Can you get in shape by just doing yoga? How often should you do it to see the desired results?
Here are some experts’ insights worth considering:
Teacher & Founder, The Yoga House
Yoga would be categorized in your fitness profile (if you were undergoing a fitness test) as flexibility. The other five components of fitness include agility, power, aerobic capacity, and balance. Yet, yoga also improves balance and agility.
When you do tree pose (stand on one leg) the flexibility improvement lengthens your muscles and soft tissue (tendons, ligaments, fascia) which means you can move quickly with greater ease.
Imagine slipping on a banana peel or your child’s sock they left on the floor. You will find you can catch your balance by quickly (with your agile hip and ankle) stepping your opposite foot down. As an added bonus, you may be calmer and not feel angry at your child (or the banana!).
Flexibility decreases within twenty-four hours after you do a stretch. Now, that’s lousy news, yet, the increased range of motion (ROM) that you gain from yoga in your joints–hips, spinal column, shoulder girdle, knees–will carry on after the twenty-four hour period. You will still be more agile. So technically, you need to do yoga every day to maintain the benefits.
Do yoga every day
I recommend doing yoga, every day not only to maintain your flexibility, but the increased circulation and movement of your muscles will allow you to feel more energy as ATP-CP (Adenosine Triphosphate-Creatine Phosphate) energy system will be more activated.
ATP, if you remember some biology from high school, is the energy system that kick starts your muscles. By practicing yoga you keep alive the activation of this system, and that means it is easier to boot this vital energy system up!
The other fabulous news about doing yoga every day, that I hear from my students, is the more you practice yoga, the more yoga does you!
I can honestly report that practicing yoga becomes addictive. For example, last night I woke in the middle of the night, at the expected time (3 am.–are you with me?) to a sore throat and it was keeping me awake. I intuitively bent my head back into fish pose lying on my back and took deep breaths–doesn’t everybody? (called ujaya breaths).
The sore throat softened and I fell back asleep. So, the great news about practicing yoga daily is you begin to use it as the antidote to stress and symptoms that it is.
Remember, yoga is a healing science. If you practice daily, you learn more each day about your body, and the daily habit will build the stamina to continue to practice daily.
Vinyasa Yoga Teacher
It’s not about how often you do yoga but how you do it
You can do yoga 7 days a week but if you are not using the right techniques you probably won’t see results. You need to understand some basic principles in order for yoga to be an effective practice for both the mind and body.
Engage your hands and feet
You should try to push the mat away with your hands and your feet, almost as if you are resisting the force of gravity. Only then will your muscles engage and actually be put to work.
Understand the crucial rule of alignment which is to always have the joints in a straight line
For example, if you are in a standing posture such as a warrior you need to make sure your knee doesn’t go further forward than your ankle. If you follow this principle you won’t injure yourself and will be able to take your practice further quicker.
Don’t push yourself too far too soon
Yes, you may have seen pictures of what you think certain poses ‘should’ look like but always take things slow. Gradual progression is where you will see results sooner. If you push yourself too far too soon you will injure yourself and push past a point of no return!
If you follow these principles and practice 2-3 times a week, you will see a rapid improvement in strength and flexibility as well as your posture and ability to be more present in your life.
Certified Yoga Instructor | Ayurveda Expert | Wellness Coach
Thrice a week
If you’re thinking about engaging in a yoga practice that brings tangible results (better flexibility, more physical strength and an overall, more peaceful mental atmosphere), you should practice at a minimum of 3x per week. But it’s about so much more than just how often you practice — it’s about what types of practices you do.
If you’re looking to build more strength, you might get some results in a gentle yoga class, but my guess is it won’t be the kind of results you were hoping for. Conversely, if you’re looking to create a more peaceful mental atmosphere, then you need to find a class where that’s the focus.
So, first and foremost, figure out what kind of results you’re looking to achieve, then choose a yoga class that’s geared towards your specific needs and plan to practice at least 3 times per week.
If you want all the benefits, then my recommendation would be taking a variety of classes and going a minimum of 6x a week, mixing, dedicating 2 days to your focus of flexibility, 2 days to your focus of building strength, and 2 days to your focus of creating a calmer mental atmosphere.
Registered Yoga Teacher | Mindfulness Coach
I believe practicing yoga is a mindset shift that can be supported by easy mindful habits. I love to say that people come to get a fit body and stay for the total life transformation that yoga brings.
Yoga will improve your functional physical fitness if you practice a physical form at least once a week
Your body will become stronger and more flexible and most of all, you will learn how to use it efficiently. Say goodbye to back or neck pain due to poor posture!
Yoga is so much more than that and has so many benefits because it builds mindfulness. It is a total and absolute mindset shift, and, good news! You don’t need to spend hours at the studio for this to happen.
Chose consistently to apply what you learned in yoga off-the-mat starting with breathing exercises, meditations, and seating postures. Do them when you need them or commit to doing them every day, even if it’s just for 5 minutes.
What you practice, you become.
L. Farrah Furtado
Yoga Instructor and Director, Bend it like Buddha Yoga
Practicing yoga is beneficial at least daily for 60 minutes a day and one can see results as soon as a couple of weeks
Yoga and breathing techniques are linked with balancing the pranas that further results in a healthy mind and body. The different types of Pranayama and Yoga have a wide range of benefits associated with them.
The benefits include improving the circulation of blood, concentration, relieving depression, stress, anxiety, and hypertension. Besides neurological problems, Pranayama further helps in curing headaches, asthma, migraine, and gastric problems.
The longevity of life depends on breathing rate and length. That is, lowering of breathing rate is likely to increase life expectancy. Pranayama, on the whole, is associated with better functioning of the autonomic system.
By practicing Pranayama and Yoga, toxins are removed from the body and organs get more oxygen. Various diseases, in this way, are prevented that further results in strengthening the immune system.
If you do not have time for 60 minutes of yoga a day, try starting with 5 minutes of simple stretches of cat and cow and synchronize your breath to the movements.
Or try setting your device for 5 minutes and just close your eyes and observe your breathing and allow your muscles to relax while seated in a comfortable position on the floor. Then build up the time each time you practice.
The more you practice yoga (physical postures) and breathing techniques such as pranayama, the more benefits you will receive.
Andrea Trank, e-RYT
Yoga Teacher, Heaven Lane Creations
Yoga is a prescription for health that has a cumulative effect. In other words, the longer you do yoga, the more benefits you will receive.
However, that does not mean you should do yoga seven days a week necessarily. The problem is that if you do any practice repeatedly, you are at risk for developing injuries. Yoga is not immune to those basic facts.
Practice yoga variations regularly
Let’s say for instance, on Monday, you do a flow, on Tuesday, you do Yin Yoga (which are long-held stretches that work on the Fascial level), on Wednesday, maybe a power yoga class or Ashtanga, Thursday, yoga that is gentle with a focus on breathing and meditation and then Friday back to flow, you will experience benefits within a few months.
Those benefits are likely to be more than physical. You will notice your breathing is deeper, your thoughts are clearer, you feel calmer and your body has fewer aches and pains. As far as physical appearance, yoga will sculpt your body.
Yoga Teacher | Studio Owner, Firefly Yoga
“When will I see results” is a question I often get as a yoga teacher. If someone has really enjoyed their first session they often want to reap the rewards of the hard work ASAP.
I tell people to give it a month if they do yoga once a week
You probably won’t notice a difference before then. If you come more often to a class 4-5 times a week then you may see results sooner but a month is still a great time to wait and judge.
I also like to remind people, however, that other forms of exercise, particularly running and cycling work as opposites to yoga. Running and cycling, shorten and tighten big muscles like the hamstrings. Therefore, avid sportspeople in these fields may need a little more time to see their progress.
Writer | Yoga Teacher | Founder, A Force of Nurture
Personally, I don’t believe yoga should be about results
We live in a world that’s hyper-focused on the hustle and achievement. While success is indeed important, the optimal version of success is achieved through genuine alignment.
Yoga is a beautiful practice that helps you align and get centered to live more mindfully. For instance, yoga is not about any single pose or about getting to the end of a class.
Yoga is about the whole sequence, how the poses connect, and how the whole practice feels in the body. The same goes for life. If you’re only worried about results, you’re missing all the beauty that happens in the process and in the journey.
Owner & Creator, Alternative Yoga Vibe | Certified Holistic Nutritionist
To achieve stress release and relaxation it might take one or two classes or it may take a few weeks of consistent practice. Reducing stress can be easy from some however many people have a hard time leaving the stress at the door. It takes time to train the mind and body to let go.
- It might take one or two sessions or a few weeks, with two to four sessions a week if relaxation and reduced stress are the desired result.
- Taking at least two to three hour-long classes a week for a couple of months can bring noticeable changes if building strength and flexibility is the goal, taking flow yoga and inversion classes will bring about more strength, mobility, and flexibility.