Yoga, undoubtedly, is one of the most popular and widely practiced forms of exercise and meditation in today’s fast-paced society. Originating in ancient India, the world has embraced this highly-effective method of keeping your body and mind in a complete state of harmony and fitness.
From developing a better body image to becoming a mindful eater, weight loss and maintenance, reducing stress and increasing stress resilience, battling symptoms of anxiety and depression, regulating your nervous system, fitness enhancement, healthy heart benefits and a lot more, yoga can bring a spectacular change in your life.
However, you can only reap these benefits if you practice the poses or asanas properly. From creating the right body shapes to holding poses for the right amount of time, it is crucial that you get it right, every single time.
How long should you hold yoga poses?
The right amount of time you spend holding a yoga pose would depend on what you are trying to achieve from it. While a lengthy yoga pose can build body resilience, endurance and resolve, quick movement from pose to pose can develop a great tempo.
So, as we say, it is all subjective. Shorter, faster yoga poses develop warmth in your body, regulate your heart rate, lubricate your joints, increase blood flow and nurture a sense of bodily rhythm. Long yoga poses, on the other hand, will help you build strength and stamina, align your body, stabilizes your body and mind and connect with your inner self better.
As a seasoned yoga teacher, one of the most common questions I get from my students is, ‘How long should you hold a pose?’ This depends on several factors:
Practitioner’s experience level
Style of yoga
Specific benefits one hopes to achieve
Firstly, it is essential to remember that yoga is a journey, not a destination. Every practitioner’s body is unique, therefore the length of time that they can comfortably hold a pose will vary. Beginners may find it challenging to hold poses for an extended period of time, whereas intermediate and advanced practitioners may be able to hold poses for longer periods without discomfort.
Let’s look at the benefits of holding a pose for a certain length of time. Holding a pose for an extended period can help build strength, flexibility and balance. On top of that, holding poses for a longer duration can help increase focus and mindfulness.
The length of time that a practitioner should hold a pose will also vary based on the style of yoga they are practicing:
Vinyasa Yoga The word vinyasa comes from Sanskrit, roughly meaning to place in a particular manner. Also known as flow yoga, this style of yoga typically involves flowing through poses quickly and smoothly, with minimal emphasis on holding the poses for an extended period of time. Typically, each pose is held for not more than 5 breaths. It also follows the chronology of inhaling when you get into a pose and exhaling as you transpose into another. The nature of this form enables individuals to develop a balanced body and prevent incurring injuries from repetitive motion.
The underlying philosophy of vinyasa yoga is the temporary nature of things and the fact that we enter an action, only to move on to doing something else. It is also based on the parameters of steadiness, comfort, and smoothness. The deep breathing during these yoga practices indicates bringing consciousness to every single movement of our bodies.
Power Yoga is a more dynamic and challenging style of yoga, which typically requires poses to be held for either a few breaths or up to 30 seconds. This style of yoga is designed to build strength and stamina and sometimes incorporates more challenging poses such as balancing poses and inversions.
Power yoga is not considered an official yoga form, but rather a form of Vinyasa yoga with its roots in Ashtanga yoga. As the name denotes, Power yoga is a series of powerful poses following in a sequence, regulated by breathing. The sequence of poses in a proper flow or movements is the main characteristic of this yoga form. Power yoga provides several benefits including better heart health, strengthening your physical self, motor and bodily movement control, weight loss, stress control, etc.
Hatha Yoga emphasizes longer periods of holding the poses, with the focus being on the breath and correct alignment. Hatha yoga is often considered as the practice of balancing the Sun and the Moon as the word itself indicates with ‘ha’ meaning sun and ‘tha’ meaning moon. Combined, the overall objective of Hatha yoga is to develop a sense of harmony between your mind, body and soul. It is the best yoga form to achieve deeper consciousness and spiritual awakening. It has deep-rooted therapeutic effects on both your body and mind, giving you a sense of calmness in every aspect of your life.
Yin Yoga is a passive practice which requires the practitioner to hold the poses for much longer periods of time, sometimes with the aid of props – ranging from two to five minutes, or even ten minutes per pose. Yin Yoga is designed to target the connective tissues of the body, namely the ligaments, joints and fascia, and induce a deep sense of relaxation and peace in the practitioner. Among some yoga poses to hold for a long time in this practice include Balasana (Child’s Pose), and Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose).
How long to hold a yoga pose, based on category of pose & practitioner level:
|Standing Poses||5 – 10 seconds||10 – 30 seconds|
|Seated, Twist & Backward Bend Poses||10 – 30 seconds||30 – 60 seconds|
|Inversions||30 – 60 seconds||60 – 90 seconds|
In conclusion, how long to hold yoga poses will vary based on the individual’s experience level, the style of yoga being practiced, and the specific benefits you are hoping to achieve. Remember to always listen to your body, practice mindfulness and accordingly gradually increase the length of time that you hold the pose over time so that you can enjoy the many benefits that yoga has to offer.
It is important to listen to your body to avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits, which can lead to injuries. For many, the amount of time spent on a particular pose starts their journey of self-awareness and the truest foundation of yoga as a practice. Yoga is all about your mind and your body. Do what feels right and you will never go wrong with it.
For those who are new to yoga and seeking to enhance their knowledge, we invite you to explore our 200-hour yoga teacher training program in Bali.