How Long Should Yoga Poses Be Held?


How Long Should Yoga Poses Be Held?

When you’re first kicking off a new yoga practice, you’re just getting the hang of all the different poses. Depending on your practice, you might struggle with holding your pose. We’ve all been in those moments where we’ve counted down the seconds before a pose was done. But, is it really good to hold a pose for so long?

How long should yoga poses be held? Most yogis suggest starting off by holding a pose for 10 to 12 breaths. With extra practice, you can hold a pose for as long as three minutes without any negative issues. 

How long a pose gets held is a personal matter, as well as a goal-related matter. Before you start worrying about the length of your yogic posing, let’s take a look at what experts have to say.

How Long Should Yoga Poses Be Held?

The length of a yoga pose can vary greatly depending on your strength, the type of yoga it is, and your skill. Generally speaking, the longer you can comfortably hold a pose, the better your practice will be. 

The general rule of thumb for popular types of yoga-like vinyasa is to hold your pose for 10 to 12 deep breaths. That being said, when you’re first beginning, you should only hold your pose for a couple of seconds. As you get better, the length of time will change.

That being said, the part of your body that you’re stretching can matter just as much. 

How Long Is “One Breath” In Yoga?

When you hear yogis talking about holding a pose for a single breath, they mean a long, deep breath—both the inhale and the exhale. A single breath will take around two to three seconds, depending on your own timing.  

How Does Yoga Type Change Posing Times?

Each yoga flow has its own traits and perks. Knowing what kind of flow you’re doing can help you understand how long a pose should be held, and what you should expect to gain. Though each flow has its own rhythm, these general guidelines below can help:

  • Vinyasa yoga is meant to flow from one pose to another fairly rapidly. Holding a pose isn’t exactly a “thing” in this yoga category. 
  • Hatha yoga is all about building flexibility and requires longer pose times. Holding a pose for longer can help you gain flexibility faster. This is why most Hatha yoga practitioners try to hold their poses for two to five minutes a piece.
  • Yin yoga and restorative yoga are about passive stretching. You should expect to passively hold these poses for more than five minutes. With restorative yoga, pose length could be shortened to three minutes.
  • Ashtanga yoga requires a minimum of five breaths per pose. It might be short, but yogis find it to be extremely challenging nonetheless. 
  • The full 26-pose traditional flow of Bikram yoga will take 90 minutes. Poses can vary in times from 10 seconds to one minute, depending on what you’re trying to do. 

How Does Body Parts Focus Change Pose Length?

Some parts of your body will need a longer time to stretch than others. If you’re unsure of how long it takes to get the full benefits of your practice in more taxing stretches, check out these guidelines below:

  • Hamstring stretches take five to six breaths to fully work. This will be enough to get your body stretched.
  • Pelvic rotations and flexes can take one to two minutes. This is more than enough time to get your spine feeling amazing. 
  • Passive stretches through any part of the body should be kept around two to three minutes at a minimum. Passive stretches involve relaxing the body into your pose. If you’re not actively stretching and engaging your core, you can keep this for minutes without issue.
  • Cat-Cow alternations tend to be done for two to three minutes at a time. This classic flow goes from breath to breath, for as long as three minutes. 
  • Active stretches are rarely if ever, held for more than three minutes. It’s possible to get a good flow going without actually holding the pose. 

These simple guidelines can help, but they can only so far. The truth is that there isn’t any “one size fits all” explanation to how long a yoga pose should be held. 

The Best Advice For Yoga Pose Length

If you’re new too yoga, it’s best not to try and create your own flow. Beginners are far better off going to a yoga class or using an online yoga video to guide their practice. Trained yoga instructors will be more capable of discerning yoga posing times and transitions than a casual practitioner would be. 

In other words, if you’re not sure what to do, just follow what the experts tell you to do, and listen to your body.

Why Do Some Yogis Hold Poses For Longer Periods Of Time?

With most poses, the longer you hold them, the more you end up pushing yourself. Holding a yoga pose for an extended amount of time can help improve flexibility and bolster strength. For athletes who are trying to improve flexibility, prolonged poses can add a short cut to the goal they’re aspiring to.

What If You Can’t Hold The Pose As Long As You’d Hoped?

Though there are general guidelines people can use to try to hold a pose, the most important input you should pay attention to is the one that comes from your body. It’s important to remember that yoga should not be painful. 

If you notice signs of unusual discomfort, pain, or dizziness, stop holding your pose and take a quick break. This is a sign that you’re pushing your body too far. If you continue to push your body, you will end up causing serious injury to yourself. 

Should You Stop Practicing Yoga If Holding Poses Hurts?

If you find yourself having to take regular breaks, you might feel like yoga isn’t for you. This isn’t true! If anything, the fact that you have to take regular breaks should prove to you why you need to stick to your practice. 

The longer you practice yoga, the more yoga will benefit you. You’ll start to see your strength improve. You’ll become more flexible, and your ability to endure each pose will increase little by little. After a while, your progress will make it possible to hold the pose for the recommended amount of time…and more!

How Frequently Can You Practice Yoga?

This, too, depends on the type of yoga that you want to do. A healthy practice will involve doing yoga three to five times per week. With gentler flows, a long-term practitioner can work his or her way up to twice per day. 

That being said, having adequate rest is a must if you want to be able to recover. Not resting after you had strenuous yoga sessions can increase your risk of a sports injury. If the feeling of soreness after your workout is there, rest until you no longer feel it. That’s the only way to ensure that you’re fully recovered.

Understanding Yoga Posing

The practice of yoga is one that tends to be personal, even if the practice itself isn’t about your emotional state. Every body is different and will have different levels of tolerance when it comes to holding a pose. 

The best way to figure out how long a yoga pose should be held is to listen to your body and the instructor. As you become acclimated to the practice, you’ll be able to feel when the right timing is for you. 

Dakota Carroll

Yoga have been a part of Dakota's life for 10+ years. Her practice has helped her grow stronger, more flexible and fearless. Dakota encourages her students to be creative and challenge the body. She seeks to inspire every student to feel refreshed, nourished and balanced both on and off the mat.

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