As a yoga teacher, I get a lot of questions about how much yoga I recommend. The question might be posed as “How many times a week should I take a class?” or “If I practice 3 times a week, how long will it take for me to see results?” or “The length of classes vary from 50 minutes to 90 minutes, what is the best class length?”. As I tend to answer many questions that may require a more personalized response, I typically say “It depends.” Yoga is not a one-size-fits-all exercise program designed just for the physical body. It is a broader practice that has benefits to the brain/mind, body, and energy we experience and can be crafted to address various unique outcomes depending upon our perceived human limitations. And, if we consider ourselves human, we all have some limitation, whether we are open to acknowledging it or not!
There are yoga practices designed to strengthen the body and others that focus on increasing the flexibility in the body. Certain yoga practices have the goal of mood management. Classes can be designed for people challenged with physical conditions, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis. Some classes may not include any movement or very little movement, focusing more on the breath and mind. Each of us has unique needs and that is why I recommend yoga to everyone, because there is a class and teacher out there that is offering what you need. It just might take a trial and error approach to finding a good match.
Now, as far as the frequency of the practice, again it will depend upon a person’s intention for integrating yoga into their life. My intention in my teaching of yoga is to offer a class where first-timers leave the class feeling as though the practice is attainable and not feeling intimidated by the poses, keeping the door open to further exploration of all that yoga has to offer. So my first recommendation as far as frequency is simply to take a class once to determine if it is a good fit. From there, you might try another class once and another and another, until you become aware of a shift, whether it is in your body, mind, or energy. My experience of teaching has told me this can occur with just one class!
From that point, I offer that your view of yoga will expand as you continue on the journey of exploration through the practice. I might suggest that you consider beginning to integrate some of your favorite practices into your daily routine at home, whether first thing in the morning upon awakening or as the last thing before bed, to improve your sleep. Over time, what will begin to emerge is a growing sense of acceptance and compassion for yourself and others, supporting the connection between all of your parts that make up your authentic and highest self.
So, my response to the original question might just become a question in return: “How quickly do you want to experience a shift in consciousness, that aligns you with your truth?”. There is no prescription for change, as change happens whether we want it or are ready for it or not. We do have a choice though to work with our circle of influence around change and yoga can be our ‘go to’ support as we ride the waves of change. We just need to be ready and open to the change we desire and then yoga will simply become a way of life, instead of specific practices we make time for in our lives.
If you might be skeptical that just one yoga class can make such a difference, click on the link below to read the recent research on the effects of one yoga session for service recipients in a behavioral health intensive outpatient program: