How Often Should You Do Yoga?
So, you want to start a yoga practice, but you aren’t sure of how often you should practice? Well, in short, the answer to the question “How often should I do yoga?” depends on your desired outcomes - your goals. However, there is much more to it than your goals alone. Allow us to break it down for you.
When beginning a yoga practice, or revising the one you already have, it is important to get clear on what it is that you want to accomplish. What are your goals in yoga? Are you looking to get more fit? Or perhaps calm your mind? Are you looking for relaxation or stimulation? These are all important things to consider when deciding how often you should do yoga. Something else to keep in mind is your state of health. Are you relatively healthy and fit? Are you just starting out at yoga or are you a seasoned veteran? Do you have any health restrictions?
In this article, we are going to take a look at how often you should do yoga to see results according to your specific goals and your current state of health. Yoga is all about the journey, not the destination, so this is not a fixed schedule for your yoga needs. This will change over time, as it should. The longer you practice, perhaps the more you will want to or need to practice. There is also a matter of your state of fitness. Once you become more fit, you may have more stamina and want to practice more. Doing yoga is an ongoing process and is constantly changing. So let’s take a look at how often you should do yoga.
Are you doing yoga for fitness and weight loss?
Many people see yoga as an excellent source of fitness and exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy adult should get around 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week. Yoga is a great way to get your body moving and it can even help you get into shape and lose that extra weight you’ve been wanting to shed. So, if you are looking to gain strength, build muscles, or lose weight (or any combination of these things), then how often should you practice yoga?
Well, the answer depends on your body type. According to VeryWell Fit, yoga is a great way to build strength, tone muscles, and help you become more flexible. However, yoga alone isn’t usually enough to shed those pounds as it doesn’t increase the heart rate enough (depending on the type of yoga). So, if you are looking for weight loss, then you may want to consider doing yoga a couple of times a week and alternating between it and another type of exercise such as cardio. The combination of the two can be a great way to lose weight and feel great about your body.
So, if you are going to use yoga mainly for fitness, it is ideal to do yoga two to three times a week, alternating between that and a cardio workout (running, swimming, long-distance walks, etc.). You can also add in some weight training in there to really help tone muscle and reduce fat.
Do you want to use yoga for relaxation?
Yoga has many benefits, and one of them is relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety. This is a big reason many people begin their yoga practice, and it is definitely a good one. Yoga calms the mind, releases endorphins to create a feeling of happiness, and relaxes the mind and body. So if you are using yoga for this reason, how often should you practice?
Well, this is entirely up to you. For people who have a stressful job or consider themselves to be a stressed person in general, then yoga should probably be practiced as often as possible. Even every day if possible. You can practice yoga every day for 20 minutes a day and really see and feel the results.
Yoga for mind relaxation can be done at any time and anywhere you feel comfortable. You don’t have to complete an hour-long vinyasa flow to feel the effects, either! Simply practicing yoga for 20 minutes a day can reduce stress and anxiety and bring a calming feeling to your day. So, if you are wanting to use yoga for relaxation, we suggest practicing every day, at least for 20 minutes or so. If this is not possible, then just as often as you can, and especially when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Either pop into a class, put on a video, or go through a few sun salutations yourself. You will feel so much better after!
How often should you do yoga for better sleep?
Another wonderful benefit of doing yoga is the improvement of sleep quality. If you have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, or any combination of the two, then you should absolutely try yoga. According to Harvard Health, as many as one in four Americans sleep less than six hours a night. This, over time, can cause some more serious issues such as sleep deprivation and chronic health problems like diabetes, heart issues, and stroke.
Studies have shown that by incorporating yoga into your routine, you can fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and improve the quality of your sleep, therefore reducing the risks involved in sleep deprivation. So how often should you do yoga to improve your sleep?
In this case, it is recommended to practice yoga every day. Just 30 minutes of yoga before bed can make a huge difference in your sleep patterns and have you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day in the morning. Just a simple practice incorporating a few different moves and stretches can be incredibly beneficial and there are several great yoga poses for better sleep. So, if you are looking to sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning, then try just 30 minutes of yoga before bed every night.
How often should you do yoga for flexibility?
The follow-up question is how flexible are you naturally? This will weigh in heavily on how much yoga you need to practice in order to become as flexible as you are aiming for. If you are naturally flexible, then perhaps an hour or two of yoga a week could be enough.
However, if you are not as limber as you would like and it is hard to even touch your toes, then perhaps you could benefit from daily yoga, or even every other day. So, the answer to how often you should do yoga to increase your flexibility lies within your own body. Of course, any amount of yoga will help your muscles and joints limber up and become more flexible.
If you are wanting to become more flexible, you should also look at the type of yoga you are doing. While all yoga will help to increase flexibility, yin yoga may be a bit more beneficial, as you hold the poses for longer and really sink into the stretches. This type of yoga is good for all levels and is excellent for flexibility and relaxation. Of course, any type of yoga you do will help your joints and muscles become more limber and loose. So, if your end goal is to become flexible, then we suggest practicing as much as possible, but at least a couple times a week for consistency.
Are you wanting to start a yoga practice?
If you are a beginner at yoga and haven’t developed a practice yet, then you may be wondering how much time you should devote to it. The answer is as much as you can. When beginning a yoga practice, you should worry more about forming a habit and less about the end results. Of course, these results will develop over time, but not without some form of consistency.
So, if you are looking to develop your yoga practice and are just starting out, then hop on your mat as often as you can! Sign up for some classes a few times a week, or put on a video after work every day. Even starting out at 30 minutes a day can help you dive into your practice and create the habit and consistency that you need.
Another word of advice: don’t overthink it. Some people have the time and energy to practice yoga every day, and that is wonderful. However, not everyone can do that. If you can’t, don’t sweat it. After all, it is your practice and simply practicing 1-2 times a week is a great way to see the benefits. So do what you can and work with what you’ve got. But just remember, there is no time like the present to get started.
Is there such a thing as too much yoga?
Believe it or not, there is. Just like all other good things in life, we need to take it in moderation. Overdoing it can lead to injuries and distractions. It can take away from the real reason you are practicing in the first place. Focusing on the fact that you need to get in your yoga practice takes away from the relaxation and other benefits of the practice.
Of course, if you are listening to your body and doing hours of yoga a day is benefitting you in some way, then by all means, continue! What we are saying is don’t lose sight of the why behind the practice. Don’t forget to be present in the moment and focus on the benefits of your practice because you are so focused on the fact that you have to do it. Also, be sure to listen to your body.
If your body is tired and feels like skipping practice one day, then by all means, skip! One day will not hurt you or your practice. It is when those days become consistent that your practice is broken and you need to reevaluate. Also, if you have hurt yourself in any way or your muscles are not feeling good, then give yourself some time to rest. You can always try some gentle stretches to lengthen the muscles and relieve some pain. And, of course, meditation and breathwork are always available to you, no matter where you are or what you have going on.
So, if you are wondering how often you should do yoga, then ask yourself the question: What do I want to achieve? Once you have answered that, then you can decide on how many times a week (or day) you practice. Don’t forget, consistency is key with these things and it may take a while to develop a routine. But once you do, you will be glad you did. So grab your natural cork yoga mat and get to practicing! Namaste.
Photo credit : Unsplash
Video credit : Youtube
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