When people first come to yoga, or even after many years of practice, they often come with the question of how often should you do yoga each week to reap the most benefits.
Whether you’re new to yoga and trying to incorporate it into your routine, or you’ve been practicing for a long time and are looking to either reignite or recommit to your practice, in this article, we will share a few tips to consider when you’re working on deciding how often you should practice.
You may even take the time to write them down, using them as journaling prompts, so when your willpower dims or you fall off of your routine, you can go back to these words and remember why you chose to commit in the first place:
- Committing to Your Practice
- What is the Purpose of Your Practice?
- What Elements of Yoga Interest You, and Why?
- Choosing Your Practice Space
- How Often Should You Do Yoga – Practice Length and Frequency
- How Yoga Frequency Increases Organically
Ready to commit to your yoga practice?
before you decide on the frequency of your practice, commit to your practice
Yoga is for everyone, yet it is not a one-size-fits-all type of practice as we often see in yoga studios across the globe, where the stereotypical white skinny young woman yogi seems to be the norm. Yoga is a practice that is adaptable and accessible from many angles. Choosing to add yoga into your week as a routine or a ritual requires that you understand where you are starting from and why you’re choosing to show up on your mat.
Just like everything in yoga, that’s a deeply personal question with a complex answer, yet the most important part is to take responsibility; Any time you want to bring a new habit into your life and maintain it, whether for a season or for the rest of your life, the first thing you must do is commit.
To some, commitment looks like getting an accountability partner, signing up for a course or a “challenge”, or simply penciling it into your digital or paper calendar.
But it goes deeper than that, because to commit to anything, whether it is a yoga practice, reading a book a month, or running a marathon before the end of the year, the frequency in which you do yoga is important, but what truly matters is our why.
What is the Purpose of Your Practice? – Find Your Why
Many people first come to yoga for external reasons, meaning, many come for the physical practice, the asana. After a while, many may recognize that there is much more to yoga than shapes with Sanskrit names, 8 whole limbs on the path of yoga to be exact; each of them with the purpose to get us a bit more in touch with our true nature and with divinity.
Before you can decide how often you should practice yoga every week, ask yourself, why do I practice? What is it that makes me come back to the mat again and again to the point that I am ready to commit time and energy weekly to do yoga?
A few reasons could be:
- Physical Health and Wellbeing
- Learning to be Present
- Balancing Energies
- Relaxing and Releasing Anxiety
Take the time to answer with honesty, and allow your answers to be as vague or as detailed as you feel appropriate. You can always go back to this and add more, or change the list as you evolve in your practice.Once you know why you do what you do, taking the time to consider the benefits that you are seeking and why you are choosing that activity over any other, showing up becomes a lot easier.
What Elements of Yoga Interest You Most?
As mentioned, yoga is not just one-dimensional and it can be practiced in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. The physical practice is only one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga (the third one to be exact), so there are many other ways to practice yoga that do not necessarily involve movement. Here are a few suggestions:
- Yin or Restorative Yoga
- Vinyasa or Flow Yoga
- Pranayama (breath work)
- Exploring Yogic Philosophy
These are just a few examples of styles of yoga that have a wide range of purposes, giving you the opportunity to explore and try things out until you find the practices that you resonate with you and that serve you most, always keeping your why in mind.
For example, if the reason you decide to practice yoga is to relax, perhaps you find that a combination of slow flow classes, meditation, and yin is what truly supports your intention, and if your Sankalpa is instead to find more energy, you may choose Ashtanga or Vinyasa yoga as a regular practice to awaken and sustain that energetic intention.
Choosing Your Practice Space
Another important element when you’re creating space for sustainable practice in your life, consider where you’ll be practicing.
You may start by asking yourself if you rather practice at home, or in a yoga studio. Are you going to do self-guided practices, or would you rather follow a teacher?
If you choose to practice in studio do your due diligence to find one that feels safe and where you can truly connect to the teachers that you will be learning from, as well as keep in mind your finances and what you are comfortable with spending.
If you choose to practice from home, set yourself up for success by creating and setting up your space. Whether you have a whole room to dedicate to your practice or a tiny corner by your bed, make it special; decorate it in a way that makes you want to go back to it again and again.
Also consider if you’ll be practicing self-guided or if you’ll want to subscribe to a yoga streaming service, or practice for free with Youtube videos.
Practice Length and Frequency – So, how often should you do yoga?
Once you begin to understand why you practice, how and what you want to practice, and even where you’ll practice, it becomes relevant to start considering how often you should practice yoga. Once you have all that information it becomes a lot easier to see the space that you have in your life to sustainably commit to it.
In a perfect world and for maximum benefit to ourselves, practicing daily for an hour or two would be quite beneficial, but again, it absolutely depends on which style of yoga you’re practicing and for what purpose.
Yoga (including meditation and all the other pieces of it too) is most beneficial when practiced regularly, since its effects are cumulative.
Sure it is great to go to a 75 minute class once a week at the local studio, because not only is it good for us but it is a way to create community and connection, yet it may be important to ask yourself if that creates enough consistency in your life to where you’ll stick with it, and where you’ll see benefits that are palpable.
With the effects being cumulative, the recommendation would be to practice for less length, and more frequency. Perhaps it serves you most to get on your mat daily for 15 or 20 minutes, creating a rhythm that supports your daily life, instead of it just becoming an activity that you do when the rest of your life allows.
The More you practice, the more you’ll practice!
Many people find that when they stick to a routine daily, even if it’s for less length than what they think “they should” they begin to find more and more space for it in their lives almost organically. The 15 minute practice at 6 am turns into a 30 minute practice once we realize we don’t need to scroll on Instagram before work, and we rather have a little bit more time in meditation before starting the day instead.
It takes time to prove to yourself that getting up at the crack of dawn to practice is worth it, and your mind may try to sabotage your efforts if you let it. When that happens, find your notebook, read your why, brush it off, and get back to it. And again and again, every time you fall off your practice, return to your why.
Be compassionate with yourself
Life will happen, the length and frequency of your practice will change, the style or styles of yoga that serve you and you connect to will evolve, your why will transform as you move through your life.
As long as you can be honest with yourself and rearrange your practice to fit your life instead of trying to do it the other way around, when you find grace and compassion for yourself when you fall off the practice, the benefits and the growth will simply unfold before you.
For more tips on how to start a yoga routine, check out this article.