Yoga Nidra, Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga….What Are the Differences?

Woman in restorative yoga pose

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 nuances of 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 her Gentle Restorative Yoga class Mondays, 7:15-8:30 pm. Cost is $15 and space is limited to 8. Message us through Facebook to reserve your spot.

Check out our calendar for Sasha Bassett’s yin yoga class, generally held once a month.