A student asked me that question last week. And in typical fashion, I replied with a much longer explanation than he was prepared for. I really need to work on my one-liners.
The answer can, as every answer seems to these days, be boiled down to this one principle: “It depends.” Despite what the health and fitness industry has tried so desperately to sell us, there is no one-size-fits-all . . . for anything. Not for cardio, not for strength training, not for running, not for low back pain, not for diet, not for cholesterol, not for beautiful skin, not even for sleep. The only true one-size-fits-all is that we should all “eat well, sleep well, and move well.” But how we do all those things depends entirely on context.
I think the following three questions are pretty vital and can be applied to ANYTHING you’re doing. “How often should I _____________ (drink alcohol, run, take calcium, do squats, eat blueberries, etc.)?”
So, how often should you practice yoga? Ask yourself these questions first.
1. WHY do you practice? (For spirituality, meditation, to get stronger, get some movement in, increase flexibility, get rid of back pain, etc.)
2. HOW do you practice? (Do you do everything the teacher suggests? Are you competitive? Do you make modifications? Do you know what it means to listen to your body? Do you equate spirituality with the poses? What types of yoga classes are you choosing?)
3. What are your current physical goals? Because everyone, regardless of age or profession or hobbies, should have physical goals of some kind.
AND your answers are likely never set in stone! They can morph with every day/week/month/year of your life as your body changes, your priorities change, and your life circumstances change. Re-evaluate your answers regularly and adapt your plan of action accordingly.