When You Do Too Much Yoga, This Is What Happens

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, and with good reason. A physical discipline that offers strength and flexibility training paired with excellent mental and spiritual benefits is rare. If you love the feeling you get on your mat, you may think that the more yoga you can do, the better. However, you may want to think twice before you roll out your mat every single day.

Despite its reputation for being a low-impact exercise, serious hip problems appear to be on the rise in yoga teachers (via Vice). Women, who already tend to be flexible, are at risk of injuring joints by stretching too far, while men tend to let smaller injuries accumulate. Even low-impact exercises, it seems, can have a profound impact on the body when not practiced in moderation. Repeated strain and overuse injuries can even result in surgery, stress fractures, or a joint replacement.

How much yoga is too much yoga?

Yoga teachers and even the yoga sutras (practical textbooks on the theory of yoga) advocate the benefits of a frequent yoga practice — defined by YogAnatomy as anything more than four times per week. However, practicing intensely for a long time wears out the muscle in a way that doesn't actually promote growth and repair. Moreover, if a muscle is too fatigued, your body may recruit other muscles to pick up the slack in a given movement, increasing your risk of injury.

Practicing yoga to excess is also counter to the very purpose of practicing yoga, which is ostensibly to become healthier while promoting mindfulness and relaxation. A major part of the practice of yoga is becoming more aware of the sensations of the body (via Reflexion Yoga). A good yardstick for exertion is your breath. If your breathing has become labored or you find yourself holding it in, chances are, you're courting an injury or pushing too far.

If you do practice daily, mindbodygreen suggests no more than 15 to 30 minutes on your mat. Don't hesitate to take a rest day or two if you notice that your joints and muscles are sore, unusually strained, or you feel exhausted.