The Difference Between Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga

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Did you know that yin yoga and restorative yoga aren’t the same thing?

Sound the alarm!! 

Many people don’t! But it’s true, these types of yoga– while similar, certainly– are actually quite different.

In this post, I’ll be sharing what the differences between these two styles of yoga are and how to decide which style may be best for you.

The Difference Between Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga

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Yin Yoga

yin yoga shannon stephens pigeon pose
Image via Yoga Journal

Yin yoga is a practice that focuses on stretching your connective tissues (particularly the fascia) in order to strengthen and lengthen them. Poses are held for 3-5 minutes each and work with the energy meridians in your body as well as cultivating active stretch in your connective tissues to increase strength and flexibility, improve joint mobility, improve posture, and release trauma in the body.

To learn more about yin yoga, check out these resources:

Restorative Yoga

Image via BookYogaRetreats

Restorative yoga is a meditative practice that uses props like blocks, straps, sandbags, bolsters, and blankets to encourage a passive release of mind and body tension. This style works to release deep tension passively, without active stretch.

To learn more about restorative yoga, check out these resources:

[Related: The Best Cozy Yoga Clothes for Restorative Yoga]

The Difference Between Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga

These practices are similar in the sense that they are slow, meditative practices focused on long holds. So how do they differ?

  • Stretch: In yin yoga, there is an active stretch but in restorative yoga, the goal is to be 100% supported and passive with no active stretch.
  • Focus: In yin yoga, the focus is on stretching your connective tissues but in restorative yoga, the focus is on the passive release of mind-body tension.
  • Props: Both styles may use props but in yin yoga, if props are used, they are used to either deepen or soften the stretch. In restorative yoga, props are used to completely support your body. Generally, restorative yoga will use far more props than yin, which may include straps, blankets, blocks, sandbags and especially bolsters.
  • Poses: Yin yoga poses are held for about 3-5 minutes, while restorative yoga poses are held for anywhere from 5-10 minutes.

Wondering which practice is best for you and your needs? Keep reading to find out!

restorative dec 14 supported belly down pose
Restorative Yoga pose via Yoga Journal


The Essence of Yin Yoga

Yin yoga is best for:

  • Increasing strength and flexibility
  • Keeping your joints healthy and mobile
  • Improving your posture
  • Releasing trauma and emotion stored in the connective tissues of the body
  • Bringing your negative thought patterns into your awareness so that you can work with them and release them

Some questions to ask before deciding:

  • Do you lead a very active lifestyle?
  • Are you holding onto narratives from the past that are no longer serving you?
  • Do you sit at a desk most of the day?
  • Are you 60+?


The Essence of Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga is best for:

  • Meditation
  • Stress release
  • Deep relaxation
  • Breath-work
  • Creating a sense of safety in the mind and body
  • Reaching a state of mindful rest (think yoga nidra— a sort of receptive trance practice)
  • Cultivating contentment

Some questions to ask before deciding:

  • Do you deal with an abnormal amount of stress and anxiety on a daily basis?
  • It is difficult for you to unwind after a normal day of work?
  • Do you struggle to find time for yourself?

If you’ve never tried either style, I recommend trying both out! Check out the plethora of restorative yoga classes on YouTube and visit Yoga with Kassandra’s YouTube channel for beautiful yin yoga classes.

Both styles are beautiful practices to incorporate into your weekly or monthly yoga routine, regardless of which one you may lean more towards!

What do you love about these slower yoga practices? Comment below and share!

PS: Did you enjoy this article? Pin me! 🙂

The Difference Between Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga

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About Brandon

Former corporate sales rep turned nomadic entrepreneurial yogi. Street food ninja, avid outdoorsman, craft beer geek, and live music junkie. Co-founder of The Yoga Nomads.

6 thoughts on “The Difference Between Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga”

  1. Thank you for providing all of this excellent information. I believe I’ll follow your suggestion and practice both Yin and restorative for a while. I can compare and contrast and find just the right form go Yoga for my goals and needs.

  2. Brandon’s article wonderfully clarifies the distinctions between Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga, often misconstrued as similar practices. The comprehensive breakdown of each style’s characteristics, benefits, and questions for self-assessment guides readers in making an informed choice. The inclusion of recommended resources for deeper understanding adds value. Brandon’s concise yet insightful comparison not only educates but also motivates readers to explore both practices, fostering a well-rounded approach to self-care and holistic wellness. A concise and enlightening read for anyone seeking clarity on these two rejuvenating yoga styles.


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