Many of my prospective students or persons that just started with yoga practice ask me “How much yoga practice must I do to benefit?” First thing to know is that it is not a matter of none, or a ton of yoga practice. A lot of yoga will do you a lot of good, a little will too. Any bit of good thing is better than none – be it exercise, healthy food, or yoga.
And of course the quantity of yoga you decide to practice depends on what you would like to achieve with your yoga practice:
To become very supple you will have to stretch daily, even if only for a few minutes a day.
For yoga for weight-loss you would have to practice yoga energetically 3 – 6 times per week.
To gradually loosen and get the hang of the breathing techniques and develop good posture you can get away with 1 – 2 sessions per week.
For enlightenment you need to practice several lifetimes (only half kidding).
Quality is important too: not the type of yoga, or the cost of the session, esteem of the teacher, the quality and effort that you put into the right practice principles. Everyone knows that one can dawdle for hours and achieve little, or focus for a short period and achieve much.
Should even 1 class per week seem ambitious, remember that, once you have learned and understood the value of yoga as a system, you will be able to utilize the techniques and understanding thereof anywhere, anytime. Always remember that a little yoga always goes a long way. 1 X breath will make a difference to your life, and that will take under a minute. 1 X good stretch will also take only a minute. Combine breath and stretch – a base principle of yoga – and you will make a considerable difference to your well-being with a minute a day, or a minute a week, of practice. Here is a link to my Yoga Home Practice Routine – free pdf download from my book Five Keys to Well-being.
Real class practice, will, of course require greater commitment. Two times a week is great; faster progress comes if you increase your practice to 3 times a week. Once a week is way better than none. The bottom line is always that some yoga – whatever amount you’re able to do – is preferable over no yoga. Any amount, any level of practice, will benefit you. You are also likely to forever remain under the positive influence of what you learn from yoga – unlike fitness, that leaves one within weeks of not practicing, the life lessons of yoga tend to stay with its practitioners. This is useful to know, as there tend to be times when one has more resources to do more yoga, and periods when you may do little, or no yoga.
A philosophy I always adhere to is built into every class I teach – I trust that each class contains a lesson, large or small, that will remain with a student, for life. I know that a technique, insight or inspiration from even one yoga class can make a big difference in any persons life. A little yoga always goes a long way.
The lifestyle principles, or life skills taught in yoga, are essential to understand and achieve holistic health. The true practice of yoga happens off the mat. After all we attend school or college to learn a skill, and then we go out into life to practice these skills. While we go to yoga class to learn the techniques it offers the real progress is made when we can implement these lessons in real life situations.
A big hint for busy people is mindfulness and practice at every opportunity. Mindfulness is a state of being, and stretching while waiting for the kettle to boil, or looking for the maximum or most comfortable position in a pose on the mat is practice of technique. And there is always on aspect present in the other. Which is why yoga does not differentiate between body and mind, it has only one word for both: bodymind.
When we practice yoga 24/7 can we call ourselves yoga masters? So how long does it take to become a yoga master? The answer then has to be that it takes as long as it takes 🙂
August the 13, 2013.