This question comes up a lot and as usual there will be different answers to it depending on your goals and lifestyle
Once a week
It’s really great to develop a weekly yoga practice and if you roll out your mat once every 7 days you will definitely start to feel the benefits over time. You will notice that it gives you a break from the busyness of your week, allows you to switch off and relax the mind whilst opening and strengthening the body. Once a week also works well if you take other forms of exercise in the week and you may find it a brilliant form cross training for other sports like running.
Weekly is really the minimum you should practice, if you are inconsistent and don’t make it regularly to class, you will find you are starting from scratch every time you come. You won’t notice much progress in your strength and flexibility and you may find it more difficult to focus your mind and concentrate on your breath. This can lead to frustration with yourself and a feeling that you are just not getting anywhere.
We all get better at what we do, so regularity and repetition are really important if you want to experience yoga’s many benefits.
Twice a week
Now we’re talking! Try upping your practice to twice a week, the difference will be amazing!! You will notice that your body feels stronger and that your normal aches and pains feel better. You may also start to notice that your mind is calmer and more focused when you are not at yoga. It becomes easier to take the lessons of yoga into your day to day.
You could attend another class with the same teacher or try a different teacher for variety. Or you could use an online class. There are loads of subscription services out there like Yoga Glo, Gaia and Yoga International and youtube also has quite a few free classes.
Just try it for a few weeks and see how you feel!
3-4 times a week
You may be wondering if it’s safe to practice this often and I would say yes, if you listen to your body! If you have been practicing for a while you will know that every time you step onto the mat is different, you have different energy levels and your body needs different things. Be wary of pushing yourself so hard that you feel tired or depleted, you might want to mix up styles of yoga so that some days you take a gentler hatha or yin class, or do a 30-minute practice instead of an hour. Be aware of any pain from repetitive stress on the body, like wrists from down ward dogs. There are always modifications you can do so ask your yoga teacher what they advise.
At this stage, you may feel experienced enough to develop your own home practice, some pranayama (breathing exercises), sun salutes, standing postures like balances and Warrior postures, seated postures, and relaxation. Mix it up a bit depending on what you feel your body needs. Pay attention to proper alignment and always practice with a sense of kindness and patience towards yourself.
Yoga can be a daily ritual and an important part of your day. There is no set time limit or way to practice and it will depend on how much time you have available. You may find a daily meditation practice and a few sun salutes in the morning, really sets you up for the day or an evening pranayama and gentle restorative postures a great way to transition from your day to bedtime.
We are all different and our yoga practice will serve a different purpose for each of us but the more you make yoga a part of your life, the more you will feel the benefits in your life. Wouldn’t it be great to feel as god as you feel at the end of savasana every day?!
See you on the mat.