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What is the difference between Yin & Hatha Yoga?

Hatha Yoga vs. Yin Yoga

The practice of yoga comes with its own set of defined terms and vocabulary. Those new to yoga may struggle to understand the difference between the varying styles like Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative, and Yin. Certified yoga instructor Kimberly Alt-Brinser shares her experience as a beginner yoga student and how both Hatha and Yin Yoga directly influenced her life.

I was nineteen years old when I took my first Hatha Yoga Class at Temple University. As a Communications / Theater / Dance major, I wanted to see if yoga would improve my dance ability; to my great surprise the class was about much more than stretching and flexibility. My yoga teacher was a graceful soul that truly wanted us to find a better way of life through the practice of yoga. Guided by her instruction, the principles of Hatha left an imprint on my heart and inspired me to invite others to grow in the same gentle way.

hatha yoga matHatha: The Base of the Yoga Tree

Hatha yoga can be described as the base of the yoga tree with all other forms of yoga branching off to express different styles of this original form. Hatha is a great fit if you’re new to yoga or simply exploring which style is right for you. You’ll learn basic postures like:

These emphases guide us to slow down and escape from the fast-paced life many people build for themselves. A steadfast Hatha practice can be the invitation to refresh our souls, connect our physical lives with mind and body, and experience different forms of yoga.

Yin Yoga: Deep Mind-Body Connection

Years after discovering my love for yoga at Temple, I developed severe arthritis as a result of Lyme disease. I again entered practice—this time a Yin Yoga class—to find relief. All yoga classes stretch and strengthen us but Yin Yoga does so in a different way. Specific postures are held for three to five minutes. While postures are held, our body’s fascia, connective tissue, bones, ligaments, and tendons are able to slowly release and lengthen. An energetic mind may find this quite challenging but this process can help elevate our minds and bodies to find strength and relaxation in a different way. Until one feels the oppositional outcome of a deep release, it is hard to understand how our bodies will react in new postures. Through stillness, silence, and perseverance, Yin Yoga opens the door for a deeper mind body connection.

Each style of yoga fosters peace and growth for the student. Start with a Hatha class to master the basics of yoga before moving on more challenging classes like Yin that focus on deeper postures. To find out which yoga class is best for you, take our quiz!

Article by Kimberly Alt-Brinser