How Many Hours Do Yogis Practice?

Yogis are essentially experts at yoga, so they naturally practice yoga more than most. Being a yogi means committing to your practice in mind, body, and spirit. Yoga is a very personal journey, so the time spend by yogis practicing can vary.

The number of hours that a yogi practices is determined by lifestyle and location. On average, a yogi in the Western world may practice as little as three to five hours a week. However, a strict adherent that has more time for yoga may practice upwards of twelve hours per week.

If you’re interested in becoming a yogi and you’re curious as to how many hours you’ll need to dedicate to your practice, stick around. If you know a yogi and you’re wondering how much they commit to their practice, this article is for you too. Keep reading for more information on how many hours yogis practice.

How Many Hours Do Yogis Practice?

Since there is no predetermined way to become a yogi, there is no set number of hours that a yogi must practice. To be considered a yogi, one must be proficient in the physical aspects of yoga.

An hour-long practice three times a week is where most new yogis begin, but you can adjust the number of hours that you practice as desired.

Once you have reached an advanced level of practice, the main goal becomes practicing often enough to retain proficiency and develop your skills. For some, that means devoting several hours per day to the practice of yoga.

For others, that means a couple of hours per week. Methodical and consistent practice is the key to becoming a yogi, so practice as often and regularly as you can.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Yogi?

Mastering the poses and breathing may take longer for some than for others. For the average person, it takes about three years to become proficient in yoga. Being a yogi is more about the journey than the destination, so don’t fret if it takes you longer than that to feel like a yoga master.

What Makes Someone a Yogi?

Yogis come from many different backgrounds, and each one has a different lifestyle. A busy mom and an isolated hermit lead the very different day to day lives; however, each may be considered a yogi.

On the most basic level, a yogi is defined as someone who is committed to the practice of yoga. Does this mean that your cousin that does hot yoga twice a week is a yogi? Not necessarily.

Defining a yogi as someone who does yoga poses erases the complex history of yoga. Yoga is more than exercise – it is a physical and philosophical practice that is designed to bring peace and harmony to the life of the practitioner.

Therefore, a better definition of a yogi would be someone that uses yoga to harness the power of the body and mind.

Most Westerners are only familiar with the physical aspects of yoga – the asana (physical poses) and pranayama ( breathing exercises). These aspects of yoga are incredibly beneficial on their own, strengthening both body and mind.

However, to gain the full experience of regular yoga practice, you need to understand the entire philosophical system in which the physical practice of yoga is rooted.

What’s Included in a Yogi’s Practice?

Being a yogi goes beyond knowing the poses. The amount of time each yogi spends practicing depends on how they’ve developed the foundation of their practice. This is all based on the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga or ashtanga were first written about thousands of years ago, in a text called the Yoga Sutra.

The Yoga Sutra, written by Sage Patanjali, contains over 196 Sutras that discuss the practice and philosophy of yoga. These sutras outline how to achieve freedom and enlightenment through discipline and practice.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga are:

  1. Yama
  2. Niyama
  3. Asana
  4. Pranayama
  5. Pratyahara
  6. Dharana
  7. Dhyana
  8. Samadhi

To become a yogi, the practice of yoga must become more than rote exercise; it must become your moral compass and grounding tool. While strict adherence to the ashtanga is not always feasible for the average person, an understanding of what they are and their importance will help guide you on the path to becoming a yogi.

Yama

The Yamas are the first and most important of the ashtanga. The five Yamas are social restraints, and they act as a guidebook for how you interact with the world around you.

These virtues come first, even before practicing the asanas, because the outward changes that they bring shape the internal transformation that you are about to undergo.

The Five Yamas:

  1. Ahimsa (non-violence) is the first and most important of the Yamas. While physical harm is frowned upon, violence also means being causing emotional hurts, no matter how small. Practicing Ahisma is a crucial step to achieve balance and harmony, and if you incorporate no other element of Yogic philosophy into your daily life, try to practice Ahisma. Be gentle, compassionate, and understanding with those around you.
  2. Satya (truthfulness) comes from the word Sat, which means ‘true essence.’ This means that Satya is more than simply not telling lies; it means staying true to yourself, being direct and honest in your day to day life.
  3. Asteya (non-stealing) is not taking more than you need. This principle can be applied literally, meaning that a yogi does not take something that doesn’t belong to them. It also means that one should not hoard more than what they need or more than their share of resources.
  4. Brahmacharya (Continence) is the most contentious of the Yamas since traditionally, the word is interpreted as celibacy or chastity. However, a better interpretation would be the ‘right use of energy.’ This Yama is about becoming unconcerned with worldly desires and instead focusing your energy on actions that help you attain enlightenment.
  5. Aparigraha (non-covetousness) is closely linked with Asteya, non-stealing. Aparigraha means eliminating the desire for what other people have.

Niyama

The Niyamas are self-disciplines or observances. Where the Yamas are principles that teach you how to treat others, the Niyamas govern how you treat yourself. They are less a set of rules and more a set of values to guide you on the path of enlightenment.

The Five Niyamas:

  1. Saucha (Cleanliness) brings order and discipline to the body and living space. Living in a clean and organized environment creates peace of mind and is proven to make people feel calmer. Purification of the body is necessary for mental and physical wellness. This Niyama is sometimes interpreted as only allowing wholesome and positive things into your life.
  2. Santosha (Contentment) means finding peace in your day to day life. Embracing Santosha teaches you to be content with what you have and who you are. It is deeply connected to the Yama Asteya (non-stealing) since it is focused on being happy with what you have and who you are.
  3. Tapas (Discipline) also means ‘burning passion or enthusiasm’ and reflects the vigor that studying yoga brings. It is crucial to have the discipline to practice regularly and to be mindful of how you treat yourself and others. To cultivate this discipline, you will need to be very passionate about yoga and the good that it can bring to your life.
  4. Svadhyaya (Self- Study) is the study of both self and the texts. While practicing this Niyama, the yogi reflects upon themselves and truly learns about themself as a person, as well as a microcosm of the Divine. They also study the Yogic Texts and other sacred works to deepen their practice.
  5. Ishvara Pranidhana (Surrender to a higher power) is the final Niyama. This observance is an essential difference between exercise and the actual practice of yoga as a spiritual system. Every step taken from this point is in pursuit of a connection with the Divine.

Asana

Usually, when people talk about yoga, what they are referring to are the asanas. The asanas are the movements and poses that help to strengthen the body and purify the mind.

Performing these regularly will build endurance and increase concentration. They will instill discipline and help steady the mind.

There are many different types of yoga, each with their benefits. Make sure you choose a style that is compatible with your goals as a yogi, preferable with an instructor that is on the same path.

If you are unsure what style is best for you, use this guide to the different types of yoga to find what will work for you.

Pranayama

Pranayama, or breath control, is the fourth limb. Breath is considered the life force, and learning to control the life force helps you understand the connection between body and mind.

As you learn to regulate your breath, you learn to control your mind and keep your emotions in check. You can hone these techniques during your asana practice, daily meditation, or on its own.

Pratyahara

The fifth limb is sensory withdrawal. Pratyahara encourages creating distance between ourselves and the external world, turning our attention inward.

This focus on the inner self allows us to observe ourselves objectively and examine our fears, deficiencies, and other things that keep us from reaching enlightenment.

Pratyahara is deeply connected to themes of self-denial since you are unlearning the urge to give in to your every desire.

Fasting is a standard tool used to aid in sensory withdrawal because it teaches you to set aside your physical needs. As with any dietary change, consult a health professional before you begin a fast.

Dharana

The last three limbs of yoga are called the Samyama. They are the pathway to enlightenment and may take years to understand. The first of these is Dharana, which means concentration or focus.

Where Pratyahara focused on removing physical distractions, Dharana focuses on becoming unfettered mentally.

This ashtanga teaches us how to quiet our internal monologue and become completely in control of our bodies and minds. Mantras, chanting, and visualization will help you to quiet the mind.

Dhyana

Dhyana, the seventh limb, means meditation. Most people are familiar with the concept of meditation, and you may already be in the habit of meditating regularly.

Dhyana is a special kind of meditative state that can only be reached after you’ve learned to clear your mind of internal and external distractions.

Practicing meditation in the sequence of the Eight Limbs of Yoga teaches you to control your body and the breath, which in turn helps you to steady the mind. It may take some time to enter this state, so give yourself plenty of time to meditate.

This type of hyper-focused meditation is difficult to sustain, so don’t feel frustrated if you have trouble reaching or staying in Dhyana.

Samadhi

Samadhi, the final ashtanga, is a state of ecstasy where the practitioner transcends self and achieves a state of bliss. It is a connection to the Divine that is reached through meditation.

Yogis can only reach this state after they have learned to control how they treat themselves and others, as well as how to free their body and mind from distraction. This is a difficult task, and you should not be frustrated if you struggle to reach this state.

Samadhi is not a permanent state, nor is it the end of the yogi’s journey. Improving oneself is the ultimate goal of the yogi. Therefore even if you reach Samadhi, you are still on a mission to better yourself, to practice loving those around you, and to live a life of true inner peace.

How Do You Become a Yogi?

Since there is no prescribed way to become a yogi, there is no set path to becoming a yogi. However, there are three steps to help you along the path – committing to your yoga practice, changing your lifestyle, and embracing the values taught in the Yoga Sutra.

Commit to the Practice

The first step to becoming a yogi is committing to your yoga practice. Find a way to hold yourself accountable, whether that be signing up and prepaying for a class, or having an accountability partner.

If you are beginning the transition from yoga as an exercise to yoga as a spiritual practice, find a qualified instructor to guide you on your journey.

Practice as often as possible to hone your skills. Try adding one practice a day until you are at your desired goal. Practicing at the same time every day will help you build the habit.

Make sure that you continue to challenge yourself, trying different flows, and even different types of yoga.

A consistent and systematic approach to your practice is essential, but make sure that you are still finding joy in the practice. If you are struggling to get on the mat, take a few days to recharge and refocus. Yoga is about balance, and achieving balance means acknowledging your unique needs, including the need for rest.

Change your Lifestyle

Engaging in breathing exercises and practicing asanas for hours will naturally increase flexibility and strengthen your body. However, a yogi understands that taking a holistic approach to personal wellness is equally important.

Care for the body will also improve your mental state. Aim for eight hours of sleep per night, drink enough water, and eat a well-balanced, nourishing diet.

Other choices -like vegetarianism, celibacy, and abstaining from drugs and alcohol- are deeply personal ones. Some yogis and scholars do not practice these things, citing the fact that the Yoga Sutra is thousands of years old, and do not need to be adhered to literally in the modern world. Some yogis do practice these because they aid in the practice of separating the self from worldly desires and help them stay focused.

The discipline that you cultivate with regular habits will extend to other areas of your life and will deepen your understanding of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Do not try to overwhelm yourself with changes, and be sure to speak with a health practitioner before making any changes to your diet.

Embrace Yogic Values and Philosophy

You cannot indeed be a yogi until you learn about the yogic values and incorporate them into your daily life. Familiarize yourself with the Yama and Niyama.

Start by practicing non-violence in your daily life and build up from there. With focus and discipline, these things will become part of who you are.

As you begin to change the way you treat the outside world and yourself, you will feel a change in how you view these things. However, embracing these values will not be easy and won’t happen overnight.

Spend time contemplating the Yoga Sutra to understand how the mental, physical, and spiritual elements are all connected. Reach out to your teacher for help in the areas in which you struggle.

Create a daily and weekly schedule that will keep you on track with your yogic journey. Make time to do breathing exercises, meditate or chant mantras, even on days that you don’t have time to practice the physical elements of yoga.

This will keep your mind focused and calm, especially on challenging days. The goal is not to be perfect, but to make meaningful, lasting changes that lead you towards enlightenment.

Final Thoughts

The amount of time a yogi spends practicing is very personal. It depends on their mastery of all aspects of yoga. The total amount of time yogis spend practicing should be enough to maintain proficiency and develop their skills. This usually means a minimum of 3 hours per week. However, incorporating yogic values into your lifestyle is more important than the simple practice of yoga. Make just as much time for contemplation of the Divine as you do for your asana flow.

Sources

Sita

Mother of three and Yogi of 20+ years and 200 Hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I am also a Certified Thai massage therapist and I have taught Gymnastics for more than 10 years. In the last couple of years, I've been a big promotor of intermittent fasting.

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