< Blog < Do Yoga < Yoga Basics < How Long Do You Hold Yoga Poses?

How Long Do You Hold Yoga Poses?

5 min read
a young woman is holding a yoga mat and a clock, smiling, how long do you hold yoga poses
Elyce Neuhauser post Reviewer Elyce Neuhauser post Reviewer
Verified by Elyce Neuhauser
Yoga Expert, E-RYT 500, Certified Meditation Coach

Table of Contents

It is quite common to be in the middle of a challenging posture and wonder, “How long do you hold yoga poses anyway?” Just like the rest of your practice, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to yoga holds. 

Discover just how long you should stay in yoga poses through the traditional yogic practice of breathing.

Breath and the Art of Holding Yoga Poses

One of the best ways to determine how long to hold yoga poses is through pranayama (breathwork).

Although there are many variations to explore within yoga postures and sequences, inhaling in and out through the nostrils is a perfectly appropriate way to begin.

  • Minimum Hold – 1 breath

These quicker holds of one pose on the inhale and another pose on the exhale, move a sequence along at a steady pace and are typical of a Vinyasa practice. For example, you’ll experience this rhythm during Sun Salutations and the movements of Cat Pose and Cow Pose. 

  • Short Hold – 1 to 3 breaths

This is an excellent option if you are looking for an upbeat practice but prefer a little more time to settle in to each pose.

  • Moderate Hold – 4 to 6 breaths

This is a sweet spot for yoga novices as this longer hold gives plenty of time to find proper alignment.

  • Long Hold – 7 breaths and longer

Yoga poses held for a long time are usually meant for stretching and lengthening. Finding stillness for more than a few breaths can lead to deeper relaxation. Some Restorative Yoga and Yin Yoga holds can even last for five to twenty minutes.

Benefits Of Minimum/Shorter Holds

  • Warm up the body before an intense workout
  • Popular for weight loss because of fast-paced movements
  • Enhance cardiovascular health by increasing the heart rate

Benefits Of Moderate Holds

  • Improve your overall practice by giving you enough time to learn how to do the pose correctly
  • Increase flexibility and mobility
  • Build strength, endurance, and balance during more active postures and transitions

Benefits Of Long Holds

  • Give you time to go inward and explore a deeper mind-body-soul connection
  • Help you to relieve stress and anxiety
  • Offer recovery from pain and soreness

Determine How Long to Hold a Yoga Pose

How Long to Hold Yoga Poses by Level

  • Beginner

Consider moderate holds that give you enough time to learn how to do the pose correctly. Long-held restorative postures with props, such as bolsters or blocks, are perfect for novice yogis, as well.

  • Intermediate

Explore minimum and shorter holds with familiar poses to add an aerobic challenge to your workout. Enjoy longer holds with advanced postures and restorative practices. Maintain medium holds when learning something new.

  • Advanced

Experienced yogis can explore a variety of holds, with the primary focus being inner listening. Determine which length of hold time suits your particular body and be mindful to adjust your practice if you have any injuries.

Use a yoga app to tailor your workouts to your level. Also, be sure to consider how often you are practicing yoga.

Different Holds for Different Practices

  • Hatha Yoga

Using breath practices as a base for controlled movements, Hatha yoga is great for beginners and generally incorporates a slower pace where postures may be held for two to five breaths.

  • Ashtanga Yoga

This is a classic style of yoga, consisting of six different series that must be mastered sequentially. Other than the Sun Salutations and connecting vinyasas, the poses in an Ashtanga practice are typically held for five breaths.

  • Vinyasa Yoga

This type of yoga offers flowing sequences that move from one pose to the next, oftentimes for only one breath.

  • Iyengar yoga 

With a strong emphasis on proper alignment, longer holds of up to one minute are common to give the practitioner time to get the most benefit out of a particular pose. 

  • Yin Yoga

A favorite for those who love yoga for stretching, this relaxed yet often intense style offers mostly seated or supine poses. They are typically held for three to five minutes.

  • Restorative Yoga 

Think of this style as yoga with a bolster. Props are an essential part of restorative practice and offer the most lengthy holds of most types of yoga – sometimes upwards of 10 minutes. 

What Are Your Goals?

  • Strength

Moderate holds in standing and balancing poses are a great way to build muscle tone.

  • Stretching & Flexibility

To increase flexibility, opt for moderate to long holds in Yin or Hatha Yoga. You can also use these postures as an effective cool-down for other workouts.

  • Relaxation

You can find rest and recovery through many yoga classes, but choose Yin or Restorative Yoga with their longer holds for the deepest relaxation.

  • Weight Loss

Choose classes like Ashtanga and Vinyasa with minimum and short holds if you want to shed some pounds. Try these weight-loss yoga poses to achieve your first results with yoga.

Can You Hold Yoga Poses for Too Long?

For those who want to challenge themselves during yoga and safely approach their edge in each pose, it is vital to recognize personal limits. 

The goal is to experience sensation – never pain.

Listen to your body and know that the appropriate depth and length of time in postures can feel different from day to day. Pay attention to your edges, and mindfully back out of any pose if you feel yourself straining or forcing. 

Wrapping Up

  • There are many considerations when addressing the question, “How long do you hold yoga poses?” such as level, style of yoga, and individual goals. 
  • Holds include minimum, short, moderate, and long.
  • Use breathwork when considering time spent in holds.
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

You may also like

We recommend reading