Do you know the Difference Between Restorative and Yin Yoga?

Restorative Yoga and Yin Yoga are two practices that offer unique pathways to relaxation and rejuvenation. Let’s look into what sets them apart and how they can benefit you.

Restorative Yoga: A Sanctuary of Supported Surrender

Restorative yoga, largely pioneered by B.K.S Iyengar and further refined by Judith Lasater and other teachers, was originally designed for individuals navigating health challenges. Unlike its more vigorous counterparts, restorative yoga invites you to effortlessly melt into postures, facilitating healing without demanding strenuous effort or extensive mobility. While initially crafted for specific health needs, restorative yoga’s embrace now extends to anyone seeking deep rest and restoration in their practice.

Imagine sinking into a cloud-like cocoon of bolsters and blankets, effortlessly surrendering to the gentle support. Extended periods in each pose encourage the release of tension, with a focus on nurturing the body’s deep interior, including its organs. Typically lasting between 10 to 20 minutes, these poses induce minimal sensation, prompting activation of the parasympathetic nervous system and inviting profound relaxation.

Within the realm of restorative yoga exists a spectrum of relaxation levels. While some variations are exceedingly gentle, others incorporate mildly active poses in a restorative context. For instance, engaging in a supported forward fold or a reclined backbend on a chair can be deemed restorative, as they blend mindful activity with supportive release.

Yin Yoga: Embracing Sensation for Transformation

Yin Yoga is inspired by the ancient Taoist philosophies of yin and yang – opposite but complimentary principles in nature. Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, yin yoga invites ‘chi’ or ‘Qi’ to move through your body’s meridians (energy highways). When you practise yin yoga you will sometimes experience strong sensations – which can make yin more physically and mentally challenging than restorative yoga.

In contrast to the emphasis on support and minimal sensation in restorative yoga, yin yoga draws upon ancient principles of prolonged pose-holding, typically focusing on floor-based postures that nurture the health of connective tissues and promote fascial hydration.

Yin yoga revolves around the notion that tissues thrive on appropriate stress, fostering resilience, suppleness, and strength. By exerting gentle pressure on connective tissues and ligaments through prolonged passive postures, typically lasting 3 to 5 minutes, yin yoga fosters mobility, circulation, and flexibility. As students advance, they may extend the duration of poses, deepening their practice over time.

While yin yoga can induce relaxation and tranquility, the presence of sensation ensures it’s not always a completely comfortable experience. Yet, this discomfort, often described as a gentle “holding” sensation, contributes to its restorative qualities, replenishing the body’s vital energies.

Find out more about my monthly Deep Stretch Yin classes at the Barn in Houlton, Rugby.

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