The Difference Between Yin and Restorative Yoga (2023)

Yoga’s history stretches back thousands of years, but yin and restorative yoga are two practices which were developed more recently. Both practices take a slower pace, hold postures for a longer duration and use props heavily. You’ll also usually stay on the floor for the entire class.

Yin yoga and restorative yoga, while similar, are actually quite different…

Both styles are gentle and suitable for beginners or anybody who might be interested. There aren’t many poses covered in a single class, and transitions are done slowly. The gentle pace and long holds often draw comparisons between yin yoga and restorative yoga but there are a number of key differences between these two practices.

Key Differences

Here we’re going to look at yin and restorative yoga to better understand their differences. They’re rooted in unique philosophy, and each have unique objectives. We’re going to take a look at each practice to better understand the nuance between them but first lets summarize some of the main differences:

  • There is an active stretch in yin yoga but in restorative yoga, the goal is to be totally supported by your props with only passive movements or stretches.
  • In yin yoga the focus is on stretching your connective tissues and the like, but in restorative yoga the focus is on the release of mind-body tension and bringing the nervous system into a state of healing.
  • Both styles use props but in yin yoga when props are used they are meant to either deepen or ease the stretch. In restorative yoga, props are used to completely support your body. Restorative yoga will use props more frequently than yin yoga.
  • Restorative yoga poses are held longer than yin yoga poses
  • Yin yoga is rooted in ancient eastern philosophies and draws these elements into the practice

Let’s look at these two incredible styles to learn a little bit about what they are, who might like them, and what their unique benefits are.

(Video) Yin vs. Restorative - What's The Difference?

What is Yin Yoga?

Yin yoga is a practice that focuses on stretching the connective tissue in order to lengthen them and help release built-up tension. It evolved out of a practice called ‘Taoist Yoga’ which incorporated elements of Taoist philosophy into yoga. The name ‘Yin’ yoga comes from Yin/Yang philosophy which draws attention to the balance between opposing forces. More energetic styles of yoga like vinyasa yoga would be considered ‘yang’ while yin yoga postures are meant to balance these energetic practices with calm, deep stretches.

The poses are held anywhere from two to seven minutes and work with the energy meridians in your body to help increase flexibility, improve joint mobility, and release trauma in the body.

Traits of Yin Yoga

Connective tissue is the focus — While most yoga practices will stretch and strengthen the muscles, yin yoga is going to bring the stretch into deeper connective tissue. Stimulating deeper tissue like fascia is meant to cause energetic benefits through-out the body and can help to improve tissue elasticity along with joint mobility.

Poses are held for 2-7 minutes — In order to stimulate the connective tissue, poses in yin yoga are held for a longer period of time. Deep connective tissue is less elastic than muscular tissue, so a longer hold can encourage a better release of tension.

It is rooted in Eastern philosophy — Ancient Chinese and Indian cultures had similar philosophical concepts which yin yoga incorporates into the practice. For example, both cultures believed in a system of energies within the body and had a similar understanding of meditation accompanied by a physical practice and breathwork.

(Video) What are the differences between restorative yoga and yin yoga?

Yin yoga is best for those who want to:

  • Balance a more energetic exercise routine
  • Increase flexibility
  • Keep joints healthy and mobile
  • Improve posture
  • Release trauma and emotions that become stored in the body

Benefits of Yin Yoga

It improves joint health — Deeper stretches in yin yoga can help to encourage better joint mobility and flexibility.

It encourages healthy connective tissue — Deep connective tissue is less elastic than muscular tissue and it can sometimes be a neglected part of our anatomy during regular fitness routines.

It brings balance to our bodies & lives — Taoist philosophy of Yin/Yang focuses on the balance of opposing forces. In a modern world of constant stimulation, yin yoga can deliver a little more ‘yin’ energy in a world of yang.

It reduces stress & anxiety — Just like any yoga practice, yin yoga can help to reduce stress and anxiety and bring peace of mind.

(Video) Yin Yoga vs Restorative Yoga | Differences between Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga

What is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative yoga is a calming practice that relies on blocks, straps, sandbags, bolsters and blankets to create a passive release of mind and body. It’s all about the prop usage. Restorative yoga evolved from the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar who sought out the healing properties of yoga after experiencing a series of illnesses during childhood.

As the name suggests, restorative yoga brings our body into a state of healing or restoration. In simple terms, we can view our nervous system in two different modes: One mode is our ‘fight or flight‘ mode, which is constantly stimulated in the modern world. The other is a calming state When our nervous system registers safety, it kicks off all sorts of healing processes within our body. Restorative yoga helps to bring us into that state of balance without any active stretch or engagements in the body.

Traits of Restorative Yoga

It Brings Our Body Into a State of Healing. In Restorative Yoga, the combination of supportive props and longer holds can help bring a sense of calm and comfort that triggers our body’s healing mechanisms. These healing mechanisms are rooted in our nervous system, which can be influenced by external stimulation and physical comfort.

Postures Are Held For 5-20 Minutes. Restorative yoga is going to really bring the body into a deep state of relaxation through long poses.

Props Are Used (A Lot!). In order to make sure that the body is supported properly, props are used heavily. They don’t just support the body physically, but they also help to create a sense of comfort and support for the practitioner who is essentially wrapped up in a cocoon of props during practice.

(Video) Yin Versus Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga is best for:

  • Meditation
  • Those looking to heal
  • Stress release
  • Deep relaxation
  • Creating a sense of safety in the mind and body
  • Reaching a state of mindful rest

Benefits of Restorative Yoga

It activates the body’s healing mechanisms — Restorative yoga brings the body into a state of healing or restorative by activating our natural healing mechanisms.

It promotes deep calm and relaxation — Falling asleep is rather common in a restorative yoga class – and it’s no surprise! This format of yoga is incredible soothing and can help to bring a total sense of calm and relaxation for practitioners.

It can boost the immune system — When we aren’t well rested, our immune system can start to suffer. Restorative yoga can help bring us the rest and relaxation needed to keep our immune system functioning healthy and happy.

To Wrap it All Up…

Yin yoga and restorative yoga are both gentle and appropriate for all levels of students, from total beginners to experienced practitioners to athletes and seniors or even people with injuries and movement limitations. While they share similarities they are definitely unique formats with separate objectives.

(Video) Types of Yoga | Difference Between Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga | Which is Right for You?

Students should try both types of yoga to see which one best suits their needs, and might even decide to add both into a regular practice. If you’re interested in learning more about yin yoga, feel free to enroll into YogaRenew’s Yin Yoga Teacher Training. If Restorative yoga is more your speed, try our Restorative Yoga Teacher Training.


What is the difference between yin and restorative yoga? ›

In yin yoga the focus is on stretching your connective tissues and the like, but in restorative yoga the focus is on the release of mind-body tension and bringing the nervous system into a state of healing. Both styles use props but in yin yoga when props are used they are meant to either deepen or ease the stretch.

Is yin yoga enough? ›

There is no proof yin yoga works; it does not increase flexibility; It doesn't build strength or stability in the joints; It destabilizes the joints; Ligaments (or connective tissues) shouldn't be stretched.

What are the 3 principles of yin yoga? ›

The Three Tattvas of Yin Yoga Practice
  • Come into the pose to an appropriate depth.
  • Resolve to remain still.
  • Hold the pose for time.

What are 3 benefits of restorative yoga? ›

Key benefits, supported by science, include the following:
  • Relaxes your mind and body. ...
  • Soothes the nervous system. ...
  • Enhances your mood. ...
  • Reduces chronic pain. ...
  • Improves sleep. ...
  • Improves well-being. ...
  • Gentle on your body. ...
  • Works as part of an overall treatment plan for chronic health conditions.
23 Sept 2020

What is the main focus of restorative yoga? ›

Restorative yoga enables deep relaxation as you holding poses for longer periods of time with the help of props to completely support you. The main focus of Restorative Yoga is that by relaxing in poses, with the aid of props, without strain or pain, we can achieve physical, mental and emotional relaxation.

Is yin yoga good for trauma? ›

Yin Yoga has been used quite effectively to help people deal with traumatic memories. It is certainly true that yoga, or even meditation, can trigger unwelcomed states of mind in some people. [1] But, fortunately, these instances are relatively rare.

Why do I feel so tired after yin yoga? ›

This is natural: when we exercise any tissue - yin or yang - the body has to expend energy to rebuild that area. That will take energy and we can feel quite tired.

Why yin yoga is the best? ›

Yin yoga stretches and targets both the deep connective tissues between the muscles, and the fascia throughout the body. The aim is to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility as the poses stretch and exercise the bone and joint areas. It also helps us to regulate the body's flow of energy.

Who is yin yoga best for? ›

This style is suitable for people who are new to yoga or want to balance intense workouts. It's also great for people who have health concerns or injuries that require low intensity activities. Greenspoon recommends yin yoga to anyone who wants to focus on calming their mind and relaxing their body.

Is yin yoga good for anxiety? ›

As such, Yin yoga may help lower perceived levels of stress and anxiety, which in turn may reduce the physiological and psychological risk factors associated with NCD.

How often should you practice yin yoga? ›

Yin Yoga From The Experts
  1. Age Range: 28 – 70 years.
  2. Number of times to practice per week: Ranged from less than once to more than twice.
  3. Duration of practice: Ranged from less than 6 months to greater than 2 years.
28 Aug 2018

Can yin yoga change your body? ›

Yin yoga and the body

If you gently stretch connective tissue by holding a yin pose for a long time in this way, the body will respond by making it a little longer and stronger – which is exactly what you want.

How many times a week should you do restorative yoga? ›

How often should you do restorative yoga? You can do a restorative practice as often as you'd like. Many practitioners use the therapeutic style of yoga every day for at least a few minutes. Others may turn to it once or twice a week or when they need to relieve stress and anxiety.

Why do I cry during restorative yoga? ›

The Movement of Yoga Makes You Cry and Invites Feeling

These movements make you stronger, more flexible, and resilient. They also have the added benefit of releasing tension and emotion. And with that release often come tears, though not always. For some people, letting go might look like laughter or anger.

What are 5 benefits of restorative yoga? ›

Restorative yoga benefits
  • Deeply relaxes the body.
  • Stills a busy mind.
  • Releases muscular tension, improving mobility and flexibility.
  • Improves capacity for healing and balancing.
  • Balances the nervous system.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Develops qualities of compassion and understanding toward others and self.

What is another name for restorative yoga? ›

Also described as yin yoga, restorative classes use bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop students into passive poses so the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort.

How many poses are in a restorative yoga class? ›

A restorative yoga class typically involves 5-8 poses supported with props and held for anywhere from 10-15 minutes. Most restorative yoga poses are based on the practices of B.K.S. Iyengar and involve gentle twists, back bends and inversions, using props to support full relaxation of mind and body.

Is Downward Dog a restorative yoga pose? ›

Downward Dog is a restorative pose for experienced practitioners, but can be hard work for beginners.

Which yoga is best for PTSD? ›

Yin Yoga and Hatha Yoga are particularly suitable for trauma survivors, thanks in part to the breath work and compassionate observation of the internal and physical experience.

What type of yoga is best for healing trauma? ›

Restorative yoga can be used to help heal trauma survivors because of its positive effects on the nervous system. Typically, sequences consist of five or six poses. Combined with deep breathing and stillness, it provides an opportunity to feel and tolerate every sensation.

Does yin yoga release emotions? ›

Yin is composed of tension and compression as well as rebounds that create a cleansing of the fascia and connective tissues. This releasing action that yin creates can bring up all kinds of emotions. Many students find that the most 'triggering' poses are those that work on releasing connective tissue around the hips.

Should you drink water after yin yoga? ›

You may decide that you don't really need water during yoga practice, but if you are taking a more active class, you'll want to have access to a drink soon after. You can consume several ounces of water after your practice to replenish the water that your muscles have consumed or that you have sweated out during class.

Is crying in yin yoga normal? ›

Why Yin unleashes emotions. It's that releasing action that can bring up all kinds of emotions – including unexpected tears. You'll find the most triggering poses are those that work on releasing the fascia around your hips.

What time of day is best for yin yoga? ›

To maximize the benefits of Yin Yoga and increase your flexibility, it is best to practice when your muscles are cold i.e. in the morning when you first wake up. If your muscles are already warmed up and loose they will take the tension of the stretch away from those deeper connective tissues.

How many poses are in yin yoga? ›

"There are only 26 total yin postures, and while they look similar to yang poses one would take in a vinyasa class, they have slightly different names and intentions," explains Lindsay Pirozzi, a New York City-based yoga instructor.

Does yin yoga release fascia? ›

By holding asana postures from 3-15 minutes in a yin class, we relax the muscles to move past them and the superficial layers of fascia into the deep, yin fascial layers. These deep layers of fascial connective tissue are composed of collagen, which gives tissue elasticity and resiliency.

Is yin yoga good for seniors? ›

Most of the seniors that come to my class are looking to regain mobility, especially in their joints, or to rekindle the flow of energy through their bodies. They can all benefit from yin yoga.

Is yin yoga good for inflammation? ›

Helene also discovered that, as good as yin-like stretching is for resolving chronic inflammation, it is also valuable for improving the resolution of acute inflammation.

How much yin yoga is too much? ›

Yin Yoga can positively affect the muscles and help to make them longer and stretchier. Holding poses for 5 to 6 minutes is simply not good for the body; in general it places too much strain on the muscles.

Which yoga pose is most calming? ›

Savasana (Corpse Pose)

This posture allows you to let go—easing the physical tension and mental stress you're holding onto throughout your entire body. You'll calm (and quiet) your brain and move into a place focused on your breath—and nothing else.

Is yin yoga good for depression? ›

Yin Yoga opens the door to many benefits beyond flexibility, although that does come with practice. It can help promote relaxation and ease depression and anxiety. As yoga focuses heavily on the mind, it encourages better mental health.

How often should I do yin? ›

From the perspective of your physical body and your connective tissue (because we are not affecting the muscles in yin yoga so you do not need a day of recovery), yes you can practice yin yoga everyday.

How do I get the most out of my Yin Yoga? ›

Here's how to get the best out of your Yin:

Keep in the pose as long as you can, the temptation to come out may reduce the benefits. Never go into painful sensations. Once you have arrived in the pose, let your breath be the only movement in your body. Notice how both sides of your body may differ.

How long do you hold a pose in Yin Yoga? ›

So how long do you hold? The magic window of time for holding a yin pose is usually three to five minutes. Learn more about A Journey Into Yin Yoga.

Why is yin yoga so hard? ›

The combination of mental and physical distraction (and discomfort) makes yin yoga quite possibly more challenging than any other form of yoga. Coming to terms with the ins and outs of your own body during physical exercise is one thing, something many people, including myself, find a worthy and often fun challenge.

Is yin yoga good for joints? ›

Yin Yoga: Fitness for your Joints

Unlike other more popular types of yoga like ashtanga or vinyasa that build balance and target muscles, yin yoga is focused on joint rehabilitation. Yin yoga targets the connective tissues that other types of yoga miss.

Is yin yoga spiritual? ›

To the average person asking “what is Yin Yoga?” it may seem as though this practice is simply a combination of yoga and meditation. While there are the two primary components of this practice, there are many more intricacies involved with Yin Yoga. It is much more spiritually and mentally focused than people assume.

Does restorative yoga count as exercise? ›

Like traditional yoga, restorative yoga is a low-impact way to exercise both your mind and body.

What should I eat before restorative yoga? ›

Eat a smart snack.

A handful of almonds, quinoa or oatmeal are good choices – especially for a more athletic style of yoga like power vinyasa or hot yoga. An avocado and chia pudding are also easy on the stomach. Eat fruit like a banana, apple, pear or dried fruit before you practice.

Is restorative yoga good for anxiety? ›

Research has found that restorative yoga may improve well-being and fatigue, improve quality of life, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Yoga is also a promising tool for stress management.

Where is anger stored in the body yoga? ›

That means a lot of negative emotions become stored along your spine and in the backs of your legs. Most of your powerful emotions such as anger and fear are stored in your back.

What emotions get stored in the hips? ›

This unconscious tension can be held from one traumatic event, or lots of little events where the stress of feelings like sadness, fear and worry are stored and can get stuck. No matter how you say it, stretching the hip muscles causes a release and allows stored emotion to melt away.

Does yoga release trapped trauma? ›

Practicing yoga allows you to let go of the tension connected to any emotional pain that your body has been physically holding onto.. The physical focus during yoga can help you become aware of your subconscious emotions. Yoga can help you reconnect with yourself and with others, allowing for a release of emotion.

Which is better Yin or restorative yoga? ›

The main difference is that in a Restorative Yoga class the practitioner is asked to be 100% comfortable. In a Yin Yoga class discomfort is welcome. In Yin we find our Goldilocks position; not too strong, not too soft, just right. In Restorative Yoga props are always used and soft is more often the way to practice.

Is restorative yoga the same as yin yoga? ›

While both Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga are slow-paced and stress-relieving practices, they are very different. Yin is all about stretching and applying gentle stress to certain tissues. Restorative Yoga is all about supporting your body, allowing it to relax and heal.

Should you warm up before restorative yoga? ›

Warm Up. Start out with a few minutes of gentle movement before settling into a restorative pose or practice. A little stretching will warm the muscles and create space in the body to prepare it for relaxation.

What type of yoga is restorative? ›


Also described as yin yoga, restorative classes use bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop students into passive poses so the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort.

What is yin yoga best for? ›

Yin yoga is ideal for people of most fitness levels who want to develop a relaxed, meditative practice or balance an intense exercise routine. The practice allows you to slow down, relax, and turn inward, which helps alleviate stress and restore your energy levels.

What is the most gentle yoga? ›

1. Hatha Yoga. It's all about the basics in these slower moving classes that require you to hold each pose for a few breaths. In many studios, hatha classes are considered a gentler form of yoga.

Which form of yoga is best? ›

Who it's best for: Iyengar yoga is ideal for newcomers who may enjoy assistance with more challenging poses.
  • Ashtanga Yoga. The Path: The most dynamic and vigorous form of yoga, Ashtanga approaches yoga with a continuous flow of movement. ...
  • Kundalini Yoga. ...
  • Sivananda Yoga. ...
  • Bikram Yoga.

Is restorative yoga good for trauma? ›

Restorative Yoga can aid in trauma-recovery, reduce fatigue, comfort experiences of anxiety, alleviate physical pain due to injury or stress responses, among other things. This teacher training will provide the tools you need to teach Restorative Yoga poses with confidence in a group setting and to one-on-one clients.

Why is yin yoga so powerful? ›

Opening your fascia through Yin Yoga boosts your range of motion and flexibility, while also helping to strengthen your muscles and maintain their length. This helps improve blood circulation to muscle and connective tissues and enhance lymph movement.

What do you do after yin yoga? ›

In the same way, immediately after a yin pose the deep tissues may be slightly vulnerable. We rest in transition for a few breaths—in the pose after the pose—to allow the tissues to rebound. Deep tissues take longer to “bounce back” than do muscles!


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