoga is intended to be as little work as possible. A multitude of props are used to support the body in various postures. Bolsters, straps, yoga blocks and blankets – even the wall work to provide a sense of comfort. As you remain in the given poses, you’ll notice your muscles start to soften a little; your joints start to loosen up; you can sink a bit deeper. But don’t get confused, my friend. You’ll notice all of these things happening during yin yoga also. The difference is that it might take more work and it will take you into deeper layers of your connective tissue… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Back to restorative. As you move through a restorative class, its nature is soothing and healing. You can allow your mind to drift off, maybe right into sleep.

Bottom line: During restorative yoga you’re realigning the body and resting the mind through a comfortable series of poses held for at least three minutes each.

In contrast to Restorative yoga, Yin yoga takes a bit more mental toughness. Here you’re similarly holding poses for an extended period of time. However, as stated above, you’ll be working deeper into the connective tissues. Rather than being completely supported in a position, you split the support between props and actual effort. Here’s the perfect example. Pigeon pose feels great… for about 30-60 seconds. After that it begins to get a little uncomfortable and you start to get fidget-y; your mind starts to say “Just move out of it; you don’t want to be here anymore. Next move, please!” Enter: mental toughness. Yin yoga incorporates mentally pushing through these moments as you move through the layers. Your brain fires to assist you through three to five minutes of sinking deeper—even when you get the urge to wiggle around.

Both practices are perfect if you’re looking to chill out and loosen up, and many times both styles of yoga are integrated into the same class. Give them both a try, and see which you prefer. But fair warning, you’re going to leave class feeling very relaxed and on a bit of a yoga high – which isn’t a bad thing, trust me.

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