There are many instances in life where we might think that more is better. Well, we find that is not the case with most things. Everything is better in moderation.
I think that I can say with confidence that yoga is an exception. More IS actually better. The amount of yoga you do should be based on your needs, your body, and how it feels. One yoga student recently said that 2 classes felt good but that 3 felt even better to her body. So, the question becomes – what is right for your body? What I can say with absolute certainty is that one day a week is not enough for anyone.
I have slight scoliosis in my spine. I say slight. But I don’t know how slight it really is. From my earliest memories of going to school, I have always had to have my pants hemmed at different lengths (an inch different – is that slight – I don’t know) because one hip is hiked up higher than the other. As I started to get older, the years of my body being torqued in a way it was not meant to be torqued started to take its toll. Somewhere in that period of getting older…….I found yoga. After several years of practice I realized that there was a possibility that without yoga, someday, I may not be able to get out of bed in the morning. So, with the exception of a few periods of time in my life, I have managed to have a regular yoga practice. For me, I have always set a minimum goal of 3 days a week – with the promise to myself to do 5. I have found that the more I do, the better I feel.
So, what is the right number for you? Listen to your body. But what I can assure you is that once a week is not enough. It’s not enough to see any kind of change, much less a lasting change. Twice a week is probably not enough either, if we want to be honest.
“In 2010, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Nursing published a comparative analysis of 81 studies that examined yoga’s health benefits and the health benefits of aerobic exercise. The researchers found yoga to be especially effective at reducing stress. This may not be news to those who practice yoga, but even die-hard enthusiasts will be surprised at the number of other health benefits yoga can confer—often to a larger degree than aerobic exercise. The researchers found that yoga outperformed aerobic exercise at improving balance, flexibility, strength, pain levels among seniors, menopausal symptoms, daily energy level, and social and occupation functioning, among other health parameters.” (You can read the entire study here: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/983258/)
The research also concluded that you don’t have to practice for years to see results. It seemed that it was the frequency of practice that predicted health outcomes. The study talked about a home practice. And I will admit that my home practice was always important to me – just as important as going to class. But for some, it is just not feasible to establish a regular home practice – either we don’t have a dedicated space, we can’t find a time that we are uninterrupted, or we lack the motivation to get dressed and walk into the next room to do yoga. For some, the act of getting ready and leaving the house is part of the ritual. For others, doing yoga in a social setting provides motivation.
Over the next few weeks, we are going to explore the idea that more yoga is better and try to help you find the amount of yoga that is right for you. We will also look at the reasons you are doing yoga – what you want out of your practice, and how to make yoga a regular part of your day.
So, as the weather starts to turn nice, don’t forego yoga for other things. I’m not telling you not to take that bike ride. You will most certainly see me out on my bike this summer – and maybe even my skateboard……But I won’t skip yoga class. Because I want to make sure that I will be able to be able to get out of bed so that I can keep getting on that bike.
(Infographic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post)