You’ve finally put on your yoga bra and taken your first class. For most beginners, the next step is deciding how often to practice. Unsurprisingly, the answer to this depends on a number of factors. Before making the decision, you must consider your goals in using yoga, what type of practice suits you best, and whether committing to a certain number of sessions per week is right for you. Ultimately, the right amount of practice varies from person to person. In this article, we explore how often should you practice yoga in more detail.
People take up yoga for a number of reasons. For some, it’s to find relief from chronic pain or discomfort. For others, it’s at the advice of a mental health practitioner to combat anxiety or depression.
Some yogis are less concerned about their health, and more interested in the spiritual teachings of the practice. Ultimately, this side of yoga can help you train your mind to trust and let go. Over time, this can help to increase your general health and happiness. If you’re into sports, you may practice yoga to build your strength and endurance, or to stretch out tight muscles after an intense workout. Alternatively, you may go into yoga with no particular goal other than to feel good. Once you understand your long-term goals, you’ll be able to decide how often you should practice each week.
If you’re hoping to improve your mental health, try to practice for a short time each day. Take just ten minutes each morning to meditate and clear your mind. Some yogis find it helpful to recite a few affirmations that help ease anxiety. For instance, if you’re anxious about an upcoming meeting, try using a phrase such as ‘I’ve survived this before, I’ll survive this now’.
If you participate in other workouts, practising yoga once or twice per week may be enough. If your sports training is intense, try using yoga on your rest days to soothe and rejuvenate your body. If you’re interested in the spiritual teachings of yoga, immerse yourself in the practice by training daily. Throughout the week, alternate between meditation, asanas, and pranayama for best results. If you’ve started yoga to ease chronic back pain, practice yoga as and when necessary. With time, you’ll get to know what works best for you.
Before deciding how often to practice, consider whether you’ll be inspired or restricted by a set schedule. Some people enjoy practising daily. If you’re a planner, you may appreciate the ritual and discipline of this habit. Other people don’t like to stick to a set routine. If you find that setting a practice plan makes you feel stressed, it may not be the best way forward; Instead, practice whenever you’re in the mood. This way, you’ll see your practice as a pastime rather than a chore.
Even if you set a practice plan, you may not be able to stick to it. Some weeks, you may be able to achieve daily practice, while others, you may only make it to the studio once. It’s important to remember that’s OK. Sometimes, other things are more important than time on the mat. To continue to enjoy yoga, try to set a plan that works for you. If you’re a planner, set a schedule that’s challenging but achievable. If you don’t work well under pressure, let your practice vary from week to week.
When deciding how often to practice, ask yourself what you mean by ‘yoga’. Do you mean a 60-minute vinyasa flow class, a 30-minute restorative session, or 10-minutes of mindful meditation? While long sessions have their benefits, don’t assume that shorter practice doesn’t count. As long as you’re focussed, any duration is going to do you good.
If you’re practising for more than an hour, you may only be able to commit to one session per week. If you’re using meditation and mantras, however, you may find daily practice achievable. If you do choose to practice daily, try to vary your focus throughout the week. If you practice an active style one day, try a restorative session the next. Not only will the variation keep your body healthy, but it will also help you to avoid boredom. If you’re practising the same style each day, it can start to feel a little repetitive. To keep things new, vary your yoga style throughout the week.
The beauty of yoga is that it can be used by anyone. It’s not restricted to the young and active; Instead, people of all ages and abilities can use the holistic practice. Before setting a rigid practice schedule, consider what your life will allow. If you’re a working mum, daily practice may be unrealistic. Although yoga can give you some well-deserved ‘me-time’, daily practice can become stressful if you’re pushed for time. Instead, set aside one or two hours each week to focus on yoga. This way, you can reap the benefits without using too much of your precious time.
It’s also important to let your practice evolve with you. If you’re young and agile, practising six times per week may be doable. However, as you get older, other commitments may take more prominence.
Yoga is a highly personal practice. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all. When deciding how often to practice, you must consider your long-term goals, personality, and what your life will allow. Only then can you decide how often to put on your yoga hoodie.