In the practice of yoga, there is tons of flexibility (no pun intended) and the ability to make the practice your own. That is what is so great about it. A person, no matter how experienced in yoga they are, can practice however they want. Of course, there are some yoga practices that are more strict than others, but for the most part, a yoga practitioner can develop their own way of doing things and still reap the many benefits of yoga. This brings us to the question of how long do you hold a yoga pose?
While there is no straight answer for this, there are some things that you can take into consideration that will help you decipher how long to hold each pose for. As you continue reading this article, we will dive deeper into some factors that you should take into consideration when determining the length of holding a pose. We will also look at the benefits of holding yoga poses for longer, though this won’t always have a bearing on whether or not you should hold them for a long time or not. Let’s get started.
Factors To Determine How Long To Hold A Pose
While ultimately it is up to the practitioner, there are a few things to take into consideration when determining how long you should hold a yoga pose. Let’s take a look at some determining factors:
- The style of yoga you are practicing can determine the length of the hold. There are several different types of yoga one can practice. From Ashtanga to Vinyasa, Yin to Hatha, and so many in between, the style of yoga you want to practice can help determine the amount of time you will hold a pose. Let’s take faster-paced yoga practices into consideration such as Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Power Yoga. Each of these styles of yoga encourage movement and flow rather than holding poses for long periods of time. This means that you will likely hold a pose for less time during these yoga practice styles. However, yoga styles like Yin, Restorative, Hatha, and Iyengar really focus more on the pose and less on the flow. They take it one pose at a time and will sometimes hold a certain pose for a couple of minutes at a time. These yoga styles focus on connecting with the breath, stretching the muscles, and really sinking into the pose, whereas faster flow yoga styles focus on more movement and connecting the breath with this movement. So, the style of yoga you choose to practice will play a big role in how long you hold a yoga pose.
- Your goals will play a big role. The goals you set for yourself will weigh in heavily on how long you will hold yoga poses. For example, if your goal is more flexibility, then we suggest holding poses for longer. This will give your muscles a longer time to stretch, as well as help with muscle memory. If you are working on strength, then there is no need to hold the poses for as long. Vinyasa or Power yoga are great for building strength and oftentimes do not hold poses for longer than a breath or two. If you are working on balance, then holding yoga poses for longer is probably your best bet. Typically, yoga poses are counted in breaths, so for balance and/or flexibility, holding a pose for five to 10 breaths may be helpful as it gives you time to really sink into the pose.
- Consider the pose. Some poses are meant to be held longer than others. For example, you will probably be able to hold Downward Facing Dog for quite a bit longer than you would Chaturanga. That is because Chaturanga is a more challenging pose that requires a lot of strength and stability. Of course, that’s not to say that you don’t have that strength and stability, but it is typically not very comfortable to hold Chaturanga for more than a breath or two. So, when you are in different poses, listen to how your body is feeling and move accordingly.
- Listen to your body. There is no one size fits all when it comes to holding yoga poses. While there are certain factors that play into how long you should hold a pose, it ultimately comes down to listening to your body and doing what’s right for you. On average, an instructor will have you hold a pose for three to five breaths (around 30 seconds). However, if a pose is feeling really nice and you want to stay in it for longer, then do it. Yoga is about connecting the body and mind. It is about listening to your body and creating a practice that best suits you. That is why you should listen to it and stay for longer if the mood strikes. Another way to look at it is “finding your edge”. Baron Baptiste mentions this quite a lot in his book and it means that rather than staying in your comfort zone, you should push a bit further. So if you are in a challenging pose and want to come out, perhaps stay in for one more breath. Push your boundaries (to a certain extent), but listen to your body. If you can take that extra breath, then do it. You will be surprised what your body is capable of.
Benefits Of Holding Poses For Longer
While not every pose needs to be held for a longer count, there are some benefits of holding certain poses for longer. Some benefits include:
- Building strength and stamina
- Enhancing flexibility
- Encouraging mindfulness
- Improving stability and balance
- Helping to improve respiration
Of course, not all yoga poses are meant to be held for longer, and you must listen to your body to ensure that you are practicing correctly and responsibly. However, with many poses, these are just some of the many benefits that can be had by holding them for longer. So how do you know what poses to hold for longer? Well, continue reading for specific poses and how long to hold them to receive these benefits.
Yoga Poses And How Long To Hold Them
Let’s take a look at some different yoga poses and the suggested length of time to hold them in order to reap the benefits. Again, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. If you are practicing a Vinyasa flow or a Power flow, then you will probably not hold these poses for quite as long. However, these are simply suggestions for possible times to hold each pose on your cork yoga mat. Let’s get started
- Downward Facing Dog: This pose can be very beneficial for its practitioner. It helps to wake you up, encourages healthy digestion, strengthens and lengthens leg and thigh muscles, as well as back and arm muscles, and can boost circulation. It is recommended that you hold this pose for at least 1 minute and up to 3 minutes. This may sound a bit daunting at first, but if you are doing the pose correctly, it should be comfortable and easy to breathe deeply and relax into the pose.
- Child’s Pose: Another very beneficial pose, this yoga posture can help with relaxation and mental stability, as well as stretching the hips, thighs, and ankles. It can help to reduce fatigue and stress, and it also helps to stretch and relax back muscles. The suggested amount of time to stay in Child’s Pose is between 1 and 3 minutes - or as long as you choose. This is a passive pose, so it is easy to stay in for longer amounts of time and can be very beneficial as well.
- Mountain Pose: This traditional pose is one of power and strength, yet doesn’t typically exert too much energy. It is a grounding pose that makes a great starting position for other poses. It is also a great tool for improving posture and relaxing in between other poses. The suggested hold time for this pose is between 30 and 60 seconds, but you can hold this pose for as long as you’d like in order to reap the benefits.
- Savasana: We all know Savasana has many benefits such as relaxation, mental clarity, coming back to your breath, grounding, and so much more. This pose should be practiced at the end of each yoga session and can be held for anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes. Of course, the longer you hold it, the more beneficial it can become. However, if you only have a few moments, take those. Don’t skip it!
Now that we’ve gone over the answer to the question “how long do you hold a yoga pose?” you can get on your cork yoga mat and begin practicing! Enjoy your practice and try not to focus too much on how long you are holding your poses. You don’t want it to distract you from your actual practice. Always stay with your breath and enjoy the amazing benefits of your yoga practice. Namaste.
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