How often should you practice yoga to see progress, to make progress in the movement practice?
It's a controversial question because most yoga teachers are going to answer this by quoting “aparigraha” - the attitude of non-attachment. We just practice yoga. We don't mind if we progress or we don't. We don't look at it or measure it. We just practice.
Having the ability to detach from certain things in life can certainly be a good thing. You shouldn't define yourself by your ability to press into a hand stand, or hold a crow pose, or forward fold really deeply, or drop back into a wheel! However, it is useful to be able to create these movements.
One thing is not the same in two different environments, right? So if we take a flower that grows in the desert, and we take it over here to London, or we plant it in the concrete, it's not necessarily going to be able to survive. It's different in the two different places. Yoga is very much like that practiced in India or practiced over here or practiced in the States or practiced a few different places. It feels different, it's taught differently, and it's evolving and changing all the time. If you take the average Westerner, or potentially any Westerner, and you ask them to continuously do something with no results, and no attachment to the results, and to not inquire as to whether what they're doing is efficient, or safe, or balanced, or any of these things, you're going to have a hard time getting that person to repeatedly come back onto the mat and do the practice.
There’s nothing wrong or unnatural with wanting to have intrinsic and extrinsic goals. If you currently struggle to hold a crow pose and you want to achieve that, then go for it – practice, practice, practice in a way that you enjoy. You’ll feel great when you achieve the crow pose it, then you can move on to the next thing.
Mental health is benefited by making progress, forward motion, something that's very clearly understood in psychological literature. Using a Western framework - many gym programs or resistance training programs tend to suggest a minimum of three times a week. However, it's going to be different for everyone. There are so many different styles of practice and schools of yoga.
It's impossible to give a very specific answer that's perfect for everyone, but I think three times a week is going to be enough to see benefits for your mental health, benefits in your flexibility or mobility, you strength, your muscular endurance, and probably your body composition as well. These improvements are going to be most apparent if you're quite new to the practice. So get onto the mat at least three times a week.
This article was created for us by our Global Brand Warrior, yoga teacher, personal trainer and Broga Master Trainer Ben Harrison. For more about Ben, click here