As a yoga teacher, it’s very common to hear this question.
Both new and experienced yogis are eager to know how much yoga they should be doing; but in reality there is no single correct response: As with everything in yoga our practice, the answer depends on the individual.
There are actually 5 questions you need to answer for yourself in order to determine what is ideal for your unique situation.
1. What Are Your Goals?
Are you using yoga as a means to lose weight, or are you more focused on the stress-relieving benefits?
If weightloss is your primary goal, then you’re going to want to structure your yoga routine as you would any other fitness regimen: practicing at a high intensity 3-5 times per week, with perhaps an additional 1-2 restorative classes thrown in to help relax on those days off.
However, if you are looking to yoga as a means to manage stress than you could benefit from performing a short, gentle yoga routine as often as daily.
2. What Other Exercise Do You Do?
Is yoga your sole form of exercise, or are you also a runner, swimmer or frequenting the gym?
Yoga is a fantastic compliment to any fitness routine, but if you’re already at the gym five days a week you may only fit in one yoga practice.
In contrast, if yoga is your main source of exercise than you will want to ensure you’re getting to your mat more frequently.
3. What Kind of Yoga Do You Practice?
The frequency will also depend on what style of yoga you are practicing. If your preferred class is Bikram or Ashtanga, then you’re going to need to allow your body to have some rest in between these highly vigorous workouts.
Whereas, if you prefer a gentle or restorative yoga than there is little physical restriction on how often you can practice.
Always remember to respect your body, overexerting yourself both in physical strength and flexibility can lead to injuries - which may result in you being unable to do any yoga while you recover.
4. How Long Are You Practicing?
You also need to consider the length of your practice. Obviously practicing yoga for 90 minutes every day is a lot more physically exhausting, as well as time constraining, than fitting in 30 minutes into your morning or evening routine.
If you prefer shorter yoga classes, than you may find yourself practicing daily; while those who opt for longer practices may wish to take a rest day (or two) in between.
5. What Fits With Your Lifestyle?
Many of the answers to the previous 4 questions rely heavily on how they coincide with the rest of your commitments and responsibilities.
Even the style of yoga we choose to practice is influenced by everything else going on in our lives: If you’re someone who is overly stressed or fatigued you’ll be naturally drawn to restorative practices; whereas if long days sitting down at the office have you craving to release pent up energy you’ll likely opt for a Vinyasa flow.
It’s very important to set health and wellness goals that are realistic to our situation. If your hectic lifestyle severely limits the time you can set aside for your yoga practice, than challenging yourself to fit in five 90 minute yoga practices a week is doing yourself a disservice.
Check out online yoga services like Grokker if you want to practice Yoga at home instead of going to a gym.
The Bottom Line
Yoga is about tuning in with your Self, and respecting your unique needs, and this remains the cardinal rule when deciding how often you’re going to roll out your mat.
Do not fall prey to the idea of “the more yoga the better.” The quality of your practice and this time you’re taking to honor and care for yourself is much more important than being able to boast to your friends about your daily yoga practice.
Take the time to listen to what your body, mind and soul are telling you: If it doesn’t feel good it’s not yoga.