Being busy has become the default state for so many of us, and for better or worse, this has caused yoga practitioners and yoga teachers to shorten their yoga practices.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend three days filming classes for YogaGlo.com, which had me on my yoga mat for an extensive 4 hours a day. From those long hours of yoga, I was reminded of the profound difference between a short yoga practice and a long one. If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you’ve probably noticed that the once standard 90-minute yoga class is now antiquated and is slowly being replaced by the 60-minute class.Of course it’s better to get a short 10-60 minute practice in each day than to do no yoga at all. Even a ten minute practice can shift you and you’ll feel better for sure. However, there is something about longer practices—those lasting 90 minutes or more—that is absolutely transformational. These can include weekend or evening yoga workshops, retreats, or trainings.
When I walked into YogaGlo for that long stint of yoga ahead of me, I’d been feeling run down and frustrated with my living situation and the state of the world, stressed from travel, beyond irritable. Yes, even yoga teachers have bad days, weeks, and years! My practices up until then had been truncated in favor of pressing deadlines, long teaching hours, and the launch of my new book. What had suffered most in all the busyness was not just my yoga practice, but my mindset.
After just two days of these longer practices, I had an epiphany, which in some ways is a big “duh”: It occurred to me that the short “fit-it-in-when-you-can” practices had been great, but they were not serving me in the same way. Long hours on the mat shifted my outlook on life dramatically. The things that had been so difficult and oppressive seemed to melt away. Instead of feeling like a victim, I felt like handling my life’s challenges would be far less overwhelming.
My body started adjusting to doing that much yoga as well. I didn’t get sore. It was almost as though by practicing that much all at once, my body rallied and rose to the occasion! In fact, my body felt better than it had in months.It makes sense that a longer practice would cause these benefits. The longer you are on your mat, the more time you have to build up prana (life force energy) and the more your muscles warm and get used to toning and stretching through the poses. Your respiratory system also has a chance to expand and revitalize for that much longer. Furthermore, if you teach yoga, the more you can practice and develop this vibrant body and expanded mindset, you will inspire your students to follow your lead. As you grow, they will grow also. Try to commit to 1 or 2 longer practices per week, and I believe you will see your personal and professional life become radiant.
Amy Ippoliti is the co-author of the new book, The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga. She is known for bringing yoga to modern-day life in a genuine way through her intelligent sequencing and engaging sense of humor. She shares her passion for yoga, health, and earth conservation through her writings and underwater imagery with marine animals. A teacher on YogaGlo.com, she’s a pioneer of advanced yoga education, co-founding 90 Monkeys, an online and in-person school for yoga teachers in 65 countries. amyippoliti.com | YogaGlo.com