Yin Yoga & Restorative Yoga: What's the difference?

‘How does Yin Yoga differ from Restorative (Yin) Yoga?’

This is a frequent query and a fair one to ask.

To the outside eye, both look like long stretching sessions with assorted use of props. As yin styles of practice, they do share a common theme: to soften and yield towards gravity, while releasing muscular activity.

But the inner experience can be much more intricate, and ever-changing.

Give the popularity of our Sunday evening Yin class, we’re excited now offer both of these - TWO chances for cultivating space:

3.30pm - 4.30pm | YIN + MEDITATION

So you may wonder: which one is more suitable for you?

Well, it depends. To start, let’s consider what a Yin style practice involves.


Yin styles of yoga are a relatively recent development in the plethora of physical practices within the yogic lineage. It is a style that targets the deeper layers of the body (connective tissue, or fascia, bones, ligaments, joints and tendons).

This is in contrast to the more yang styles like Vinyasa, which work with the musculature, or more superficial layers of the body.

When we practice Yin yoga, the approach we take is one of yielding, or allowing; there is a sense of letting gravity draw us deeper, rather than stimulating our bodies to move dynamically through space. By releasing the muscles through longer-held postures (usually 2 mins or more), we coax the body towards the ‘rest and digest’ mode of the Parasympathetic Nervous System. This activates processes of healing and restoration in the body, that are only possible when we feel this sense of safety. Through stillness, there is an opportunity to refine our awareness in experiencing the subtler sensations each shape offers.

Our intention becomes the crossroad for experience.


YIN YOGA challenges our willingness to be present.
With gravity as your guide, there is never a pushing or pulling of the body, but there is potential discomfort. Each pose gives the chance to move towards our sensory ‘edge’. Props are used where necessary, sometimes to ensure the body is safe but often to deepen the sensations.

Think of it as a training ground for understanding yourself: through the physical experience, Yin yoga can help us broaden our capacity to stay with uncomfortable, or unexpected experiences. We choose how we meet challenge, and how we treat ourselves.

RESTORATIVE YOGA, in contrast, seeks to nurture, in the most effortless way possible. This often involves using a variety of props to support the body in relinquishing muscular activity. It guides the body towards a state of relaxation, and this in turn seeps into the mind. Postures are held for longer (sometimes up to 10 minutes), and there is plenty of space for cultivating smooth, easeful breaths to stimulate the body’s natural healing process.

Restorative yoga is perfect for pregnancy, recovering from injury, or softening away from experiences of anxiety, including insomnia or a racing mind. The more soothing variation of a yin-style practice, it is a sweet way to return to the natural rhythm of the body, one breath at a time.

To move towards optimal health, we need to shift and transform our perspective, habits and choices with the changes of days and seasons. Both approaches will offer space for deep nourishment beyond the physical body. How you practice depends on your intention.

For your reference, below is a table that shows some contrasts in the two approaches to these two yin-style practices.

Let each experience on the mat be a pathway towards more self-knowing, so you can find the resonance that balances and rejuvenates your state of being.

Happy practicing yogis!


NOTE: If you are pregnant or working with an existing / previous injury, please always consult with our teachers prior to your first class with them.