How Long to Hold Yoga Poses

So how long should you hold a yoga pose? There is no specific answer to this question. It will depend and vary based on different things, such as:

  • Your mental state;
  • Your goals, if any;
  • Your physical condition;
  • Which posture you are doing;
Downward Facing Dog

Your Mental State

Practicing Yoga has an impact on your emotions. It makes total sense to choose a sequence of asanas that will suit you at each time of practice, along with the most beneficial durations.

For example, if you feel stressed, choosing calming postures such as forward bends will help you feel better. Hold the forward bend for at least 5 slow and long breaths. If you can comfortably hold the posture longer, you can keep going. To calm your mind, take enough time to feel your body and your breath, as you deepen the stretch gently.

On the other hand, a faster pace will be more invigorating and more refreshing for your mind. If you feel that you need to wake-up, try holding the posture for 1 breath, then flow to another posture. You could choose Sun Salutations, where the postures are generally held for 1 inhale or 1 exhale.

But in general, holding a posture for 5 breaths is a great duration. This is especially common for standing postures. 5 long slow breaths allow enough time to feel and experience the posture. But feel free to continue up to 10 breaths or even more, as long as it feels right for your body.

Your Goals

If you were training at the gym, it is likely that you would have some goals. In yoga, you can work toward physical goals too. Even though yoga is a lot more than a body exercise, all the physical benefits that come with yoga practice are there for you to appreciate.

Longer posture durations are suitable to improve flexibility. Muscles take a long time to lengthen. Choose asanas that target the areas that you would like to work on. Start at 5 breaths and increase as you progress. A posture can be held for several minutes. Just make sure to listen to your body. Feel a nice stretch, not pain.

Similarly, to gain strength, increase the duration of the postures requiring greater muscle effort to longer than 5 long slow breaths. You can also hold the asana for a shorter time, such as 1 or 2 breaths, and come back to it repetitively.

If you are trying to lose weight, flowing between poses with each breath is a great option. Work to increase the speed of your heart beat.

Your Physical Condition

How long you hold a yoga pose will be affected by your level of fitness. If you would like to hold a posture for a longer duration, but 1, 2 or 3 breaths is what your body can handle at this point, it's ok. Listen to your body. Each time you practice yoga, try to slightly increase the duration and get used to a good breathing technique. With a consistent practice, you will feel your strength build up pretty quickly.

Which Posture You Are Doing

Not all asanas are generally held for the same duration. A very challenging posture is obviously more difficult to hold for a long time than a gentle and easy one. So it is normal that not all poses last equally.