yin yoga versus restorative yoga

The new yoga studio I’ve recently signed up with (Claremont Yoga – I love it!) offers an array of classes for its students.  One of which is “Yin Yoga”.    And then they offer a “Restorative Yoga” class.  Are these similar?   I’ve decided to read about them – in addition to attending the classes.  Understanding the purpose of the class and what to expect is very important and can change the outcome of the class greatly so here we go.

Yin versus yang yoga

To understand what yin yoga is we need to understand the term yang yoga.    It is probably the type of yoga you’ve been doing.  Vinyasa flow, Ashtanga, and Strala’s Strong yoga are examples of yang yoga. These are rather vigorous forms of yoga which focus on our muscles resulting in sweat and an increased heart-rate.  These forms of yoga are heat building.  As we flow through an hour of one of these classes the purpose is to build strength, stamina, and also flexibility in our muscles.

Yin is the opposite or balancing partner of yang yoga.  The roots of yin yoga are in China rather than in India as most yang yoga is. It is based on simple poses which are held for anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes.  It is meant to balance out the yang practice. Instead of focusing on the muscles, the focus in on connective tissue – the bones, the ligaments, and the joints.  The atmosphere of these classes is more meditative and the object is to relax into the poses.  Although it is described as simple it is not meant to be “easy”.   It is meant to be for those yoga practitioners who are not currently injured and to improve their health. For these yogis it will act as a restorative form of yoga.

Restorative yoga

Generally, a class which is titled “Restorative yoga” will be a very gentle form of yoga.  More low-key than yin if you will.  If you have injuries, are new to yoga, are stressed, or just want a relaxing and easy-on-the-body class then look for a restorative yoga class.  These classes often use a lot of props, encourage ease and gentleness, and do not stress the connective tissue compared with a yin class.

I tried a yin yoga class the other day.  It is more strenuous than a restorative yoga class.  The poses are held for longer than might seem comfortable.  I will say it was a different experience.  I will probably try it again.  My ultimate favorite yoga is still restorative though.  I love it for its stress reducing qualities in my life.  My body is generally very flexible and the yin will be a good addition to my practice though.  Learning to use the poses as a meditative tool will be my challenge.  Learning to relax in the poses for up to 5 minutes will also be another challenge.  But after all yoga is a practice rather than an art. So adding a new dimension to my practice is exciting.

To your health.

Today is my birthday…time to reflect…

I tend to reflect on my life at every birthday.  Where am I?  How am I doing? How far have I come in the last 10 years?  In the last year?

Yes there are areas that I want to address but I don’t know how to yet.  10 years ago this would have driven me crazy with anxiety.  These days I take the approach that one day I’ll just know what to do and in the meanwhile don’t worry about it.  That doesn’t mean I’m in denial; it just means I’m fine with not knowing the answer right now. To me this is awesome!  Anxiety about the future is a true burden.

Since discovering yoga and meeting a few yoga friends,  I feel I have had massive self-growth over the past year compared with many other years.  Yoga people are just happy, positive, and fun people.  Their happiness is genuine and contagious.  Meeting these people made me realize just how negative the people in my life were and that I needed to change who I was surrounding myself with.  Their influence had been dragging me down!  That is not always so easy though…  So realizing this I need to figure a way to repel the negative that some people just seem to spew.  Any advice on how to do this is indeed welcome!

I have become a lot less anxious, much more positive, and do not have neck and upper back tension pain any longer.  I used to experience awful tension pains and would have massage therapy every two weeks which barely helped but seemed like the only thing I could think of to do.  To be rid of that pain is such a relief.  It does indeed seem quite miraculous.

So as I turn 42 I am no longer concerned with the fact that I am not married and have no kids.  I am no longer concerned with being perceived by others as a “loner”, as “definitely an introvert”, or as “too sensitive”.  These are my traits and make me who I am and instead of trying to be someone else I am just going to be me and enjoy it.  I mean things could be worse right?  And who decided that these kinds of traits are not that great anyway?  Deciding I am fine as I am, (in fact great!) has brought me a lot of peace and further lowered my level of anxiety.

So here’s to another great year coming to a close and a new one about to start!