So How Can I Fit Yoga Into My Life?

Over the years of teaching Yoga I have found that one fundamental dilemma students for whom yoga resonates deeply have is how to fit such a satisfying and important self-care practice in a busy life. Many begin by enjoying the once or twice a week class experience, and then integrate the basic tools of stress relief and the other hints and habits of self-care within the fabric of their day This is perfectly satisfying and helpful to them, life changing in both the short and long term. However for those who who are called to expand on this even a bit while living in the “real world”  things can be tricky.

In terms of the basic question of what additional Yoga practices you can do Yogis will always reiterate that the most important and best Yoga practice one can do is the one that you will do. It does no good to set up ambitious intentions that are unrealistic, though there will some stretch literally and figuratively to wedge time for any independent home practice to compliment your Yoga class experience.

For years I have suggested to the students I work with that doing less ambitious(shorter) practice more often is usually a better way to sustain and integrate the benefits most consistently. Still, there is a tradeoff to that and experimenting with your own approach will always relate to you goals in Yoga and the realities of your life. Below are some more specific thoughts and information about how different approaches can impact you and your life.

Practicing yoga is similar to most forms of exercise in that both shorter and longer durations can still be beneficial. Whether you intertwine your yoga and meditation time for a short 20 minute session, or you go for an extended workout longer than an hour, both can do wonders for your flexibility, muscle strength and a bevy of other health benefits. To better show the specific benefits of short and long duration yoga sessions, here is some helpful information about both.

Short Duration Yoga Sessions (less than 60 minutes)

The benefits of yoga sessions lasting less than an hour mirror those of longer sessions in many ways. They can drastically improve flexibility and joint mobility if made a regular part of someone’s weekly exercise routine. Also, studies have shown that various forms of yoga can improve muscle strength, endurance and balance, even when practiced in durations under an hour. More specifically, a study funded by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and performed at the University of Wisconsin, found that a group practicing yoga experienced a 13 to 35 percent increase in flexibility after only eight weeks

(source: https://www.acefitness.org/getfit/studies/YogaStudy2005.pdf).

In addition to the aforementioned health benefits, yoga also lends many conveniences when fitting a workout into a busy schedule. Short duration yoga sessions allow you to workout pretty much anywhere so long as you bring your yoga mat with you. For instance, if you have an hour or even half an hour lunch break from your work, you can easily fit a 20 minute yoga workout in while still having enough time to eat. You can do so, by taking your yoga mat over to a local park or utilizing a private, perhaps exercise related space that your work has. What’s more, this goes for any time throughout your week, including mornings, nights and even weekends.

Long Duration Yoga Sessions (60 minutes or longer)

While short duration yoga sessions are great for a busy schedule and provide benefits that are otherwise missed without any exercise at all, longer duration yoga sessions ensure that you get the full benefits of the exercise, including muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and balance. For example, in the same study performed at the University of Wisconsin, researchers found that the benefits of an hour yoga session transferred over to other forms of exercise as well. Such results included members of the group performing on average six more push ups and 14 more curl ups, attesting substantially to the participants’ improvements in muscular strength and endurance.

The structure of the previously mentioned study consisted of five minutes of relaxation breathing exercises, followed by a 10 minute warm up, 35 minutes of full on yoga poses and a five minute relaxation breathing and cool down portion. With such a significant chunk of time devoted to exercise, you must be sure that you can fit it into your schedule without rushing. After all, one of the main purposes of yoga is to walk away and be preasent for the rest of your life. – See more at: http://creativeedgeyoga.com/2013/03/yoga-and-your-real-life/#sthash.Oqr8I79k.dpuf