Practicing yoga is similar to most forms of exercise in that both shorter and longer sessions can still be beneficial. Whether intertwining yoga and meditation time for a short 20-minute session, or going for an extended workout- longer than an hour, both can do wonders for flexibility, muscle strength and result in numerous other health benefits. Here are some helpful tidbits to show the specific benefits of short and long duration yoga sessions.
Short Yoga Sessions (60 minutes or less)
The benefits of yoga sessions lasting less than 1 hour mirror those of longer sessions in many ways. They can drastically improve flexibility and joint mobility when 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 sessions under an hour. More specifically, a study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), found that a group practicing shorter yoga sessions experienced a 13 to 35 percent increase in flexibility after only eight weeks. (1)
In addition, yoga practiced in shorter sessions works well when fitting a workout into a busy schedule. Short duration yoga sessions allow portable workouts- they can be done pretty much anywhere- so long as a yoga mat is handy. What’s more, this goes for any time throughout the week, including mornings, nights and even weekends.
Long Yoga Sessions (longer than 60 minutes)
While short duration yoga sessions are great for a busy schedule and provide benefits that can otherwise be missed without any exercise at all, longer yoga sessions ensure the full benefits of the exercise, including muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and balance.
A sample longer yoga practice could include 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, one won’t feel rushed. After all, one of the main purposes of yoga is to walk away feeling rested, rejuvenated and relaxed, not in a hurry to make it to work or to pick up the kids from soccer practice.
When trying to gauge how to fit yoga into a busy life, there is nothing wrong with adopting a mix match of short and long sessions. Fitting three 20-minute yoga sessions during the week and one longer 60-minute session on the weekend into one’s routine will go a long way!