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Restorative and Yin Yoga ~ Understand the difference

Did you know that there was a difference between Yin and Restorative yoga? Both are beneficial for the body and mind. Each will help calm the nervous system but there are distinct differences in the body and how the body approaches the postures.

Understanding these two favorites at Joyful Yoga.

Let’s get right to the heart of the topic, Yin and Restorative, although they seem similar they are quite the opposite. When you practice both you begin to understand and feel how different they are.

Restoring the mind & body:

Restorative yoga supports the body in every way possible. One of the main focuses of restorative yoga is on the release of the body-mind tension and stress. Restorative yoga helps bring the nervous system into a relaxed state, where healing can begin deep within the system.

During a restorative practice yoga props are utilized to help support the body. As the body is supported by bolster(s), blanket(s), blocks and whatever else the studio might have on hand, the full weight of the body is held by the props.

Props are places under, around and over the body to help hold the body in the posture being experienced. The goal is a very gentle loving stretch. Some of the postures provide such a gentle stretch that one might not even feel it.

Restorative is a loving gentle practice and when paired with a sound bath, guided meditation or soothing music of any kind one can feel like they are resting in a dreamlike state.

Defining Yin in the world of yoga.

Yin Yoga helps us attend to the overlooked deeper layers of the body, heart, and mind. Yin Yoga has a challenging aspect, one that should be respected. Yin will take people outside their comfort zone and bring you where you may not have recently explored.

Yin Yoga is on the opposite side of the spectrum from Restorative, it is an actively held practice. Yin yoga’s primary focus is to hold deeper stretches longer, between 3-7 minutes. The longer hold of stretch based yoga postures is to give the connective tissue time to unload tension. The connective tissue in the body is comprised of the fascia, ligaments, and tendons. The approach might appear to be simple, but holding floor based stretching postures over several minutes can challenge one’s mind, body and breath. Without a doubt a Yin practice is and will be transformative.

Yin Yoga may be slow, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It can be a deep practice of presence, of surrender, and of showing up to do the deep work that needs to be done. Physically, depending on the posture, it can feel much more challenging than a faster-paced, more yang, practice. The physical discomfort that sets in after approximately 1 to 2 minutes in the pose is confronting. This discomfort, however unpleasant it can be, is necessary and contributes to the transformative effects of Yin Yoga on our connective tissue and fascia.

Yin Yoga also helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation helping calm the mind, with your attention focused on the breath.

At Joyful Yoga we bring a balance of Restorative and Yin to our signature Sacred Stretch class on Thursday evenings. The class begins by taking to the mat with a Yin practice and allowing the discomfort to surface. Focusing on the breath to move through what surfaces we can then experience the lusciousness of restorative postures. Savasana is always a magical experience after bringing the body through yin into restorative.

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