How often should you practice yoga? Six days a week? Every day? Once a week? Once a month? As with all things, the answer depends.

The traditional mandate for Ashtanga yoga is a six-day-a-week asana practice. What confuses some yogis is hearing Ashtanga teachers say, “Practice every day”. At best, this is confusing calendar math – at worst, it’s disheartening for yogis struggling to fit one or two yoga practices into their weekly schedules.

“Practice every day” and #yogaeverydamnday on Instagram may seem innocuous, and might inspire some. But this messaging be harmful to yogis who haven’t been taught to consider their energetic needs and the eight limbs of yoga when deciding how often to practice.

So how many days per week “should” we practice? I will not answer with a number, but an idea: ultimately, a yoga practice is meant to add to, not take away from, the quality of a practitioner’s life.

For example, let’s consider the lives of two yogis:

  1. An ambitious Type-A adrenaline junkie with a full-time high-stress job who is committed to Cross Fit and yoga.
  2. A stay-at-home parent to a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old who works part-time on the weekends.

Both practitioners enjoy their yoga practice for the mental and physical benefits. But can they carve out time to practice six days per week, for an hour and a half or more, and still allocate enough energy to fulfill their familial and financial needs without losing their ever-loving minds? I won’t say it’s impossible, but I don’t think it’s sustainable for most.

A six-day-practice week is not something yogis should compare themselves against nor shame themselves into achieving if it doesn’t fit their schedule or fulfill their energetic needs.

If the yogis above strived for a six-day-a-week daily practice but didn’t have an hour and a half of time six out of the seven days in a week, they could adjust their practice accordingly. For example, they could:

  • Practice deep breathing while waiting in line at the grocery store
  • Unroll their mats, practice sun salutations for seven minutes, rest for 30 seconds, and then have a coffee
  • Notice their desire to scream at someone, but instead taking a few breaths before speaking rather than shouting
  • Meditate for 10 minutes in the early morning, on a lunch break, or late evening before bed

Getting better at yoga doesn’t necessarily mean mastering physical postures (asanas). Yoga is a mental, physical, and for some, a spiritual practice that clears clutter and creates clarity. Figuring out how to make time for yoga requires flexible diligence, not destructive discipline.

Have you struggled to find the sweet spot for yoga in your schedule? What has worked or not worked for you? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.

Rachel Drummond is a student and teacher of Ashtanga Yoga, handstand enthusiast, and writer. She enjoys practicing and teaching yoga all over the world and writing about how to bring yoga to life off the mat through contemplative physical practices.

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