Hatha yoga is an overarching term that encompasses all types of yoga that include movement or asanas. Most yoga classes in the western world fall into Hatha yoga practice. While how long you hold a pose will vary from pose to pose, most teachers recommend holding hatha yoga poses for about a minute at a time. However, your duration of a pose depends on the ultimate goal of your practice. Whether you are new to hatha yoga or are interested in learning more about the practice, here is an introduction to how long to hold hatha poses.
How Long to Hold Hatha Yoga Poses
Because hatha yoga encompasses a very broad category of poses, you may hold poses for varying amounts of time depending on what you are hoping to achieve. A great rule of thumb is to try to hold a pose for one minute, because this amount of time allows you to settle into a pose and reap the benefits of hatha yoga. However, you may want to hold a pose for more or less time depending on your goals.
Holding poses for longer than a minute:
Holding yoga poses for long durations of time can give you the chance to deepen your practice and clear your mind, and other reasons:
- To build strength: You may choose to hold a hatha yoga pose for longer than a minute to give your muscles a bit more of a workout. Holding strength-building poses such as chair pose or warrior II for over a minute will give you the chance to build strength and stamina. Be sure to start slow with holding poses for a long period of time, and not push your body too hard!
- To deepen your stretch: Lengthening the amount of time you hold a stretch for can help you move deeper into a pose or explore modifications.
- To focus on your shape: Taking more time in a pose also gives you the chance to explore how your body feels in that shape. For example, holding downward dog or other basic hatha yoga poses for over a minute will give you the opportunity to focus on your hips, shoulders, and other aspects of the pose rather than just taking a pose for a few breaths before moving.
- To ease your mind: In restful poses such as savasana, tadasana, and happy baby, holding them for over a minute enables you to embrace the physical benefits of the pose and make the most of this mental relaxation.
Holding poses for less than a minute:
While there are many benefits to lengthening your pose duration, you may also consider a few reasons to spend less time holding a pose. These reasons include:
- To keep up: If you are moving through a flow or vinyasa that incorporates a series of poses you may want to hold each pose for a shorter duration, typically between 5 and 20 seconds. Because flows bring together several poses into a sequence, practitioners will often hold each pose for under a minute in order to keep up with the flow.
- To rest: Some poses, especially power yoga poses, may be hard on your body or require over exerting your muscles if you hold them for a minute or more
- To be safe: If your body feels forced or uncomfortable in a shape