Life. It’s a beautiful thing, but it’s also pretty busy, hectic, and stressful. Which is probably why you decided to take up yoga in the first place. But when it already feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, finding time for an hour of yoga five days a week can feel near impossible.
So, you might be wondering if it’s worth opting for a few smaller sessions of yoga instead. 20 minutes one morning before the kids are up perhaps, or 20 minutes of yoga in your room once you’ve finished work. You know, just to fit it in where you can.
And the answer is yes.
If opting for shorter sessions means that you’re actually more likely to do them, and stick with it, then it is definitely the best option for you. And you can still expect to see benefits from it.
Pressuring yourself to find 60 minutes that you don’t have from each and every day, is likely to end up with you just hanging up the towel (or mat) for good. You don’t have enough time, you’ll do it tomorrow instead, or the next day, or the next day. And ultimately tomorrow never comes.
If shorter sessions are what will work for you – then shorter sessions it is.
The Benefits Of Yoga
You are probably well aware that yoga has an abundance of benefits. Like, the list honestly seems never-ending. But, we’ll take the time to go over some of them now. Just so you can see why those 20-minute sessions will be of great value to you.
- Lower Risk Of Long-Term Conditions – Exercise and yoga are linked to lowering the risk of many serious conditions such as heart diseases, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
- Weight Reduction – Yoga can help you lose weight and also increase your muscle strength and help tone your body.
- Improved Respiration – Yoga’s breathing techniques can help individuals to have an improved respiratory system which can also help to boost energy levels
- Happy Hormones – You’ll release endorphins and lower your cortisol levels while practicing yoga meaning that you’ll feel much happier and less stressed.
- More Mindful – Through breathing exercises and meditation, yoga helps you to become more mindful. You will be able to tackle situations without activating your fight or flight response.
As you can see, there are plenty of great reasons to start yoga, even for just 20 minutes, and believe it or not, this only skims the surface of the ways that yoga can help you both physically and mentally.
Which Is Best: Several Short Sessions Vs One Long One?
When it comes to exercise in general, you’ll find tons of studies in the sports science field that prove that splitting your workout into several shorter sessions can actually be as effective, if not more so, than opting for one longer session.
This is the case in terms of heart health, aerobic fitness, and weight loss.
And it’s not just our bodies that benefit from shorter sessions. According to a study, it has a pretty positive effect on our minds too.
The study showed evidence that individuals who had engaged in at least ten minutes of activity were significantly less stressed than on the days when they had not engaged in physical activity at all.
Although, it’s worth keeping in mind that this study was based on high-intensity activity which isn’t exactly like yoga.
Do The Same Rules Apply For Yoga Then?
Okay, so we’ve looked at exercise as a whole, but what about yoga specifically? Well, there’s no denying that you’ll be able to get more out of a 60-minute session than a 20-minute one. At least in terms of delving deeper into the practice.
But, with life, as it is, many of us simply don’t have that 60 minutes to spare. So, can you still expect to see the amazing effects of yoga from a 20-minute session? What are the studies saying in this instance?
Well, one thing to keep in mind is that there aren’t many large-scale studies to look at. Most focus on its therapeutic use with clinical groups that are, for the most part, few in number.
However, there are definitely still a few studies out there that definitely support the claim that 20-minute sessions are just as effective as 60-minute sessions.
For example, a study from 2012 with over 1000 yoga student participants found that it wasn’t so much the duration of the yoga practice that produced all those amazing benefits, but the frequency in which they practiced.
Frequency actually beat out not only the duration of the session, but also the amount of time the participant had been practicing over the years, or the amount of classes they’d attended. So, it seems here that 20 minutes every day is the perfect way to go – as long as you keep it up.
Another study also found that for the 700 participants, practicing for a minimum of 12 minutes of yoga daily or every other day improved their bone health, while another smaller study found that 20 minutes of yoga improved the focus and working memory of its participants.
Then on the more ‘mindset’ side of things, the meditation app Headspace also confirmed that their research suggests that the frequency of meditation is more influential than the duration of the meditation.
Form Habits With Shorter Sessions
As you can see, the evidence actually is rather overwhelming. Reaping the benefits of yoga essentially comes down to how often you practice rather than how long you practice for. So, if you only have 20 minutes in the day, you only expect 20-minute sessions from yourself.
This is also a much easier way to form a habit. Because yoga needs to be frequent to be effective, you’re going to want the practice to become habitual to you. Something that you do as part of your routine without even thinking about it. Like brushing your teeth.
And one of the main warriors people face for not keeping up this habit is time and motivation. According to behavioral scientists, we are more likely to be consistent with smaller behaviors and form them into habits.
Therefore, opting for smaller, more manageable yoga sessions over longer sessions could be the perfect way to form the habit.
60 minutes of yoga can seem off-putting and you may avoid doing so for several days whereas you’re much more likely to be motivated to get through your yoga session if it seems like a much smaller and less time-consuming task.
And there you have it! The evidence is clear. No more post-yoga-session guilt because you could only manage 20 minutes rather than a full hour. There is tons of research out there that proves that 20 minutes of yoga is more than enough for you to start seeing those benefits.
And if nothing else, it also makes forming the habit of daily yoga practice so much easier. So, don’t get too stressed out about just how long your sessions are, and remember that participating in yoga frequently is much more important.
We all have busy lives, and that’s okay, just fit your sessions in when you can and you’ll be sure to reap all the rewards.
- Ultimate Guide to Yoga Strap Stretching: 12 Poses for Flexibility - September 15, 2023
- Phalakasana or Kumbhakasana – Plank Pose - September 13, 2023
- All About Iyengar Poses: Beginner to Advanced Guide - September 11, 2023