Did you know that Yin yoga and restorative yoga are not the same things?

Set the alarm off! Many folks don’t! 

However, despite their apparent similarities, these styles of yoga are highly distinct.

The practices appear to be similar on the surface; they both include prolonged stays,, are slow and introverted activities, and place more emphasis on slowly expanding the body than on dynamic movement. Which of these yoga poses should you select if you want to unwind and decompress? So, Yin vs Restorative Yoga – let us understand these styles in detail.

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin Yoga focuses on strengthening, lengthening, and stretching the connective tissues in the body, especially the fascia. To enhance strength and flexibility, promote joint mobility, correct posture, and release traumatic stress in the body, postures are maintained for 3-5 minutes each and work with the power meridians in your body. This style also cultivates active stretching in your connective tissues.

Because of the intensity of the postures and the duration of each one, Yin courses can be difficult. You have the freedom to experiment because of the various tweaks and alternatives teachers provide for how deep you may go in a posture. A position can change as your body relaxes if you hold it for three to five minutes, which is the typical amount of time advised for many poses. Fantastic examples of Yin postures that become deeper with time include half-pigeon and frog. When you are doing Yin yoga, you might want to attempt a meditation or a pranayama method if you find it difficult to hold postures for an extended period or if you have difficulties relaxing in savasana

Yin yoga may be precisely what you need to restore some balance to your life if you have trouble slowing down and being still.

Yin yoga is the ideal counterbalance to the ferocious “yang” energy you could experience from other yoga styles like vinyasa or power yoga. “The floor-based, passive, extended yoga postures that make up Yin yoga often target the legs, hips, and spine. Experts say that “With TCM elements (Traditional Chinese Medicine – which divides the body into five elements such as the liver, heart, pancreas, kidney, and lungs) infused into this style, its name sets it apart from more vigorous and energizing “yang” yoga asana practices”. 

Traditional Yin yoga poses are maintained for three to five minutes in each pose to access the body’s deep muscle tissue (or fascia), which is difficult to reach with only brief stretching sessions. Instead of stretching these tissues, the purpose of this technique is to stress them by providing mild, continuous traction, compression, or shearing. That load appears to enhance collagen production and connective tissue hydration, both of which contribute to greater strength and resilience. For instance, to reach the deepest parts of the hips, you may sink into the pigeon pose (Eka pada rajakapotasana) and hold it for three to five minutes.

Yin is a profoundly physical kind of meditation that also has mental advantages. Beyond the practice’s physical advantages, Yin yoga can provide an understanding of the subtle body’s energy channels. Due to the focus on stillness, it can also help students unwind from the fast-paced nature of modern life and test their ability to sit with and process sensations. Myofascial interceptors may even trigger the parts of the brain where emotions are stored, according to recent studies. Therefore, if you start crying during Yin yoga, don’t be startled; it happens to the best of us.

The Benefits of Yin Yoga

Stretching your connective tissues is the main goal of the practice of Yin yoga (fascia, ligaments, tendons, and joints). It strengthens and lengthens them past the point of comfort but stops short of genuine agony. Traditional poses are held for three to five minutes each and work with your body’s energy channels. It is intended to exert mild, prolonged traction, compression, or shearing on these issues.

The greatest time to practice Yin is when the muscles are cold to avoid having them rob the deeper tissues of the stretch. Other beneficial times to practice include first thing in the morning to assist the body wake up or right before bed to help the mind relax before sleeping. When your life has become stressful and you need to achieve a balance between your mind and body, as well as after a lengthy vacation, you could discover that this practice is quite helpful.

Some of the benefits of Yin yoga are:

  • Increasing range of motion and flexibility
  • keeping joints flexible and healthy
  • enhancing posture
  • Increasing concentration and focus 

Purpose of Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga is done without any muscular engagement since its goal is to expand the fascia and connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, etc.) rather than the muscles. As a result, there is no need to warm up or conduct flow-based yoga before a Yin practice. The optimum times to practice Yin are in the morning and before physical exercise because when muscles are “warm” (blood has been transported to the muscles in reaction to contracting and relaxing them), they will “steal” the flexibility from the fascia and connective tissues.

Guiding Principles

  • Depth of the pose: Find your edge by avoiding going as deep as you can into the posture. On a scale of 1 (nothing) to 10 (maximum intensity), stop at a feeling level of around 5. You are always allowed to extend a position as the body releases, break a pose, or back off if you feel you have gone too far.
  • Be still: The secret to recovering via Yin is observing the sensation in your body without fidgeting to divert yourself. Adjustments are welcomed and should be done, but moving around or fidgeting to divert attention from little pain is not advised since it keeps you from becoming aware of the present.
  • Hold the position: To give the fascia and tissues enough time to relax, each Yin stance is held for 3-5 minutes (occasionally up to 8 or 11 minutes). Students should try to let go of thoughts and concerns while concentrating on the breath and sensations throughout the hold.

What is Restorative Yoga? 

Blocks, belts, sandbags, bolsters, and blankets are among the props used in the contemplative practice of restorative yoga to promote the passive release of tension in the body and mind. Without active stretching, this technique helps to passively relieve deep tension.

By calming the nerve system, “restorative yoga” strives to provide profound mental and physical relaxation. We frequently rely on our sympathetic nervous system in daily life, which activates our fight-or-flight response and gets us ready to “fight” anything that comes our way.

Long, passive yoga postures and a ton of props are used in restorative yoga to relax the nervous system and return us to our “rest and digest” condition. Restorative yoga has the potential to have profound effects on heart rate, blood pressure, breath rate, digestion, resting muscular tension, mental state, weariness, and even perception of pain.

Restorative yoga may first resemble Yin, but the two are distinct. Yin yoga often involves some degree of tissue feeling in the stretched, twisted, or compressed area. Although the body may be supported by props, a big part of the practice is learning to sit with that experience and look at how one reacts to it. The goal of restorative yoga, on the other hand, is to, well, wrap you up like a baby so that you can relax with little to no effort. The benefit is a considerably longer stay in each pose—anywhere from five to 20 minutes. In restorative yoga, the set-up may be extensive including many supports positioned particularly to hold the body’s weight and off-load the joints.

A basic child’s pose or balasana, with your head supported by blocks and a blanket placed between your hips and feet for further support, is one example of restorative yoga asana.

The Benefits of Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga helps to achieve poses that are comfortable and easy to relax in and promote good health. It is a practice that is appropriate for persons of various ages, yoga experience levels, and physical health. By focusing on opening rather than stretching and soothing the nervous system, restorative yoga helps us get back to our “rest and digest” condition.

Pose durations are often longer, ranging from two to twenty minutes, and props like blankets, bolsters, and blocks are used to support the body. Students can enter a deep level of relaxation and calmness as a result of the relaxed and peaceful environment this generates.

Anytime you have the room and time to practice restorative yoga is the perfect time to do it. You can perform restorative yoga in the morning, midday, or night. To start the day off well and gradually awaken the body and mind, you might wish to practice as soon as you wake up. Stretching your muscles after an aerobic activity can be something you’d like to practice. Or perhaps you’d want to practice as part of your nightly wind-down ritual to get ready for a restful night’s sleep.

Some of the benefits of Restorative Yoga are:

  • Improves relaxation
  • Increases sensation of safety in the body and mind
  • Improves sleep cycles
  • Enhances physical and mental health
  • Lowers in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Develops a state of thoughtful sleep
  • Enhances happiness
  • Minimizes pain

Purpose of Restorative Yoga

In the same way that the goal of Yin yoga can be encapsulated as a physical release, the goal of restorative yoga can be summed up as mental release. Restorative yoga promotes nervous system health by giving the nervous system time to thoroughly relax and recover, focusing less on gaining flexibility and releasing the physical tissues. Restorative yoga helps us transition from “fight or flight” mode (the sympathetic nervous system) to “rest and digest,” which relieves physical stress and increases flexibility (the parasympathetic nervous system). This has been shown to improve digestion, reduce cortisol levels and tension, and give our bodies time to perform “housekeeping.

The History of Yin and Restorative Yoga

Although both Yin and restorative yoga are relatively young and have gained popularity in the past 50 years, they originate from two separate traditions of yoga.

Hatha yoga, which B. K. S. Iyengar, established in the 1950s, includes restorative yoga. Hatha is a traditional yoga style with Indian roots designed to strengthen and stretch the body to prepare for sitting meditation. It was designed as a practice so that students may improve their alignment in postures while releasing pressure from their bodies and muscles during extended stays. The pupil can unwind and relax thanks to the usage of props.

With the publication of her book Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times in 1993, Judith Lasater helped make this technique more well-known. Judith is one of the co-founders of Yoga Journal and an adherent of Iyengar Hatha Yoga.

Yin yoga derives from the ancient Taoist tradition of China and incorporates the five element theory as well as the Yin and yang concepts utilized in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. To counteract the yang style of Hatha yoga, Paulie Zink established the tradition in the late 1980s. Through prolonged holds, Yin yoga is intended to help the fascia (connective tissue) open up to increase flexibility and mobility. In more recent times, Paul Grilley, Bernie Clark, and Sarah Powers have made this method more widely accepted.

The Difference between Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga

Both of these exercises are slow, contemplative exercises that emphasize extended holds, so that’s one way they’re comparable. How do they differ?

  • Stretch: Unlike restorative yoga, which emphasizes complete support and passive stretching without any active stretching, Yin yoga involves an active stretch.
  • Focus: While restorative yoga has an emphasis on the passive release of tension in the mind and body, Yin yoga emphasizes stretching your connective tissues.
  • Props: They are permitted in both forms of yoga, however when they are used in Yin yoga, they are either employed to deepen or soften the stretch. To fully support your body during restorative yoga, props are needed. Contrary to Yin, restorative yoga typically uses a far greater number of supports, such as straps, blankets, blocks, and other accessories.
  • Pose: Yin yoga postures are held for around 3-5 minutes, whereas restorative yoga postures can be maintained for anywhere between 5-10 minutes.

Depth of Pose

Restorative postures are intended to be extremely gentle and not cause intense stretching. More props are typically used in restorative poses so that the practitioner is entirely at ease and may surrender and let go. The positions are intended to gently expand the body to promote relaxation, deeper breathing, and the release of tension.

Yin yoga encourages the practitioner to reach a deep stretch, therefore it often employs less support than restorative yoga. We want a healthy deep stretch in Yin postures, sometimes known as the Goldilocks Pose because it should be just right—not too much, nor too little. Once students reach their boundary, the fascia starts to relax, and the postures can also help with letting go emotionally.

Time of Pose

The duration of restorative postures ranges from five to twenty minutes. Yin poses are maintained for shorter periods, ranging from two to ten minutes with a one- to two-minute break in between each pose, as opposed to the six postures and savasana that make up a typical restorative session.

Both Yin and restorative techniques are advantageous in and of themselves and are compatible with more active yang practices.

Which is best? Yin vs Restorative Yoga!

You’re ready to choose (or, you know, just practice both) now that you’re familiar with these two “sukha” forms of yoga! If you’re still unsure of which style would work best for you at this stage of life, then here is some advice. Yin yoga may be most beneficial for people who are engaging in physically intensive exercise that has to be matched with deep stretching since it is more physically and psychologically taxing. But there are restrictions. The persistent stress supplied to our connective tissue also may not always be suitable, for example during the first stages of the recovery after a soft tissue or joint injury or just before severe physical exercise.

While restorative yoga may be performed no matter what is going on in your life. “Contrarily, restorative yoga can help individuals who are fully exhausted. Again, with professional guidance, it may frequently be used as part of longer-term trauma therapy regimens or when one is exhausted, unwell, or injured. For children who are currently experiencing intense stress, trauma, loss, or anxiety, however, the absence of physical stimulation may have the opposite of the anticipated soothing impact “She clarifies. Okay, so if you have to pick only one, Yin yoga is more stretching for the body and mind than restorative yoga, so take that as you will.

Result: Is One Superior To The Other?

Numerous advantages of Yin and restorative yoga overlap, as seen by the bulleted lists above. Each type provides a different experience, neither of which is superior to the others. So, is one superior to the other? You determine that. Yin may be the appropriate practice for you if you’re seeking one with greater mental and physical advantages. On the other side, you may want to try restorative yoga if you’re searching for a nourishing and supporting practice that relieves tension and weariness. As a result, if you already practice one of these methods, you could discover that you also adore the other!

Authors
Devina Prasad

Devina Prasad

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SriLakshmi

SriLakshmi

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