Many students ask the same question and ultimately, it depends (On a variety of things).
The Style Of Yoga You Study
Each type of yoga has its poses and sequences, they also have their own purposes. Restorative yoga for example has a relaxation focus so you could end up holding poses for as long as 20 minutes. However in Kundalini, where you are constantly moving to release the spirit energy you may expect to hold poses for a short time.
Each yoga teacher is different and may practise slightly differently, so they may get you to hold poses for different lengths of times or breathing counts. If you are uncertain of the holding times while in the care of your teacher, talk to them after class.
The Pose Itself
There are some poses, you would only want to hold for a few seconds because of the nature of the pose. Sukhasana, a sitting pose for example, is noted for being uncomfortable so many struggle to close their eyes and sit for longer than a minute.
The Person and Their Physical Fitness
If you are just starting out and are a beginner you will find it harder to hold some poses for a long time, saying that there are some experts who find it difficult to hold particular poses for a long time due to the nature of them. If your fitness is poor and you are trying to improve your strength and general fitness you may find you start by holding for 30 seconds and gradually increase that time depending on the type of yoga you are doing. Take prenatal yoga as an example, it is aimed at mothers at all stages of their pregnancy in the hope of keeping their muscles strong to allow them to go back to normal after pregnancy.
As you can imagine what they achieve depends on the individual and how their pregnancy is going. If they have a lot of pain, some poses will be more tolerable than others and some will be near impossible even if they do have pregnancy in mind. Another popular use of yoga is for building strength after injury as part of physiotherapy, so again it depends on the person and what they can do.
In conclusion, the answer really it ‘it depends’ but you may find that some poses are held for 10 maybe 20 or 30 seconds whereas others may be held for 5 minutes and even longer than that. There are many variables and the biggest one is you.
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