(It may not look it, but I am really practicing hard and still struggling with Ekapada Sirsasana but it’s getting there after weeks of on and off but still consistent practice! As Jois says: Practice, and all is coming <3)
Whether if Monday is the start of your new week or Sunday, I want to share with you all my excitement for another fresh new week and say “Happy Monday everyone!”. However, if you have a goal in mind and want to start a new habit (such as practicing yoga), Mondays aren’t any more special than any other days of the week. Today’s blog post was inspired by my student who asked me a question I never thought of writing about but really should’ve! “How often should I practice yoga a week?” A commonly asked question and certainly a very important one when choosing to kick start your yoga journey. The decision to how often you practice is certainly a very personalized decision that is influenced by many aspects of our lives. So, here I will share with you some of my tips and advise. Take what works for you and I hope you find it helpful!
So before we start, I would like you to ask yourself why do you want to practice yoga and remember that. You can even write it down and frame it in your bedroom wall, stick it on a bathroom mirror so you can see it every morning when you’re brushing your teeth to keep you motivated, or set an alarm and title it “Time for yoga!” (That’s what I would do especially when I’m anticipating for a busy week ahead!). There is no doubt that the more often you do something, the better you will be at it. Dedication is an important element to stay motivated especially if you have a goal in mind and discipline is required. If you want to start practicing yoga consistently on a daily basis, the best tip I can give is to start right now and not mañana (tomorrow in Spanish) because there is absolutely no reason to wait for the next Monday to come around in order to start doing yoga (or anything in life really!). Just imagine if you wanted to have some ice cream right at this moment, would you wait until tomorrow to get it? You probably wouldn’t even think twice. Bottom line is, just do it. Your motivation will be the highest during this time period and you will have less excuses to change your mind or become distracted later on.
So, how often each week?
Well, there really isn’t a hard and fast rule. If you feel like doing one day only, then do one. If you feel that isn’t enough for you and you want to do two, then do two days. Then three… four… five… Perhaps later you realized four days each week is too much for you so you decided to cut it down to three. That’s totally fine too! Another approach is to start with more frequent days but in shorter intervals of fifteen minutes each time, to thirty minutes, then one hour, etc. Traditionally in Ashtanga yoga we practice six days a week and rest on moon days but I didn’t start doing yoga six days a week in the beginning of my yoga journey at all until in the recent months… I gradually worked my way to that. So do whatever that works for your current lifestyle and celebrate all the efforts and shifts you make each time you practice on your yoga mat!
In the beginning, it doesn’t matter how many day you practice but enough times to get the ball rolling. Somehow, we always have the tendency to get obsessed about numbers… the weight on the scale, the size of our pants, how many calories we are eating, did we hit our protein intake, why I can’t do math… Even for some more “advanced” yogis, some become so tied up with how many days they must practice yoga each week and become frustrated or disappointed with themselves because it feels like they just took two steps backward from where they were the last time they stepped onto their yoga mat. The whole point is, the number isn’t important and we shouldn’t become attached to it. It is more important to be consistent every week (ideally at the same time of day each time) even if you’ve only got ten minutes, squeeze that yoga time in! For example, I used to do every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings soon after I wake up and possibly another day during the weekend if I’m up for it. And before you know it I was in bed by 10 PM every evening and waking up to practice yoga every morning, 6 AM sharp! And if I really wasn’t able to get my practice in that day, I will squeeze in somewhere in my day even if its just for ten minutes (doing yoga while waiting for the bus station, waiting in between classes at college… you get the picture) or just close my eyes and focus on deep and even breathing during my daily commutes. Remember, as long as we are breathing, we are doing yoga! The consistency of my yoga practice really helped me feel grounded in my mind and body, as well as give structure and stability to my ever fluctuating and busy lifestyle.
Now, perhaps the above answer isn’t tangible enough for you because you like numbers. Then in that case I recommend starting with three days a week which will really help get your body familiar with the yoga postures that is new to you. So that more focus on breathing can be placed in your practice for a more meditative and healing effect, build internal heat in the body and build strength in the body and mind. When breathing becomes even and steady then a balance between effort and ease in a posture can be established.
I also recommend learning from a certified yoga instructor that you resonate with and feel connected to. For years, I learned yoga off of YouTube and YouTube is great, in fact I still use it. However, there is only so much you can learn because like I said before yoga is a very personalized practice. And from my experience, I have learned so much detailed cues and tips from my teachers whether if its just on my breathing in a posture, a slight adjustment on a healthy alignment, or when dealing with injuries. Oh, and not to mention the energy I get from the students and the environment I practice at is an amazing experience too.
So, do you want to start practicing yoga more consistently? Start now and don’t stop! It will get easier and before you know it, your new habit will feel natural. I promise! Have patience and challenge yourself to maintain it for at least 12 weeks. It will be worth it and you will be proud of yourself. Eventually, over time the amount of times you practice a week will be something your body will decide for you. Yoga will grow with you so just let your creepy crawly thoughts and numbers go away and allow it to guide you into the path of your transformative yoga journey! OM.
Christine Fei- blogger of Feibulous
P.S. Special thanks to my students for continuing to inspire me with their questions and for every effort that they put on their yoga mat!