By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
“How often should I practice Yoga?” is one of those questions most frequently asked of Yoga instructors. Like other theories involving the practice, answers vary from “as often as possible” to “once or twice a week.” Not only do both sides of the debate have valid concerns, but every student has individual needs, as well. In the end, perhaps the best reply may be “whatever works for you.” However, it is always a good idea to consider all of the facts before making a decision – and Yoga is no exception.
At least one online source recommends that new students practice Yoga as much as five or six days for the first few weeks – unless there are health limitations. This theory operates on the assumption that intensive initiations to the practice will catapult the body toward greater changes in less time; but is that what Yoga really is? To some beginners, this sounds like the old “no pain, no gain” philosophy espoused in middle school gym class. After all, Yoga is supposed to be about patience and awareness – not a mad dash to the finish line.
On the other end of the spectrum, instructors lean toward the concept of Yoga as a personal practice. Every student has his own goals, his own needs, and his own budget. Besides, people practice Yoga for a variety of different reasons, ranging from spiritual to medical. Some people want to quiet their minds, and others want to be more agile. Yoga, after all, is a way of living that cannot be “pigeon holed” into a mandated time frame.
The most important point to remember, when starting a Yoga practice, is to actually follow through with the endeavor. Chances are – the person who tries to practice every day, will burn out before establishing a healthy routine – much like the old story of the tortoise and the hare. Establishing a new habit takes time and diligence, but that is what Yoga is all about, isn’t it?
Classes offer accountability and assurance that a wide variety of techniques are being performed correctly, but Yoga practice can take place anywhere. Although the general consensus seems to favor two or three days per week for beginners, it is also important to realize that even a little Yoga is better than no Yoga at all. Not being able to adhere to someone else’s ideal should never keep students from attempting Yoga and enjoying its benefits.
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