Yoga Nidra, restorative yoga, yin yoga….what are the differences?

We often get asked what are yoga nidra, restorative and yin yoga classes. It’s true that all three are slow moving (or no moving!) classes and props are generously used in all three. But that’s where their similarity ends. Since we’re starting a restorative yoga class August 14, we thought it would be a good time to explain the differences between yoga nidra, yin and restorative yoga.

Yoga nidra is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, where our body is relaxed and our mind is awake. It’s a type of guided meditation designed to help us access our theta and delta brainwaves (which help with creativity and problem-solving) while keeping us in our beta state (everyday consciousness state).

Yoga nidra is done in a savasana-like pose. If you’ve ever taken Gail Herzog’s yoga nidra class, she insists students use as many blankets, pillows and blocks to be as comfortable as possible. The idea, she says, is to be so completely relaxed as to “sink into bliss.”

Yin yoga also involves props. Yin and restorative yoga both hold poses for 3 or more minutes but their goals are different. Yin yoga’s aim is to stretch the connective tissue of the hips, pelvis and lower spine and access deeper layers of fascia. It was created by Paulie Zink and involves variations of seated and supine positions.

Restorative yoga’s goal is to release muscle tension through the use of props. Sequences typically are only five or six poses, are held for 5 minutes or more and include light twists, seated forward folds and gentle backbends. Most restorative practices are based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar.

In restorative yoga, props either support or anchor a pose. Support poses use blankets, bolsters and blocks to lift the body and support it from below, such as in Child’s pose. Anchoring poses use sandbags and straps to gently press or hold the body in place, such as in Supta Baddha Konāsana (Reclined Bound Angle).

Join Gail Herzog in our first restorative yoga class Monday, August 14, 7:15-8:30 pm. Cost is $15 and space is limited to 8. Message us through Facebook to reserve your spot.


Update on my meditation challenge

On Nov. 30, I started a 22 day meditation challenge for myself, pledging to sit in meditation for at least 5 minutes each day. While we can “get into the zone” while running or find ourselves in a peaceful state while gardening or doing some mindless activity such as the dishes, I specified “sitting in meditation” because I wanted it to be a conscious act.

In the past, when I’ve meditated on a regular basis, I’ve found that my life goes better. I’m more calm, more focused. Bumps in life’s journey aren’t so rough and the universe seems to speak to me more often in ways I don’t always figure it would.

One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m either dreaming more or remembering my dreams more.

Do you meditate on a regular basis?

Take the meditation challenge

Interested in developing a regular meditation practice? I’d like to! So I’m challenging myself to meditate daily from 2 Dec through 24 Dec. for at least 5 minutes.

Feel free to join me (Danette). We’ll use this space to share our experiences, what works for us, what doesn’t, etc.

Not sure how to meditate? Here’s how to do it:
1. Sit comfortably with your hips higher than your knees. Use a cushion if you need to; you could also sit in a chair. But don’t lie down.
2. Your hands can be in your lap, palms up, right hand on top of left. Or you can place your wrists on your knees, palms up, thumbs touching your forefingers.
3. Close your eyes. Slowly breath in and out through your nose without trying to control the breath. Just keep your mind focused on the breath.
4. Your mind will start to wander – this is natural! It’s that “monkey mind” that we’re trying to control, those thoughts that constantly ping around inside our heads as if they’re steel balls in a pinball machine.
5. When you notice you’re thinking of something, gently bring your focus back to your breath. No need to beat yourself up about it, just acknowledge it and refocus.

Just like practicing yoga, keeping to a restrictive diet, or following an exercise program, you’ll have days when it’s easy and days when it’s tough. Just remember it’s “progress, not perfection.”