“Yoga doesn’t take time; it gives time” – Ganga White. Nevertheless, time can be an important element in your practice to receive all of its healing benefits. Have you ever wondered how long to hold each pose? While the answer is ambiguous, there are several factors to consider making this time the best for you.
Although research is not conclusive, a common rule of thumb is to hold most poses for 30 seconds to one minute. It is often most natural to measure time in breaths, to fully connect the mind and body. As a simple rule, 30 seconds usually involves around 6 to 8 breaths.
Luckily, your instructor will guide you through this experience, but remember, you are not the same as the person beside you. New yogis may not have the strength and flexibility to maintain the pose as long as a more experienced neighbor. Beginners can try to shorten the holding time and do more repetitions of the pose, instead. This time is yours. Use it to guide your body comfortably through the asanas with focus and mindful breaths.
The optimal length of holding time is largely dependent on the yoga style. For example, Vinyasa Yoga is intended to create a flow of movement, so postures aren’t held for long periods of time. Hatha Yoga instead ventures to build strength and flexibility. Poses in this practice are held for 2-5 minutes. Bikram Yoga has a very structured timeframe of 90 minutes with the first 13 postures involving an inhale for one minute and exhale for one minute as well. From here, each pose differs in time, such as the half-moon pose for 45-60 seconds. Over-exertion is important to consider in each of the styles, and one must honor any limitations and pain in the body. Time can be used to strengthen, lengthen, and connect. It is truly a gift given, not taken within our practice.