The standard yoga class seems to be somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes. The question is -- does a yoga class need to be that long?
I say no. I'm a firm believer that you can get just as many benefits from a 30 minute practice as you can from a longer practice. If it's between a short practice or no practice at all, I encourage a short practice. I also encourage including more than asana in your practice -- pranayama and meditation are an essential part of yoga and shouldn't be ignored in favor of asana.
Fitting Yoga into Your Daily Schedule
When clients come to me for private sessions they often complain that they don't have much free time and find it difficult to fit a yoga practice into their daily schedule. When I create a practice for them that consists of 15 minutes of asana and 15 minutes of pranayama and meditation, they often remark that they can find the time to practice regularly.
Cutting Back on Asana and Pumping Up the Pranayama
Over the years, I've cut back on the amount of asana that I practice. I prefer to beef up my pranayama practice instead. While I'm down in South Carolina, I've been starting my days with a quick, 25-minute practice followed by 15 minutes of pranayama. I feel every bit as wonderful as I did back when I practiced asana for 60-90 minutes -- and I have more time for hiking.
Short Practices for Those Short on Time
If time is keeping you from practicing yoga regularly, why not try shorter practices? Here are some free short yoga practices that you can try (experiment with incorporating shorter practices supplemented by longer practices when you have more time):
- Renew Your Rhythms -- I've been practicing this wonderful Kundalini practice from Yoga Today practically the entire time I've been on vacation. This 25-minute practice revitalizes, energizes, and gets my day off to a great start.
- Yoga for Less Stress -- This is a quick, 5-minute practice that's perfect for those of you who want to sprinkle a little yoga throughout their daily schedule. You can spend 15 minutes first thing in the morning practicing some Sun Salutations then add in this yoga for less stress practice 3-4 more times throughout your day for a well-rounded daily practice.
- Yoga Practices with Jason Crandell -- The Jason Crandell Channel on YogaJournal.com offers a wide variety of short practices that suit every need. Choose from energizing practices to hip openers to core strength to an evening, wind-down practice.
- Fists of Fire Detox -- Brooklyn Yogini Sadie Nardini teaches this wonderful 2-part detox sequence that will get you sweating and tone your core.
- 15 Minutes of Freedom -- This well-rounded practice offers a little bit of everything -- back bends, forward bends, twisting postures, and side stretches.
Consistency Rather Than Duration of Practice
I suggest working with what you've got -- if you have only 10 minutes a day for your yoga, make it count. Just because the standard yoga class is 60-90 minutes, doesn't mean you have to practice for that length of time. Consistency is what's important -- not duration. It's better to practice 10 minutes a day every day than 90 minutes once or twice a week.