Should You Do Yoga Every Day? - Ariana Rabinovitch Yoga and Movement Education Google+

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Should You Do Yoga Every Day?

Most yoga teachers tell you to practice every day.

But you shouldn’t – and at the least, you shouldn’t do the same set of poses every day.  Why?

Because anything that you do repeatedly over long periods of time can lead to a repetitive stress injury (RSI).

Even yoga.

And especially some of the common poses we see in a typical vinyasa class – like Chaturanga. I’m not saying Chaturanga is bad – but doing dozens of them every day is bad.  In order to strive for balance in your body you need a variety of movements that target all your major muscle groups.

Some of my first teachers told me that it is ideal to practice the physical asanas every single day. The problem is that if we did practice every day, we would probably gravitate toward what we like and do the same style of yoga or the same poses repeatedly. For the most part, we humans stick to what we like – we stay within our comfort zone.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Your body needs variation. This is a fundamental and powerful law of nature.

This applies to genetics. Diversity plays a crucial role in the survival and adaptability of a species and is essential for it to evolve.

This applies to agriculture – little to no diversity makes crops extremely susceptible to widespread disease.

And it applies to your diet – where a variety of proteins, carbs and vegetables is ideal. Your body needs dozens of amino acids, vitamins and minerals. You can’t satisfy that by eating the same meals every day.

Same goes for what you DO with your body.

Change your routine.

MIX IT UP!

If you do a ton of yoga then you need to balance it with some strength work. If you lift weights all the time, then you probably need to incorporate yoga into your routine.According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) it is ideal to have a balance of cardiorespiratory, resistance, flexibility, and neuromotor exercises.

Keep Your Brain Fit Too

Another problem with staying in your comfort zone is that you get mindless. We tend to check out mentally when we do something over and over again the same way day in and day out. Doing something new or in a new way forces you to pay attention. You may not like it at first but it forces you to focus as your brain and body try to make sense of what is happening. Your brain benefits from this variation.

Bringing newness to your practice or practicing in a “new” way can change hundreds of millions of connections between the nerve cells in your brain maps.

In order to keep your brain “fit” you must learn something new, instead of replaying already mastered skills.

Be Strong And Flexible  

I made the mistake of staying in my own comfort zone.

I was always very flexible and gravitated toward yoga because I had a natural ability for it. But after many years of practice, I started to feel too flexible and my joints became unstable.

Thanks to my extensive anatomy studies, I know that the body needs strength in addition to flexibility so that there is STABILITY.

This is why you might hear me say in class that yoga is about achieving a balance of flexibility and strength. Because flexibility + flexibility + more flexibility leads to INSTABILITY.

For the last two years I started incorporating strength training into my own routine. Most recently I started taking a conditioning class at a Crossfit gym with the owner Eric Von Frohlich. It’s hard for me and completely out of my comfort zone but I know my body needs it. It’s brought my body more into balance by building up my strength, promoting healthy joints and giving me a good cardiovascular workout.

Not only did it improve my yoga practice, but my kettle bell swings actually became part of my practice. I realized I can focus on form and get in the meditative zone with any movement – whether a pushup, rowing or a pull up.

¡Viva Variety!

Whatever your yoga asana practice is – don’t get sucked into thinking that it is ideal to do it every day.

Vary your routine.

Include walking, running or lift some weights. If you absolutely believe that you must practice every day then at least make sure you are not doing the exact same poses every day. Remove downdog for a week – see what happens. Replace updog with locusts for 2 weeks and see what happens. Or you could practice one of the many other limbs of yoga – meditation, pranayama, etc. Get out of your comfort zone.

Strive for a balance of strength and flexibility in your body.

In the comments section below – tell me one thing that you always do in your yoga practice that you will let go of this week. Then make a plan and decide how you will change up your yoga routine and strive for balance in your body.

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9 Responses to Should You Do Yoga Every Day?

  1. Kristen B. June 7, 2013 at 5:14 PM #

    Great article Ariana! I had a similar problem with cultivating too much flexibility that took me almost 10 years to fully understand and figure out – I wish that I had read this article as a beginner approaching practice, it would have saved me a lot of confusion and suffering. Variety as it relates to physical balance and neural plasticity is such an important message for the yoga community and beyond – keep up the excellent work!

  2. admin June 10, 2013 at 5:08 PM #

    Thanks Kristen! I wish I knew this early on when I started yoga too. Better late than never!

  3. Christian July 10, 2013 at 10:13 AM #

    I have a similar problem in my own yoga practice. I tend to stay in my comfort zone and repeat poses that have become relatively easy for me.
    I have also learned about the instability issue the hard way. I focused too much on stretching and not enough on building strength, which resulted in two dislocated shoulders on two separate occasions. Now I’ve started to include a bit of purely physical workout into my daily routine to bring stability back into my joints.

    I have to say though that I disagree with the title of your article. A dedicated yoga practitioner SHOULD do yoga every single day, and I also tell that to my students. But a lot of people forget that yoga is a lot more than going through your sequence of asanas. I try to get students to tune in to their own bodies and adapt their daily practice accordingly. So on a day you feel tired, exhausted or just not in the mood for an hour of asana practice you can still get out your mat and do 10 minutes of mindful belly breathing or just sit down for a bit and reflect on the more philosophical aspects of yoga (have I been a little too engrossed in materialistic things lately, how have I been treating people around me, …). This is also part of practicing yoga and there is no excuse not to spend at least a few minutes every day being mindful, either about your body in an asana or about another aspect of this all-encompassing philosophy that is yoga.

    • admin July 12, 2013 at 2:03 AM #

      Christian- thanks for sharing your story. I think it is hard for yoga teachers to talk about their own injuries. I hear of teachers who have been practicing for decades who are now getting hip replacements, or suffering other physical issues but it is all hush hush.
      I completely agree with you about the title! I could’ve clarified that by changing it to “Should you do yoga asana every day?” Towards the end I alluded to the fact that one could practice any of the other limbs of yoga such as pranayama or meditation but I could have talked more about that too.

  4. Erik T November 3, 2015 at 11:41 PM #

    Hello! New to Yoga here. I started yesterday. I’m an avid bicyclist and my legs are extremely tight.

    Thats what I came for…but I’m interested in overall flexibility.

    I’m curious to learn an yoga routine so I may become more flexible and limber.

    Where do I start?

    • admin November 4, 2015 at 11:49 AM #

      Hello Erik! Wow you started yesterday! Well first I would recommend that you try a beginner or basics class at a studio that is convenient for you – 1X or 2x per week. Look for an experienced and well-educated instructor and let them know you are an avid cyclist looking to improve your flexibility. If you want online classes I’m starting a new online yoga + movement program that would be great for you especially if you want the benefits of personalized instruction but don’t have the budget for it. Send me an email if you’re interested to ariana@arianayoga.com and best of luck with your new yoga endeavors!

  5. Ben January 9, 2017 at 4:33 AM #

    After mucking around for more than a few years, intermittently practising yoga from a dvd at home, I decided for 2017 as a resolution to practice everyday. Reading this article couldn’t have been more timely for me, thank you Ariana.

  6. Kamal April 7, 2017 at 11:38 AM #

    Great article. I do yoga , walking for 30 minutes. I also do push ups & a few pull ups
    almost every day. Is that a good mix Also I don’t do the same poses every day. I have a main concern , I love to achieve my splits so I focus on lower body stretching until I get there. Is that ok? Thanks a million.

  7. debra July 13, 2017 at 10:28 AM #

    everyday different classes and is good to join everyday in yoga or should take a break, this is my first time I joined in classes is Gentle beginners,Vinyasa,Chair yoga. I need your advice thank you

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