Is A Shortened Yoga Session Still A Good Workout?

Yoga's benefits have become widely known since it exploded onto the global scene between the mid and late 20th century. The National Institutes of Health lays out many of the benefits associated with a regular or even semi-regular yoga practice. In fact, the United States Army has been conducting its own research into the practice to determine if it can benefit American troops (per Stars and Stripes).

And it's little wonder, given that the benefits are fairly wide-ranging. The NIH states that yoga can improve a person's sleep and mental health, reduce their overall stress level, and contribute to weight loss or management.

Yoga provides enough of a benefit in these areas that a 2022 article in the Journal of Integrative & Complementary Medicine labeled yoga a "vibrant science", specifically as it relates to integrative medicine. For many, however, the question remains of how much yoga is required in order to achieve its various benefits.

Focus on the habit, not the duration

The trick to yoga, as explained by the Himalayan Yoga Institute, is knowing the limits of your body as it responds to the specific yoga styles you've chosen. After all, you don't want to overdo it. Luckily, as U.S. News points out, your body will give you several warning signs before you take a yoga practice too far.

These signs mostly center on the way your body reacts to certain yoga poses. For example, U.S. News states that you shouldn't continue a pose if you feel a twinge in your lower back, or any type of pain, especially in your joints. When instructors tell practitioners to breathe through their discomfort, they're talking about sensations in the "belly" of the muscle, rather than the more vulnerable joints.

The Himalayan Yoga Institute recommends a general guideline of three one-hour yoga sessions a week. However, if a solid hour on your practice days is more than you can dedicate or work through, you can always try shorter sessions. Even 20 minutes of yoga can provide benefits.

Most yoga studies focus on the long-term effects of sticking with a yoga program. And it is these studies that yoga's benefits are based on. Even The New York Times states that short daily sessions are better than long sessions if it means people are more likely to actually go through their yoga sequence.

So if you need to shorten your yoga session, don't worry. The important thing is maintaining the habit.