How Often Should You Do Yoga? What We Have to Say
How often you should do yoga is not as simple of an answer as it may seem. It depends on the style of yoga you choose, what other exercise you may do, your injury history, and overall lifestyle.
Some individuals, such as athletes, should do yoga more often, while other individuals, such as those that have foot/ankle injuries should do yoga less often.
How Often Should You Practice Yoga?
If you're fairly fit and exercise regularly, then you should practice yoga between two to five times per week. However, one number doesn't apply to everyone. Some people might need to practice yoga more than others.
The main thing your yoga frequency depends on is your goals. Whether your goal is to increase flexibility, burn calories through exercise, or practicing mindfulness, it’s imperative to identify your individual goal for practicing yoga, and that will guide you towards how often you should practice yoga.
What is Your Goal With Yoga?
For many of us, especially those of us who sit at a desk or work at a computer, it is common to have goals of stress relief, increasing flexibility, or simply adding more movement to your life.
But it’s important to also take a broader view of your goals, as your primary goal with yoga can be impacted by how much time you have, your financial status, or your occupation.
Adding perspective to your yoga goals can help you figure out how often you should practice yoga.
Doing Yoga for Stronger Muscles
Yoga can actually help in building stronger muscles with just your bodyweight, and without any machines or dumbbells. Since health experts say that strength training should be an integral part of your health and fitness routine, doing yoga for stronger muscles is an excellent goal.
Yoga poses move you through natural movement patterns, building strength in functional ways, rather than isolated muscular contractions that exist only in the gym. Challenging your body with time under tension in yoga poses is an excellent way to build stronger muscles.
If your goal is to do yoga for stronger muscles, then we recommend doing yoga around 2-3 times a week. You can also practice yoga before or after a workout to ensure that you don't injure any muscle during your regular gym sessions.
Doing Yoga to Increase Flexibility
One of the most common goals of doing yoga is to increase flexibility. We all have experienced tight muscles at some point, whether we struggle touching our toes, get shoulder/neck soreness from hunching over, or that feeling like you can’t walk after a tough workout.
We recommend practicing yoga anywhere between 3-6 times a week if your goal is to increase flexibility.
Yoga is one of the best techniques to help resolve issues with tight muscles and increasing flexibility. There are no shortcuts to increasing flexibility though, so when working on your flexibility with yoga, make sure to engage your muscles and breathe deep long breaths.
Doing Yoga to Reduce Stress
We’re all so overloaded with work and responsibilities, that we forget to take care of our mental health. Doing yoga to reduce stress is a fantastic complementary aspect to your wellness routine.
If you're looking to do yoga so that you can reduce stress, it's perfectly okay to practice yoga daily. We recommend pairing your yoga sessions with breathing work and meditation for maximum results.
Yoga’s unique ability to combine mental health techniques based on mindfulness, breathing, and presence, makes it a valuable tool to reduce stress.
Doing Yoga for Better Balance
Whether you are an athlete or elderly, or somewhere in between, doing yoga for better balance can be a big component in helping us become better versions of ourselves.
Athletes may want to improve balance to increase performance, while elderly want to prevent slips and falls, but the goal is still the same - better balance.
If you're doing yoga for better balance, then you can practice yoga seven times a week if most of the poses you do are focused on building balance.
Yoga poses such as Warrior 3 and Half Moon are performed on a single leg, which is great for balance and increased proprioception (your brain’s connection to the ground thru your foot) and balance
Things to Remember When Doing Yoga
No matter what your goals are when it comes to doing yoga, you still need to put the fundamentals first. Disregarding fundamentals can put your body at risk. Furthermore, you might not achieve the desired goals if you don't remember the important basics of yoga.
1. Put Your Body First
Putting your individual body first can help you avoid injuries first and foremost. Remember, it’s ok if you’re not as flexible as the teacher, or if your breathing is more rapid than the person next to you.
It’s not a contest, so listen to your body and only do what feels right. You can still push yourself outside your comfort zone to help attain your goals, but be respectful of your body’s limits.
2. Be Consistent With Your Sessions
Practice makes perfect, we’ve all heard it before. That phrase resonates because it’s true and holds value. If you want to become stronger or more flexible, doing yoga once every 2 months unfortunately will not get you the results you want.
Maintaining a routine that allows you to be consistent with your sessions can be a primary indicator of successfully reaching your yoga goals. Even if your schedule prohibits your ability to practice yoga as much as you’d like, consistency is key, whether that is every day or once per week.
3. Base Your Yoga Workouts on Your Goals
There are many different styles of yoga - Vinyasa, Hatha, Ashtanga, etc. Since you may be unfamiliar with what each of these styles entails, understanding your goals can help determine what kind of yoga workout suits your best.
For example, if your goal is to reduce stress, hatha yoga may be more suitable, as it’s normally a more gentle and soothing practice.
But if your goal is increasing flexibility, vinyasa yoga may be a better fit, as it’s a more dynamic practice that strings postures together seamlessly.
4. Keep Your Mentality in Consideration
While you might know that it’s good to exercise your body, research has shown that it can also be beneficial to exercise your mind.
Keeping your mentality in consideration by exploring your vulnerabilities and strengths on the mat can help you build resiliency and mental fortitude.
This will give you better awareness of your state of mind, state of breath, and state of physical body, thereby boosting your confidence. Furthermore, yoga as an exercise form directly impacts your mood and mentality by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol while increasing happy hormones like GABA, serotonin and dopamine.
At the most basic level, you should practice yoga 2-5 times a week to reap the benefits. However, this can vary based on your goals. How often you do yoga can be influenced by what you want out of your sessions.
Do you want to become stronger? Are you looking to improve flexibility? Or are you simply wanting to build your balance? All of these questions can influence how many times you take out your Yoga Strong Mat and practice every week.
We recommend figuring out your goals first and then developing a plan for the types of yoga poses that you'd like to do. That's the first step towards yoga success.