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Yoga can be a very empowering and enjoyable practice. In general, people start practicing yoga because it is a healthy, comforting, and peaceful practice for the mind and the body. Yoga can make you feel relaxed and light as all your worries have gone away. Also, it can be demanding. Yoga can allow you to challenge yourself to new levels of strength and versatility.
In your practice it’s important to focus on the pose and to remain aware of your breath and your body. Still, there is another factor that comes into play – the length of your hold. You may have heard someone asking “how long to hold yoga pose?” The answer however depends on several factors and there is no right or wrong response. Just as each individual body is unique, so too is your yoga practice; what works for some might not work for others.
So, for how long are you supposed to hold a yoga pose? As a general “rule” you can hold yoga poses for anywhere between a few seconds (one or two breaths) up to five minutes. It all depends on your body, style of practice, goals, mental state, body shape, fitness levels and even how you feel on a specific day.
Yet the most important thing is to listen closely to your body. This is one of the best ways to decide how long to hold yoga poses. Whenever you feel discomfort or exhaustion, it is time to get out of the pose.
Also, remember that yoga is not about competing with anyone else, nor with yourself. Yoga is all about taking some time out of your day to relax and reconnect with your body and mind. Everyone has their own limit of doing yoga poses so make sure to know the right time.
Ultimately remember the fact that what your ego wants to do, and what your body wants are often completely different things. What we want isn’t usually what we need.
How to Measure Time in Each Yoga Pose?
Before we go into how long to hold a yoga pose, it’s crucial to pay attention to how we measure time for each posture.
As with all aspects of yoga, it comes down to the breath. You might have heard the well-known saying, “If you can breathe, you can practice yoga.” Well, it’s true. So, bearing in mind this connection to the breath, it makes sense that we typically measure the amount of time in each yoga posture by the number of inhales and exhales. For instance, it is very usual to hear in a yoga class the instructor saying – “hold your down dog for five breaths.”
In order to experience the full benefits of yoga for the mind, body, and spirit, it is essential to measure how long to maintain a pose based on the number of breaths.
Because the breath is the one that is leading your transition into each posture, it’s not recommended to hold a yoga pose for any less than one inhale or exhale.
However, if you’re practicing a particularly slow kind of yoga (like restorative), you’ll probably hold poses for up to 5 or even 10 minutes. Since it would take too long to do so, the duration of each position, in this case, is measured in terms of time.
Questions to Ask Before Beginning Your Yoga Practice
Yoga can help you reconnect to your soul’s purpose and help you take the practice of yoga off the mat and into day-to-day life.
However, it’s also worth noting that asking a couple of questions before your yoga practice can be extremely practical — and that’s a very good thing.
How are you feeling?
Pay attention to your body and thoughts. How do you feel right now? Are you exhausted and stressed out or focused and energized? Do you need to focus on building energy or relax and calm down? Where can you feel tightness and stiffness?
Don’t be scared to slow down or speed up if that is what your body requires on any particular day (even if it goes against what you want).
Do you have any injuries?
It’s important to be aware of any injuries that you have so you can adjust for both faster and slower-paced lessons. Injury “stretching” is not the solution. However, occasionally holding particular poses for longer periods of time can ease tension and enhance mobility.
How much time do you have?
Sometimes practicality gets priority. Even if you only have a short amount of time, you may still fit a short flow into your routine. It’s better to do a few poses for a few breaths than to not do any yoga at all.
Factors to Determine How Long to Hold Yoga Pose
You might ask – “How long do you typically hold a yoga pose?” Well, there are number of things to take into account. Whatever the factors may be, remember to always listen to your body and do only what feels right for you.
Here are some factors to take into account when determining your hold times.
- What type of yoga are you practicing? – Every type or style of yoga requires a different time of holding postures. There are several different types, or styles of yoga like Ashtanga, Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa, Yin Yoga and many more. The fast-paced styles like Ashtanga and Vinyasa encourage more movement and flow rather than holding poses for a longer time. On the other hand styles like Hatha and Yin Yoga focus more on the pose and less on the flow.
- How intense is your yoga practice – Another factor to consider is the intensity of your practice and the yoga poses that you’re doing. If they are difficult or “advanced”, it will take time for you to do them easily and with proper alignment.
- The time of the day – Your practice time is important because you are most focused during the day, therefore beginners should always choose this time. It can be more challenging for your body if your choose to practice in the evenings, especially if you want to practice more vigorous types of yoga, as the body and mind might be more tired.
- Are you a beginner or experienced practitioner? – The duration of time since you began practicing yoga and your experience both play a significant role. Some people can only hold certain yoga poses for a longer period of time after years of practice.
- How are you with pain? – Your capacity for pain tolerance is yet another factor. Some yoga styles, though not all, can result in sore muscles at the beginning.
- Listen to your body – Ultimately it comes down to doing what’s best for you and your body Yoga aims to unite the body and the mind. It is important to listen to your body and create a practice that works for you.
Yoga Styles Affect How Long You Should Hold a Yoga Pose
There are many styles of yoga. Some of them are slow-paced and gentle, while others are vigorous with little time to rest between poses. To gain the benefits from your practice you should listen to your body and what it tells you. If you’re a beginner it is extremely important to do only what feels right for you.
Hatha Yoga – 30 seconds to 1-minute
Hold each posture for between 30 seconds to 1 minute before moving on to the next one in Hatha yoga, with little to no rest periods in between unless your teacher instructs you to.
Ashtanga Yoga – 5+ breaths
Another form of yoga that emphasizes breath and movement is Ashtanga. There are five Ashtanga series, and each practitioner must master each yoga pose in a series before going on to the next. Ashtanga is an extremely disciplined practice. To minimize discomfort and injuries as a beginner, remember not to push yourself too hard.
Vinyasa Yoga – 1 to 5 breaths
Vinyasa yoga connects the movement with the breath and targets large muscle groups. Your heart rate is increasing while practicing and your cardiovascular health is improving which can sometimes result in weight loss. This yoga style helps you shift your energy in the entire body.
Yin Yoga – 1 to 5 minutes
Yin yoga targets your joints as well as your deep connective tissue and fascia. Almost exclusively done on the floor, most of the poses target the lower back, inner thighs, hips, and pelvis.
Restorative Yoga – 5 to 20 minutes
Long holds and passive stretching are the main components of the relaxing class of restorative yoga. This style of yoga involves the use of props and provides intense muscular and overall relaxation.
Iyengar Yoga – 1 to 5 minutes
Iyengar yoga emphasizes breath control, precise alignment, and posture in every pose. This kind of yoga is very focused on the details.
Power Yoga – 1 to 5 breaths
Power yoga can be the best style for you if you want to improve your strength, flexibility, and endurance. It’s crucial when practicing this type of yoga to avoid holding positions for too long as doing so can decrease its advantages. Instead, concentrate on taking deep breaths during each pose to allow energy to freely flow through the body and the mind.
Benefits of Holding a Pose Longer
Holding yoga poses for a long time can give you a few significant benefits:
Improved Body Awareness
When you are doing flow or moving from one yoga pose to the other, it can be easy to miss the connection with the body, and how it feels in a particular asana. But when you stay in a pose for a longer period of time, you have time to notice your whole body, and how it feels and also it allows you to connect with your breath on a more deep level.
When you hold yoga poses for a longer time it engages the primary protagonist’s muscles. At the same time, the antagonist’s muscle is stretching. Therefore, the longer you maintain a certain pose the more flexible you are becoming.
Relives Tension and Pain
Most of the yoga poses when held for a longer period of time relieve physical and mental tension. When you are holding grounding and calming yoga poses for a long time they help you relieve tension from your muscles. Also, holding poses for a longer time can help in relieving pain, such as back pain, neck pain and wrist pain.
Benefits of Holding a Pose for a Shorter Time
Holding poses for three to five breaths or a short period of time also has its benefits:
Increases Your Stamina
Your stamina grows as you hold poses for short periods of time. Your stamina is your capacity to endure long-term physical or mental activity. The body and mind are put to test, growing stronger and more resilient as a result.
Improving Lung Capacity
Your lung capacity will increase if you quickly switch between poses. Naturally, assuming you maintain your breath, that is. The lungs get a good workout when you shift quickly between poses and therefore they become stronger.
Boosts Your Energy
Any physical activity, such as performing yoga asanas, requires energy. Your energy will increase when you hold poses for a short period of time. This is happening because the sympathetic nervous system, which controls your fight-or-flight reaction, is activated when you move quickly.
What Are Your Goals
Yoga connects the body and the mind, and it must be done at one’s own pace. There are many yoga poses that you can choose from (more exactly there are 84 yoga poses). How long to hold a yoga pose depends on lots of factors, but in the end, it all comes down to how it feels for you. Yoga is famous for its ability to be practiced without feeling compelled.
Additionally, there are ways to make sure you hold yoga poses for a long period of time if you want to challenge yourself. To assist in balance, you can use props like yoga balls, blankets, bolsters, and cushions. In summary, the length of time you hold a yoga pose depends greatly on why you are doing it.
There is no minimum or maximum limitation for repeating the yoga poses. For example, you can choose 10 poses to begin with and repeat them once or twice. Learn the joy of repetition as part of your practice. Try to do this mindfully, and each time, see if you can add something new to the posture. Increase your body’s effort and awareness in different areas to observe how are affected the pose and your mental state.
Do you ever wonder, what holding yoga poses does for your body? Does holding yoga poses build muscle? Well, the short answer is yes. Holding a pose for a longer period of time improves endurance and builds strength. For instance, when you hold Warrior II, the muscles on your legs and arms must work harder to hold the pose.
Bikram yoga consists of 26 yoga asanas that never change. This yoga style is created by the controversial Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s. The method entails practicing a set of predesigned yoga poses in a studio with a temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius and 40% humidity. Although there were many controversies about the founder (resulting in a Netflix documentary “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator”) Bikram yoga still is very popular in the US and worldwide.