Monday, July 8, 2013

Randomly Asked Questions: How Often Should I Practice Yoga?

I love this question. It's so deceptively simple! Yay!

What makes yoga really work is consistency. It's most important that you practice habitually - on a regular basis, that is - in order to experience the benefits of the practice.

To an extent, that still doesn't answer the question, but it's the right starting point. From here, it mostly goes into two things: my opinion (based on experience) and the tradition.

You'll note that we often encourage people just starting out to come once a week. This is because starting a yoga practice is about developing a habit to create consistency to get the benefits. It's much easier to commit to "once per week for 45 minutes" than to "every day." It just is.

And to be honest, just once a week is enough to get the benefits of yoga. Ryan loves to lift weights and go for his runs and do his foam rolling. It doesn't leave a whole lot of time for yoga, in all honesty. But, he practices once a week - and has for years - and he's noticed that it really makes a difference in the overall quality of both his physical well being and his mental calm. Without that weekly practice, he's just a bit more stressed, a bit tighter than he is when he's "on" the yoga!

So, once a week is a great place to get started and to also get the benefits of yoga practice.

Now from this point we're going to dive into the differences between practice versus class and the different traditional perspectives on these things.

Traditionally speaking, you practice yoga daily and - according to my earlier teachers, at least - you take class about twice a week. Later teachers suggested taking "as many classes as you want," and I found that I really liked taking four a week. That was my sweet spot.

Because yoga works in terms of volume training, the idea is to do yoga frequently. The truth is, the more you practice, the more quickly you experience results in terms of both mind and body. This is why I give the suggestion of the 3-4-pose home yoga practice at the end of class. Doing a little bit every day goes a long way!

Now, of course, not everyone does autonomous practice every day. That's okay! The truth is that yoga is a tool for you to use the way you want to, in a way that fits comfortably into your life. If daily practice isn't for you, then that's fine!

And this takes us to classes. The reality is that you can come as much as you want.

There are no real rules around this. Some people prefer the group setting for its community and energy. It's what I love about class! Others really like the encouragement that the teacher provides during class, as well as the learning process that comes with it. And others find that the accountability of showing up for class really keeps them motivated. There are lots of reasons to go to class!

I find that - for me - four classes a week is great. I just prefer that, and then have a home practice besides. It's just what works for me. Others find that one class a week is good, others two, and we have a couple of folks who come 5-6 times a week! And, most of them have home practice in between, and some just take a few days off between classes. It's really and truly up to you!

No comments: