The practice of yoga may be synonymous with Indian culture, but over the past few decades, it has been adopted and reinvented by people all over the world. Today, you’ll find many different types of yoga being practiced in studios all over the world, from physically demanding versions like power yoga and ashtanga yoga to more traditional practices. There is, however, one type that has gained popularity for being a slower, more meditative version of yoga, called yin yoga. Scroll ahead to learn more about it.

What is yin yoga?

The practice of yin yoga is based on ancient Chinese philosophies and Taoist principles, which believe that there are pathways of Qi (energy) running through our bodies. It’s a much slower and more meditative practice, designed to help you sit longer, and more comfortably, in meditation by stretching connective tissue around the joints (mainly the knees, pelvis and spine). A passive practice, Yin Yoga involves variations of seated and supine poses typically held for 3 to 5 minutes. Practitioners believe that by stretching and deepening into poses, they open up any blockages and release Qi to flow freely. It also gives you space to turn inward and tune into both your mind and the physical sensations of your body.

What are the benefits of yin yoga?

1. Increases flexibility

Yin yoga specifically targets your body’s fascial system, which is made up of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber and muscle in place. Because fascia needs at least 120 seconds of sustained stretching to actually affect its elasticity, yin is one of the most effective ways at improving your flexibility and releasing tension in tight spots thanks to its long holds.

2. Boosts circulation

By breathing into each pose and targeting deeper tissues and ligaments, yin yoga practitioners can bring more oxygen into their bodies and muscles. This helps increase blood flow and circulation.

3. Reduces stress levels

Studies have found yin yoga to have a significant impact on lowering stress and anxiety and reducing risk of depression. It is also known to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which calms your body and slows your heart rate.

Who is it for?

Considering the balance yin yoga can restore with its slow, meditative practice, it’s safe to say that it is a great option for everyone leading hectic, fast-paced lives. Since this style is more restorative than other forms of yoga, it’s also beneficial for people dealing with injuries or chronic conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis. Moreover, it can be a great starting point for anyone interested in meditation, as it has such an internal focus.

Yin yoga may not be a sweaty, intense form of exercise, but that doesn’t make it any less of a workout. Give it a try the next time you’re in an exercise rut to experience its many physical and mental health benefits for yourself.