How Long Is a Yoga Session?
There's very few regulations when it comes to yoga, and that includes the amount of time you spend practicing each session. A standard class is usually 60 minutes, with some practices lasting 90 minutes or longer. However, express classes of 30 or 45 minutes are often offered by studios and in workplaces that offer wellness classes to their employees.
If you have just 20, 10 or even 5 minutes, you can squeeze in a yoga session. Online practices of these lengths are readily available, or perhaps you practice on your own with just a few Sun Salutations, the classic energizing warmup of many yoga routines.
The Range is Broad
If you're considering heading to a class at a yoga studio or other fitness facility, it's best to check with the location to find out how long the practice will be. Usually, it's listed on the schedule, but a quick call will give you all the information you need.
A typical class in the West is designed to fit neatly into an hour, but yoga wasn't always intended to be presented in such a package. A true Mysore-style Ashtanga class that involves you doing the practice at your own pace in a group environment may take 90 minutes, or last as long as 3 hours if you spend extra time honing specific postures.
A Bikram-style Hot class consist of 26 specific postures in a 105-degree room lasts 90 minutes, but some studios (that are not "Bikram" licensed) may offer a hot class lasting just 60 minutes.
Do What You Can
Committing to a practice two or more times per week lasting an hour will progress your practice and provide you with benefits such as increased flexibility and mental clarity. But, if heading to a full hour class, or one that's longer, is impractical or creates more stress than benefit, look for other options.
Some studios and gyms may provide express options to fit into a busy schedule. You might find these shorter sessions inserted at a lunch-hour, for example. Their 30- or 45-minute classes may be designed to combine standing and seated postures in a gentle Hatha style, or even be exclusively about rejuvenation and relaxation in a restorative practice.
Be creative with where you practice yoga.
If getting to a studio isn't possible, yoga still is. When you awake in the morning, breathe 10 breaths into a few gentle postures, such as Mountain, Forward Fold and Warrior I to energize a sleepy body. Unkink a sore spine with Child's pose, Cobra and a kneeling Lunge. Many studios and online sites offer yoga videos of varying length, from just a few minutes to several hours.
Some experienced practitioners find that just 20 minutes per day when they've got no time to fit in a longer session keeps them flexible and strong. Even if you can't get to a formal class, you'll see benefits. A 2012 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that regular yoga practitioners who had a committed home practice experienced greater health benefits from yoga that those who put a priority on practicing outside the home. The benefits included better sleep, mindfulness, perceived well-being and body-mass index.
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Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.