So, you started doing yoga but you are confused about the exact time frame to hold a pose. Obviously, it’s easy to follow the instructions while in a yoga class, but what about at-home practices? With so much confusing and contradicting information on the internet, it is easy to get overwhelmed. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Read this complete guide on how long to hold a yoga pose, depending on the different factors.
How Long Should You Ideally Hold a Yoga Pose?
Generally, the time in yoga is counted in terms of breaths. This is as follows:
- 3 breaths – Short hold
- 5 breaths – Medium hold
- 8 breaths and above – Long hold
This is, however, not a very reliable time frame as the breathing time of every individual is different. Yet, this method is used because it helps you prolong your 1 breath from 5 secs to 10 secs. In this way, you increase your holding time without changing the number of breaths.
So, initially, try to hold the pose for 3 breaths and increase your time from there.
Factors in Which the Holding Time Depends
When it comes to holding yoga positions, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. There are various factors on which it depends:
Type of Yoga
This is one of the most vital elements that determine the holding time. The following are some of the most popular types of yoga practices:
- Vinyasa yoga: This yoga is practiced in a flowing pattern, meaning there is little rest between the poses. Therefore, poses are held for a shorter time since the focus is linking your movement with your breath.
Hold: 1-5 breaths
- Hatha yoga: This is the most dynamic kind of yoga. Poses are held for a moderate amount of time since the focus is on the alignment and elongating your muscles.
Hold: 5 breaths
- Yin yoga: In this yoga, the positions are held for a long time since the focus is on the your connective tissues. The longer you hold, the deeper your stretch will be.
Hold: 3 – 7 minutes
- Iyengar yoga: Poses here are held longer since the focus is on the precision and perfecting the posture. It uses some props that make it easy to attain the pose comfortably.
Hold: 5 – 30 minutes.
- Power yoga: Power yoga positions are held for a moderate amount of time, focusing on building strength and endurance.
Hold: 3 – 5 breaths
- Hot yoga: Poses are held for a shorter time since the focus is on the complete detoxification of the body through sweating. It increases your endurance.
Hold: 5 – 10 breaths
- Restorative yoga: During this, the positions are held for a moderate to a long time, focusing on the complete relaxation.
Hold: 5 – 20 minutes
Level of Advancement
This is another essential factor that decides how long you can hold a pose.
- If you are a beginner, start with shorter holding times (1- 2 breaths) and gradually increase as your body gets accustomed to the yoga practice.
- If you are advanced, you can hold poses longer (5 – 10 breaths) as your body is already used to the practice.
No matter how seasoned you are, there will always be poses that will challenge your body. For example, Yoganidrasana or Sirsa Padasana can give the advanced yogis a hard time. In such cases, just try to achieve the position and hold it for just a few breaths.
If you have any pain or injury, it is advisable to just reach the position. Don’t hold it if it’s uncomfortable. Instead, focus on the other poses that do not aggravate the injury.
The use of props such as folded blankets, bolsters, blocks, and straps can help you achieve a pose perfectly and make it more comfortable to hold the position for a longer time.
Your Health on a Particular Day
There will be days when your body will be more flexible and feel energetic. On such days, try to increase your holding time. Similarly, when you are not feeling well or tired, scale back the holding time.
The Type of Breath You Use
The kind of breath you use during a pose also determines how long you should hold it. For example, if you are using an Ujjayi breath, you can hold the pose for a longer time as it helps to maintain the stability of the body.
If you have any respiratory issues such as asthma, it is advisable not to hold your breath for too long. Being pregnant also restricts you from performing difficult asanas and holding them for a longer time.
How Much Time You Have For the Practice
This is a no-brainer. If you have only 15 minutes for your practice, you will not be able to do all the asanas or hold them for very long. So, it’s important to reel back your expectations and focus on the quality over quantity.
Previous Day Soreness
If your muscles are sore from the last day’s workout, it is advisable not to push too hard. Give your body a time to recover. It is better to focus on holding the stretching positions for a longer time rather than the strenuous ones.
Now that you know every factor that decides your holding time, let’s discuss the benefits of each holding time.
Benefits of Different Holding Times
Just because you are holding an asana for a short period doesn’t imply that it is of no use. Each holding time has its benefits:
Short Hold Benefits
Instant boost of energy: When you hold a pose for a shorter time, it gives an instant burst of energy as the blood flow to that particular area increases.
Stimulates the nervous system: When you move in and out of a pose quickly, it invigorates the sympathetic nervous system. It makes you more active and alert.
A good warm-up: Quick movements help increase your body temperature and prepare you for the more challenging poses.
Long Hold Benefits
Improves flexibility: When you hold a pose for a longer time, it helps improve your flexibility as the muscles gradually stretch.
Calms the mind: While you focus on your breath and the asana, it still helps the mind and calms the nervous system.
Builds strength: As you are using your body weight to support yourself, it helps build strength.
The body is your best guide. Try the different holding times and see what works perfectly for you. Do not get disheartened if you cannot hold a pose for long. Just focus on your breath and be in the present moment. Remember, yoga is not a competition. It is a journey within yourself.