How Often Should You Practice Yoga? This question is asked quite a lot by newbie yogis and although ideally it should be practiced everyday this is often not realistic for many. How often one should practice Yoga also depends on many other factors, which will differ from one Yoga practitioner to the next.
What are you goals?
This varies from one person to the next and will help to determine how often you should practice Yoga. Goals can include anything from relieving chronic pain to weight loss, though many yogis practice for overall health and flexibility. Of course the more you practice the faster you will reach your particular goals, but this is not always realistic for some, as jobs and home life often get in the way.
Practicing Yoga regularly will increase flexibility, balance, strength, and digestion, as well as improve concentration and awareness. Consistency is the key, so a regular practice is very important, but how regular depends on your own goals. Plus, it is better to do a little bit of Yoga than no Yoga at all, but the more you practice the more you will feel the full effects of it on your body, mind, and soul.
What type of Yoga do you practice?
The style of yoga practiced is an important factor on how often Yoga should be practiced. For starters, different styles of Yoga have different effects on the body. Styles like Hatha and Restorative Yoga are designed to not only increase flexibility but also to calm the mind and connect ones’ body, mind and soul. Yin Yoga is more of a flowing, meditative style of Yoga, while Kundilini’s main focus is on creating awareness through breathing and movement. Iyengar Yoga focuses on proper alignment, while Bikram Yoga is practiced in a 104°F room; and although it does concentrate on flexibility, it is also used as a weight loss regime. At the end of the day, all of these styles of yoga increase mindfulness, flexibility, and strength, and are often practiced an average of 3 times per week.
Then there is Ashtanga Yoga, which is often also known as Vinyasa Yoga. Ashtanga Yoga is a more vigorous style of yoga that is meant to be practiced daily, or sometimes even twice a day, in order to get the full effects of it. It strengthens muscles, is great for cardiovascular health, increases flexibility, and aids in concentration. Ashtanga Yoga is based on the eight limbs of Yoga; Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, and is one of the more advanced styles of Yoga that is practiced today.
What is your schedule?
This, of course, plays an important role on how often you should practice yoga. Ideally, yoga should be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, which means hitting a Yoga class before heading to the office. By doing this regularly your body will get used to rising early to go to a Yoga class and it will become a regular part of your daily life. Even doing this 2-3 times per week will greatly impact your everyday life. Doing Yoga regularly will improve sleep, alleviate stress and have an overall positive outcome on your life.
Some people may not have time to practice in the morning due to things going on at home, and instead opt to go to a Yoga class in the evening after work. There is nothing wrong with practicing in the evening, just be aware of what you eat beforehand. Generally, no food should be consumed 2-3 hours before practicing yoga. As well, some find that after a long day Yoga wakes them up a bit and gives them energy, helping them to relax and sleep better once at home.
Yoga is becoming such a popular and important part of Western culture that some businesses offer Yoga to their employees, bringing in a Yoga teacher to conduct classes at the office. Although these classes are often short, they are a great start and will still have a positive effect on you. Employers are starting to recognize the positive impact that Yoga has, especially in terms of reducing stress and aiding in concentration, so offering it to their employee’s results in better work productivity and overall happiness around the office.
What injuries do you have?
This can impact how often Yoga should be practiced, especially when it comes to chronic pain. Yoga releases tension throughout the entire body and stretches muscles, which when tight create chronic pain. By doing even a gentle practice muscles are loosened, which in turn releases stress on the body and reduces or even alleviates chronic pain. Many physiotherapists use Yoga as a tool in rehabilitation to help reduce pain, strengthen muscles, and increase ones overall health after an injury.
It is also great for mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD, and it is often recommended to patients by those in the psychiatric field. The calming effect that Yoga has is a great tool for those with mental health issues, as it makes them calmer, more content, and more aware. Practicing Yoga increases chemicals in the brain that create a general feeling of happiness and lower stress levels. This is not to say that it will cure someone with a mental health disorder, but it will definitely help, especially when practiced daily.
What other exercise are you doing?
If the main goal in practicing Yoga is weight loss than you will have to add other types of exercise into your life, specifically cardiovascular exercise. Yoga is not exercise, so you cannot expect to lose weight from Yoga alone. Healthy eating and cardiovascular exercise should be added to your Yoga practice. As well, if you already do other forms of exercise, like weight-lifting, running, or Pilates, than you do not necessarily have to do Yoga daily, though you should always do basic stretching. But sometimes too much exercise has a negative effect on the body, as it will tire the muscles and you, so if other fitness regimes are a regular part of your life than the frequency in your Yoga practice can be a minimum, like 2-3 times per week.
How often you should practice Yoga depends on you, but generally 3 times a week is ideal. Still, if you are practicing to build strength, stamina, and flexibility, this should be increased to 5 or 6 times per week, while those practicing Yoga to heal an injury may want to start by doing Yoga 2 times per week and increasing as the injury gets better and strength increases. Those doing Yoga for a mental health disorder will find that a daily practice, even if it is just Pranayama (breathing exercises), will greatly impact their lives.