So you’ve decided to board the yoga train. Your friend, sister-in-law, colleague – whoever – has lured you aboard with her whole-hearted praises: I’m less stressed, my back feels amazing, I’ve lost 10 pounds, etc.
It’s true; practicing yoga has many proven benefits – both mental and physical. Before you embark, however, you should address a few starter questions. First, figure out exactly why you want to begin practicing yoga. Knowing this will help you decide how many times you should practice it each week.
Yoga, many centuries ago, was initiated as a practice for the mind. Although many people practice it today for physical benefits, mental prosperity is still very much a part of the deal. Some would even argue the physical perks are merely fringe benefits, as the ability to de-stress is the real prize.
If your sole interest is finding ease, practicing yoga just once a week may help you release some bad energy. If you can find time to do it two or three times a week, though, you will probably experience even greater repose.
You don’t want to further stress yourself out by trying to jam yoga into your schedule, however. If you can’t fit in or afford a ton of yoga sessions, try flowing, breathing exercises on your own time and in your own tranquil space.
Jennifer Aniston and other A-listers have announced yoga is a key ingredient in their ability to stay healthy and toned. Fortunately, these benefits aren’t limited to Hollywood. People all over the world are blasting calories and building muscle through yoga.
If shedding pounds is your main aim, you should plan to practice it for 45 minutes to an hour at least three times a week. This will allow you to burn calories, build strength and still have days to rest. If your weight loss goals are more extreme, incorporate two more hour-long sessions throughout the week.
While more yoga will result in more weight lost, you must always be aware of your body’s need to rest. Practicing every single day may be too much – especially if you’re just starting out your yoga career – and can lead to a yoga injury.
Many people take up yoga in order to ease pain or build strength after experiencing an injury or when suffering from chronic pain. Say, for example, you’ve hurt your back. The gentle, yet effective stretches as well as the breathing concentration of yoga can help to rebuild your health in ways a resting recovery cannot. Every body and pain is different, of course, and thus varying amounts of yoga are required for each. Before using yoga as a method of recuperation, you should always consult with you doctor.
Generally, if you’re trying to heal, practicing a gentler form of yoga, like Hatha, two to three times a week will prove beneficial. If you feel like yoga is helping, incorporating four or five sessions in a week may be better for you. You can also alternate days between yoga and some kind of aqua rehabilitation, which is a more conventional, therapeutic exercise. Try to avoid the more intense forms of yoga, like Bikram or Ashtanga, as they may just worsen your pain.
Now that you know how many times a week to hit the mat, you may want to figure out which form – or forms – of yoga will be best for you. Yoga can range from slow movements and deep breaths to exercises that are very intense, sweaty and aggressive. Find the mental and physical balance that works for you, and adjust your schedule by listening to your body.
Image by TonyFelgueiras