Yoga has exploded in popularity over the last few decades, and you’ve probably heard about some of its benefits. You get stronger and more flexible, you tap into a well of inner peace, and you improve nearly every area of your life. You’ve decided you want to dive in, but you’re left with one question: “How often should I do yoga?”
The way you establish your yoga practice is a personal choice and depends on what you want to get from your practice. Every person’s needs are different, and so every practice will look a little different, too. Read on to learn how to decide how often you should practice yoga.
Define Your Goals
The truth of the matter is there’s no one answer to the question, “How often should I do yoga?” Yoga is a tool that can help many areas of your life, and how you use it depends on your needs. So the first thing you need to do is define your goals for your practice.
Do you want to use yoga as a simple, flexible way to set up a daily workout regimen? Do you want it to be an approach to mindfulness and meditation to calm your mind? Or do you want to start on the path to being able to bend your body into amazing poses and strengthen your muscles?
Consider Your Priorities
During this stage of consideration, you also need to take a look at your priorities in life. How much of a priority yoga is for you will affect how often you set up your practice. There is no right answer for how big of a priority yoga needs to be for you; it all depends on your lifestyle.
If work or family commitments are a major part of your life right now, you may only have time to practice once or twice a week. On the other hand, if you find yourself constantly out of balance physically, mentally, or emotionally, making it a priority to practice every day could be important to you. As we said, there are no right answers, only what will work best for your life right now.
For a Calmer Mind
One of the main benefits of yoga is that it can help calm inner turmoil and reduce anxiety. If this is your priority with your yoga practice, the frequency with which you practice can vary a lot. It will all depend on how often you find that you need your yoga practice to ground yourself.
If you’re in an extremely anxious period of your life, you may find that you need to do a quick yoga practice a couple of times a day. This can be as simple as doing three minutes of square breathing or alternate nostril breathing, or hanging out in child’s pose for a few minutes. During less tumultuous times, you may be able to return to your mat a couple of times a week to ground yourself and release your anxiety.
For Better Balance
Maybe your goal with yoga is to strengthen your core and improve your balance, both in mind and body. The good news is that if this is your goal, any yoga practice in your life at all will help you start to see the results you want. Whether you practice once a day or once a week, your balance will start to improve.
Of course, the more you practice, the more (and faster) you will see improvement. Your balance will change some from day to day, depending on how you slept and what you have done throughout the day. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t always see consistent improvement. Keep up with your practice as often as you can and soon even your bad days will be better than your best days were before.
For More Flexibility
You may have seen pictures of yogis doing amazing poses where they seem to float or tie themselves in knots. If it’s your goal to be that flexible, you’re going to need to set up a more regular yoga practice. Flexibility is a “use it or lose it” kind of skill, and if you want to be able to pretzel yourself into those poses, you need to be using those skills on a regular basis.
Ideally, in order to improve your flexibility, you should be practicing yoga three to five times a week. This will help keep you limber and change your muscles quickly enough that you should start to see your flexibility improving after a short period of time. You may also notice that you’re less sore when you keep this schedule and that your posture improves.
For Stronger Muscles
Not only does it take a lot of flexibility to do some of those poses, it takes a lot of strength. You have to be able to contort your body into that position and then hold it there. This may take a lot of core and arm strength, especially for some of the handstands and “levitation” poses.
If you’re wanting to get stronger through your yoga practice, it’s more about what type of yoga you’re doing rather than how often you’re practicing. You want to look for something like power vinyasa or power yoga that work to transform your body. If you can take these classes three times a week, you’ll start to see impressive results in a short period of time.
Types of Yoga
In addition to different practice schedules, there are also different types of yoga you can choose from based on your goals. These types vary in how they approach the practice and what sort of moves they focus on. Some are more about slow, deep, mindful breathing, and others focus on developing strength in your movements.
Vinyasa and ashtanga yoga are both focused more on powerful moves that build strength. Restorative yoga is slower-paced and is designed to relieve stress and focus on gentle stretching. Bikram yoga can be what you make it and focuses on a set sequence of postures that creates a flow.
Taking Yoga Off the Mat
Of course, the question of how often to practice yoga assumes that your time on the mat is the only time you’re practicing. But done properly, yoga is something that should permeate your entire life. It’s a practice of mindfulness and peace that flows through your relationships, your work, your home life, and your emotional health.
When you find yourself in line at the store and frustrated at the wait, take a deep breath and reach into that reservoir of peace that you find during your time on the mat. Use deep breathing techniques to calm yourself when you find yourself in a fight with your partner. Be mindful and find joy in every step of your life, and you won’t need to only rely on your time on the mat for your peace.
How to Get Started
If you’ve never tried yoga before, it can seem intimidating to dive into a class or practice for the first time. How do you know what to wear or how to get to that mindset of peace and presence that characterizes this exercise? But the beauty of yoga is that it’s accessible to everyone, no matter your skill level.
In general, you want to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. Look for a class in your area that can guide you through the basics of yoga. Listen to your body; becoming aware of your breath and motion will start to help you develop that yogic headspace.
How to Establish a Practice
Establishing a regular practice is as simple (and hard) as committing to it. It can be so easy to go through a week or a month intending to practice and then never getting around to it. Your practice has to be something that you commit to showing up for, just like you would with any other appointment.
Even if you can’t make it to a class, take five minutes in the morning, right before bed, or on your lunch break to go through a few quick poses. Take a couple of deep breaths while you’re washing your hands or folding laundry. Try to focus on being present where you are and you’ll start to see the benefits of yoga throughout your life.
Answer, “How Often Should I Do Yoga?”
The question, “How often should I do yoga?” is a challenging one. It all depends on what you want to get from your practice and where your energy has to go at this point in your life. Whatever you decide, commit to that practice and you’ll soon discover the peace and strength that can come from yoga.
If you’d like to get started with a yoga practice, check out the rest of our site at I’m Centred. We have resources and advice for anyone looking to incorporate yogic practices into their life. Check out our favorite cool facts you should know about yoga and get inspired to start your practice today.