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Yin Yoga vs Restorative Yoga - Why they are not the same

At some point or the other, we all have interchangeably used Yin and restorative Yoga for many obvious reasons, including the most popular belief that it’s the same style of Yoga with just two different names, which is a misconception.


In today's modern world, where hustling is the norm and stress a byproduct of our impulsive living, we often ignore the need to pause and respond to life with awareness. 


Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga are typically different styles that offer us tools to balance our busy lives and calm our minds.


Did you know that both styles of Yoga practice have certain similarities? They stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps with relaxation. 


Another commonality is that Yin and restorative Yoga are both slow-paced, encourage the use of props & are meant to be stress-releasing practices.


Yet they are both unique & different in their approach.


Yin Yoga vs Restorative Yoga
Yin Yoga vs Restorative Yoga

This blog serves as a reference to understand the main differences between Yin and Restorative Yoga.

This can help you make an informed choice on what suits or compliments your needs as a practitioner.


Here are nine essential differences explaining 'Yin Yoga vs Restorative Yoga'


  1. Yin Yoga is rooted in the ancient practice of classical Hatha yoga with influences from the Eastern world. The underlying beliefs being the system of energies within the body and the breath. Restorative Yoga has evolved from the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar, who discovered the healing properties of Yoga through his encounter with illness as a child.

  2. At its core, Yin Yoga helps access the deeper tissues; many postures focus on the areas that contain the joint ( e.g., the sacrum, spine & hips). The crux of a Restorative Yoga practice is to help cleanse and free the mind while guiding the body to complete rest.

  3. Yin Yoga focuses on the fascia (deep connective tissue) and actively stretching the connective tissues by applying stress to the joints. Restorative Yoga focuses on releasing mind-body tensions, supporting the body and healing the nervous system with deep passive stretches.

  4. In Yin Yoga, props are optional yet available; they are mostly used to deepen or ease the stretch ( maximum of 5-7 minutes in each pose), while Restorative Yoga uses props almost always to completely support the body in rest mode.

  5. In Yin Yoga, the emphasis is always on a specific area of the body to release tension through each pose. On the contrary, Restorative Yoga is about dissolving the weight and tension from the entire body. Restorative Yoga poses are held for a longer duration (maximum of 20 minutes in each pose) in comparison to Yin Yoga poses and promote deep relaxation.

  6. Yin Yoga involves stretching, twisting or compression of the targeted connective tissues. On the contrary, Restorative yoga is designed for complete relaxation with minimal effort.

  7. In Yin Yoga, we find stillness within by making peace with the pose & navigating through moments of discomfort using the breath. In the process, there is an active working of the various connective tissues. In Restorative Yoga, the intent is to let go of the need to push oneself. The focus is all about supporting the body to rest entirely with the generous use of multiple props (bolsters, blocks, cushions, etc.)

  8. Yin Yoga activates the connective tissues at a deep level in a healthy body involved in a Yang fitness regime. Restorative Yoga supports a body in complete need of healing and promotes wellness & optimal health.

  9. A consistent Yin Yoga practice benefits practitioners who wish to increase flexibility & work on their joint & tissue health. Restorative Yoga, on the other hand, helps practitioners benefit from slowing down and turning inwards & facilitates physical, emotional and psychological rest. 


These above-mentioned points explain 'Yin Yoga vs Restorative Yoga.  


As we conclude this blog, here are a few parting thoughts. First & foremost, understand each yoga type and prepare what to expect. 


This gives you the confidence to ask relevant questions before attending a Yin or Restorative Yoga class. Comprehending what’s best for you by experiencing both classes first-hand is the best way forward. 


If you want to explore more, there is qualified literature, online material and books by authors and well-renowned teachers like Paul Grilley & Bernie Clark on the subject of Yin Yoga and Judith Lasater on Restorative Yoga. These are great reference points to begin your journey. 


We hope this blog has helped set the tone towards introducing you to both Yin and Restorative Yoga practices and why they are different.


Stay well!

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