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Is Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga the same?

Restorative and yin yoga often get confused, with many people believing they are the same practice. Whilst they share many similarities – they are both relaxing, passive, ‘yin’ practices that focus on cooling and calming the body, rather than strengthening and heating the body in dynamic ‘yang’ practices. I am trying to shed some light in this blog.

Origin - both ancient but born in the Western World in the 70ies

Restorative yoga is derived from Iyengar yoga. BKS Iyengar developed and adapted poses using props and modifications to make the practice accessible for students who were less mobile or working with injuries. Judith Lasater, a student of Iyengar developed this method into restorative yoga in the 1970s. So the RESTOREative Yoga serves us to hold a pose as comfortable as possible and to let the body heal and be without looking for any stretches or major Sensations.

Yin yoga has been described as new, yet ancient. Holding stretches for long periods of time and other techniques closely related to yin yoga has been practiced for over 2000 years in China and Taiwan as part of Daoist yoga, but it was Paul Grilley who created what we now call yin yoga in the 1970s. Paul experienced during his Training with a Daoist Kung Fu Master that the Yin Poses helped him to gain flexibility.


Restorative intends to facilitate deep rest by slowing down movement, the breath and the mind, helping to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Restorative Yoga supports a body in need of healing.

Yin yoga intends to place a small, healthy amount of stress to our joints and connective tissue (fascia, tendons and ligaments) by tensioning or compressing the tissue, which helps to release tension and hydrate the fascia keeping it subtle, improving mobility in the body. Yin also helps to move blocked ‘chi’ in the body and nourishes meridians, assisting with emotional, mental and physical health.

Depth of Pose

Restorative poses are designed to be very subtle, with no deep stretching sensations. Typically restorative uses more props so that the practitioner is completely comfortable in the pose, allowing complete surrender and letting go. The poses are designed to gently open the body to allow for the release of tension, deeper breathing and relaxation.

In yin yoga, the practitioner is encouraged to stress the connective tissue, the fascia so typically yin yoga uses fewer props than restorative. We are looking for a healthy way to working with the fascia often referred to as the Goldilocks Pose – not too much, not too little:

Starting in a Shape where we feel only a very gentle sensation to let the body arrive in the pose and to let the fascia release, after a few minutes we are able to move carefully deeper into it to find another edge and so we are working physically step by step into a yin pose and that will work on an emotional level to facilitate a letting go too.

Time of Pose

Restorative poses are typically held from five to twenty minutes. A standard restorative class will include no more than six postures and savasana, where as yin poses are held for three to ten minutes with a one to two minute rebound in between each pose.

Both restorative and yin and are beneficial in their own right and are complementary to each other as well as to more dynamic yang practices.

Both practice are wonderful and are holding so much benefits for us.

Longer holds and stillness are medicine.



Are you interested in learning more about yin? Have a look here

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