The Case for Longer Yoga Practices

I was talking with a yoga teacher friend of mine about my on-demand video library and she was surprised to hear that my most popular videos are the 60-minutes ones. Her students gravitate towards 20 or 30-minutes practices but they never watch her longer class videos.

Picture of an hourglass on a table

Even though my watch data might suggest otherwise, whenever I put out a call to solicit requests, folks regularly ask me for shorter classes.

I even find myself doing it. When I’m looking for a recorded online yoga practice, I often choose a shorter practice versus a longer one.

Why do we think we need shorter yoga classes?

When I first started practicing yoga in the late 1990’s, classes were 90 minutes long. Shorter classes just weren’t a thing.

This idea of a 90-minute class was so deeply ingrained that I clearly remember a near mutiny when a studio owner suggested 60-minute classes on the studio schedule. A compromise landed a few 75-minute classes on the schedule.

Fast forward 20 years, even before the pandemic, and some of the most popular classes on studio schedules were 45-minutes.

In the new online yoga era, 90 or even 75-minute classes are nearly impossible to find.

People are screen-ed out, I hear my yoga teacher colleagues say. No one wants long practices anymore.

I think it’s true that no one THINKS they want long practices. But I don’t think it’s because people are screened-out.

My excuse for selecting shorter online practices goes like this: I can only do 20 minute practice right now because I am SOOOO busy.

But then when I really think about it, what am I busy doing?

I have to hurry back to… what? Scrolling on Facebook or Insta? Answering “urgent” emails?

Does this sound familiar to you?

Before I go on, I want to be super clear. I’m not bashing TV or social media or telling you to stop using your phone for fun stuff. I mean, those freakin’ adorable puppy videos must be watched, amiright?

I’m just inviting you – like I invite you in every yoga class all of the time – to notice where you are placing your attention.

Consider what you do when you log off of your work computer at the end of the day.

Go on. I’ll wait.

So?

Are you looking at your phone? Or are you watching TV?

Because if you are still looking at a screen for something that is not your work, couldn’t you also turn on a screen to do a yoga class for an hour?

I’ve never once regretted doing a yoga class instead of literally anything else.

I can even say that about some of the worst yoga classes I’ve ever taken.

Believe me, I’ve taken more bad online yoga classes during this pandemic than in the whole of my past 20+ years of yoga practicing. That’s a whole other blog post for another time.

The longer I practice, the better I feel. It’s really simple, actually.

Have you ever heard this oft-quoted line about meditation? I don’t know who said it originally but it’s worth repeating here. It goes like this:

If you don’t have time for 20-minutes of meditation, you should be sitting for an hour.

That seems relevant for our yoga practices at large.

If we are so busy that we can’t set aside an hour for yoga, we probably need many hours of yoga. You know what I mean?

Here comes another invitation for your consideration:

Would you feel better if you committed to 60 or 90-minutes of yoga practice instead of squeezing in 20-minutes here and there?

Read this fantastic piece written by my friend Caitlin. It is right in line with my argument here that you need more time for your yoga practice. I think you’ll enjoy it.

And then, give this 60-minute Restorative Yoga practice a try. Let me know how you feel afterwards.



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