A few of you have asked, what exactly is the difference between Yin and Restorative yoga? While this could be answered many different ways, a simple explanation is within the intention. One is not “better” than the other and they often overlap at least on the outside.
Yin – focuses on finding length and expansion within the being.
Traditionally, yin poses follow the body’s meridian lines to move energy and stagnation that manifests physically in our tissues, feelings of tightness or stiffness. While the body is seemingly still within each pose, there is movement with each breath to deepen the experience. Finding the edge where comfort meets sensation and then with time and breath expanding the edge as space is created. Yin is a balance of effort and ease, not every pose will “feel good” depending on what is being worked on or through mentally or physically. In these experiences, the mind is able to relearn how to efficiently cope with the stories often attached to physical sensations. We practice staying present with what is around and within us on our mat so that we can do this for ourselves in the world. This process is done with support and care; we are never forcing our bodies to comply with what a pose “should” look like. We are, however, paying close attention to the unique individual alignment and subtle shifts of our own experience. Yin poses are considered the lunar side of yoga. Calming, cooling, releasing, and stretching. If you have tried yoga before, these are typically the poses you do seated or laying down on the mat. We are not working to build strength or heat within the body, but to release and move what is already there.
Restorative – focuses on softening, relaxing, and releasing within the being.
In restorative yoga, all effort is replaced by ease, at least that is the goal. This can be more challenging than you would think. Our bodies are constantly receiving information from interactions within our environment. This is a busy world. A lot of that input can get stuck in our body’s holding patterns. Restorative yoga allows our bodies to rest with awareness, relaxing the mind and body layer by layer. In doing so, the being gets to re remember what ease feels like, cultivating the inner observer our space. Awareness creates choice and we can better navigate how we respond to to the world around us. Restorative yoga is a longer class to allow time to properly set up each pose. We use (many) props such as bolsters, blocks, and blankets to completely support the body and find a comfortable resting position, which can take time. The intention is to release all effort, allowing the body to discover areas of chronic tension and softening with awareness.