Yoga is a great workout that can lead to better health, mind, and body. But, how often should you practice yoga to see real results?
Yoga has been helping people stay fit and healthy for thousands of years. As experienced yogis will tell you, the practice delivers incredible results. But if you’re just starting out, you may be wondering how long you have to wait to see those results.
For noticeable results, aim for 2-3 yoga sessions per week minimum. The mental benefits will be apparent almost immediately. You’ll notice increased strength and flexibility after 8-10 weeks of a consistent practice.
The practice of yoga is rooted in a spiritual discipline that promotes a mind-body connection to achieve internal “well-being.” Traditional yogis strive to achieve a spiritual connection through fluid movement, meditation, and breathing exercises.
Each culture has adopted yoga in its own way. In the West, it has come to be associated with a health and fitness routine. Many people love the low-impact method of staying healthy.
A regular yoga practice can make you stronger and more flexible. It allows you to move better with less pain. It even reduces stress and can promote relaxation.
The first step to achieving these results is to know what results you want. Practicing yoga to build strength will look very different than practicing yoga to increase flexibility. Once you know your goals, choose the right type of yoga for you.
Types of Yoga
Yoga is constantly evolving and new styles emerge or evolve quite frequently. These are the seven most common styles of yoga found in Western cultures.
- Anusara: if your goal is energy boosting. Poses focus on a mind-body-spiritual connection. This is rigorous for the mind and body.
- Ashtanga: if your goal is fitness and weight loss. A set sequence is performed without deviation. For advanced yogis.
- Bikram: if your goal is calorie burn and weight loss. A set sequence is performed in a hot, humid room for deeper expression of poses.
- Hatha: if your goal is flexibility. Slowly flow through and learn poses. Great for beginners.
- Iyengar: if your goal is to build strength. Poses are held longer with perfect form. Great for older adults or those with injuries.
- Restorative: if your goal is relaxation and reduced stress. The body is supported in gentle poses with props.
- Vinyasa: if your goal is better movement. Transition between poses with fluid motions synced to the breath. Great for beginners.
Find these types of classes at your local yoga studio or search Youtube for videos you can follow at home. Don’t be afraid to try multiple styles until you find one you enjoy.
As yoga grows in popularity, it has become more accessible than ever. Most studios offer classes every day and there are no shortages of videos online to follow. You could theoretically practice yoga every day of the week. But should you?
How many times a week should I practice yoga to see results?
Experts recommend 150 minutes of physical activity each week. That breaks down to about 30 minutes, 5 times per week. This is a good starting point when deciding how often you should be practicing yoga.
Your weekly yoga schedule should take into account your goals, the type of yoga you are doing, and your fitness level. Aim for at least 2-3 sessions per week. As the intensity of yoga increases, your weekly frequency should decrease.
For example, if you are practicing an intense style of yoga, like Ashtanga or Bikram, 3-4 times per week is plenty. Your body needs time in between sessions to rest and recover.
If you are practicing something gentler, like Hatha or Restorative yoga, feel free to practice 5-6 times per week.
Combine these recommendations to make your practice your own. You may do Bikram yoga three times per week and restorative yoga on the other four days.
Follow similar guidelines for your fitness level. As a beginner, start small. Increase your weekly sessions as you advance in your practice.
Of course, these recommendations should also consider your goals.
How often should I do yoga to strengthen and tone?
In order to get stronger, you need to tax your muscles. Resistance training, like weight lifting or yoga, breaks down the muscles, which are then rebuilt stronger during your rest time.
If your goal is to get stronger and toned, it’s important to give your muscles this recovery time. Practice yoga 3-4 times per week with at least a day in between for your muscles to rebuild.
How often should I do yoga to reduce stress?
Styles like Restorative yoga are great to reduce stress and calm the mind. If this is your goal, more is better. Aim for a session every day to relax and boost your mental wellbeing.
Incorporate these sessions before bed to help you wind down. Or start your day with them to help you wake up with positivity. Consistency is key to see these results.
How often should I do yoga to be more flexible?
Flexibility is a journey; it takes consistent effort to get your body looser and more fluid. Similar to strengthening, your body will need time to recover from intense stretching. Practice yoga 4-5 times per week to boost flexibility.
Be sure that you are not pushing your body past it’s limits. You cannot over-stretch your way to faster flexibility. Even if you do not feel sore, incorporate rest days to avoid injury.
Keep in mind that yoga is about connecting to your body so let that be your guide. Each day you will feel different so adjust your practice and your schedule to what you need.
Is 20 minutes a day enough yoga to see results?
Some days, you’ll notice that you feel extra motivated. You can’t wait to roll out your mat in the morning or get to your evening class. Once you start practicing, the minutes fly by and before you know it, you’ve done an hour-long session.
Other days, no matter how good your intentions are, you can’t seem to find the time. Tasks pop up and your yoga time goes from an hour to only 20 minutes. Is a 20-minute session even worth it? You bet it is.
There’s no denying that the more time you can devote to yoga, the better. However, the real key is consistency.
If you can practice yoga for 20 minutes a day, three times per week, that will produce better results than putting in an hour once a week.
A regular practice allows your body to adapt to the challenges it faces in exercise. It is in these adaptations that you see results. Your muscles will become stronger and more defined. Your mind will become calmer. Your body will move better.
Consistency also helps us form habits. The more you do yoga, the more it becomes a part of your life. We become comfortable with the practice, advance our skills, and reap the rewards.
Even 20 minutes a day keeps you moving towards the results you want to see.
How long does it take to see results?
Ask any yoga instructor and they’ll tell you, yoga is about the journey, not the destination. While that’s true, it’s natural to want to see results from your hard work!
As with any fitness journey, nothing happens overnight. Depending on your goals and your starting fitness level, some results will come quicker than others.
The first results you’re likely to see will be mental. After your first session, you may feel relaxed. After four or five sessions, you may feel less stressed throughout the day. After a few weeks of yoga or meditation, you’ll feel more connected to your body and mentally present.
Notice and appreciate these benefits to keep you motivated towards your physical goals.
If your goal is to get stronger, that will take a bit longer. Your practice should start feeling easier within a few weeks. This means your body is adapting to work more efficiently.
The real strength and muscle gains will take around eight weeks. This is when you should notice changes in muscle size, strength, and endurance. You should be able to achieve more challenging poses and hold poses for longer.
Practicing yoga for weight loss results is harder to predict. The time it takes to see these results will be heavily dependent on the style of yoga you do and your fitness level.
The CDC recommends aiming for weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. This is a healthy rate that leads to long term success. You could potentially start seeing this result the first week you do yoga. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t, though. Some bodies can take a few weeks to adapt to new physical activity.
Keep in mind that everyone responds to yoga differently. Results may come faster or slower for you based on your unique body composition. Be patient, stay consistent, and trust the process.
No matter what your goals are, yoga is a great way to get there. A regular yoga practice can supplement your existing exercise routine or start you on the path to one.
Even if you’ve never set foot on a mat before, there is a class or flow for you. Set your goals and let yoga help you achieve them.