"How often should I practice yoga?" is a question I receive a lot from new beginners as well as students striving toward a goal.
I would love to help you to answer this for yourself if you've had the question. Often times, we experience impatience or hope to see results quickly with any new venture. Many want to lose weight, improve strength, flexibility or balance. But besides the physical benefits, there's also a lot of work and needs to happen within the emotional and energetic bodies. Which comes first?
The physical v.s. emotional "results" of yoga are often akin to 'the chicken or the egg' dilemma. But for most people in our culture, the physical results will come first. When yoga was brought to the West from Eastern cultures, physical postures (or asanas) were the main thrust. Knowing that the Western mind and lifestyle was hurried, Eastern yogis knew that we would need to tap into the physical body FIRST in order to be able to access and control the mind. There are many other types of yoga, but feeling the physical relief, comfort or strength is usually also what keeps you coming back for more.
Physically, as you begin to balance the asymmetries within your body and find your way toward practices and postures that support your body's needs, you will also begin to understand patterns within your life that effect your body, positively or negatively. You may begin pulling your yoga tools into your daily life so that you stand, sit or walk more mindfully.
When you develop an awareness (mentally) that ALL movement is practice (physically), your mental and physical results will both occur much quicker.
There is a saying that, "If you practice yoga once a week, you will change your mind. Practice yoga twice a week and you will change your body. Practice yoga every day and you will change your life." But it comes down to how you define "yoga practice." When you're living and breathing yoga philosophy and mindfulness, daily practice (abyhasa) happens much more naturally and doesn't always occur on a yoga mat.
For some, physical asana practice might only be once a week, but in conjunction with other modalities, it is enough. Sometimes or for certain seasons, 10 minutes of meditation is more valuable than 2 hours of asana practice. For others, such as yoga teachers and sharers, mini-practices might need to happen multiple times per day in order to stay grounded and connected to oneself. Some of the greatest modern yogis, meditation practitioners and philosophers of our time have never set foot on a yoga mat.
The entire question of 'how often should I practice yoga' has so many moving parts. The answer differs for everyone. What is your intention for the practice? What is your mind and body telling you lately? What sorts of messages are you currently receiving via your health and wellness? No one can answer these questions for you.
Lastly, in an effort to help you to answer this question honestly for yourself, please remove the word "should" from the question. I believe that we all have enough soul-sucking "shoulds" in our lives and lurking on our 'to-do' lists. Let's keep yoga in the 'I would love to' category.
If you're looking for a concrete way to launch or inspire your home yoga practice, I would LOVE to help support you on that process. Please consider my 30 day online program: The Practice Project. I have compiled yoga tools for every learning style so that you can feel your way through the best types of practice that will work for your life. The Practice Project is as versatile as possible so that you can learn how to weave these teachings throughout every fiber of your being.
If you already have a daily practice (abhyasa), but are looking for some sense of purpose or direction, read more about how to create your own sadhana journey to manifest huge changes in your life. There, you will also find a link to connect to my online Facebook sadhana community, Sadhana Sangha.
Thanks for reading!