Is A Weekly Frequency Of Yoga Enough?

June 11, 2024
Is A Weekly Frequency Of Yoga Enough?

Weekly frequency of yoga may be enough to offer some benefits

Research Study At A Glance

The Research Question Asked

Is a weekly frequency of yoga practice enough to have beneficial health and wellness effects?

Type of Study

Clinical trial

Study Participants (Sample)

Total sample included 82 participants (49 participants in yoga group; 33 people in control)

  • Mean age was 22 ± 3.83 years
  • All participants were female
  • No participants had prior yoga experience

Methods

Researchers measured aspects of balance, flexibility, strength, body composition, and physiology for both a yoga treatment group and a control group who did no yoga. Yoga participants completed one 90-minute yoga class once per week for 10 weeks. Researchers collected measurements from both groups one week before the start of the study and one week after they completed the study.

Results

Some measurements of balance, torso stability, and flexibility positively increased after ten weeks of weekly yoga practice.

Conclusion

A weekly frequency of yoga for ten weeks positively affected some aspects of balance, abdominal strength, and flexibility for beginning yoga participants, but had no effect on other wellness metrics.

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Background

Yoga is a very popular movement activity with a wide variety of physical and psychological health and wellness benefits. Research supports yoga’s positive impacts on strength, flexibility, balance, reduced stress, and increased general psychological well-being among other benefits. However, compared to other health and wellness research topics, exploring yoga’s benefits in a research context is fairly recent. This means that, from a research perspective, we’re still learning what specific effects yoga has.

As researchers complete more studies evaluating yoga’s effects, the research community has suggested there are ways that yoga-related studies could provide more valuable information. For example, many yoga research studies have not included specific information about what the yoga treatment consisted of. Yoga styles are highly variable in their intensity, intentions, and emphasis. Additionally, yoga classes and interventions vary in their duration and weekly frequency. This makes it difficult to generalize what the effects of yoga are.

It makes sense that a variable like the frequency of weekly yoga practice would potentially impact what effects the practice has. Classically, the yoga texts all recommend a consistent daily practice. Our research study here at yoganatomy.com supports the idea that participants experience greater benefits from a consistent practice of five or more days per week. However, contemporary yoga is often done within the context of a class, and there are many potential barriers to attending a yoga class daily. Family and work commitments may not leave time for daily yoga. Additionally, the cost of classes and the time required to travel to a studio can prevent attending daily classes.

The research study we summarize in this article was particularly interested in the question of the effects of practice frequency on yoga’s benefits. Specifically, they wondered whether attending classes on only a weekly frequency would still have benefits for practitioners. Since it’s very common for yoga participants to attend yoga classes only once per week, the researchers’ question about the relationship between a weekly frequency of yoga and its effects is a very relevant one. Keep reading to find out more about what they learned.

Research question

Is a weekly frequency of yoga practice enough to have beneficial health and wellness effects?

Research methods

The research team recruited a group of healthy females with no previous yoga experience for their study. Participants elected to participate in either the yoga group or the control group. There were 49 participants in the yoga group with an average age of 21.49 ± 2.3 years old. There were 33 participants in the control group with an average age of 22.75 ± 5.32 years old.

The yoga group participated in yoga classes once per week for 10 weeks. The yoga classes were beginner-level Hatha yoga style of class. Each class was 90 minutes long. Each yoga session included a breath and body awareness practice, postures from all major categories of asanas, and ended with relaxation. The control group did no yoga.

The researchers took measurements from both the yoga and control groups at two points during the study. They collected baseline measurements one week before the yoga study began. They took final measurements one week after the yoga study was completed. The only exception to that was the measurements for the plank test to evaluate abdominal muscle strength. Those measurements were taken for only the yoga group at the beginning of the first and last yoga class.

Measurements for all study participants (yoga group and control) included:

  • Body mass index
  • Body weight
  • Body fat percentage
  • Static balance measured with the one-leg-stand stork test
  • Static balance was also measured with the functional reach test
  • Flexibility measured with the side bend test
  • Flexibility was also measured with the modified sit and reach test
  • Heart rate
  • Heart rate variability
  • Calories consumed

Results

  • The results of the one-leg-stand test with open eyes, the side bend test, and the sit and reach test all increased in the yoga group after the 10-week yoga program, but decreased in the control group.
  • Abdominal muscle strength as measured by the plank test increased in yoga participants from baseline to after the 10-week yoga program.
  • There were no effects of the 10-week yoga program on body mass index, body fat percentage, one-leg-stand test with closed eyes, functional reach test, resting heart rate, or heart rate variability.

Why is this relevant to yoga practitioners?

While many of us may set the intention to do a consistent daily yoga practice as recommended by the sutras, the reality is we are busy people with many responsibilities and obligations on our time. In trying to balance our life between family, work, friends, hobbies, and fitness goals, we can easily overschedule ourselves. And increasing our sense of being overwhelmed with commitments is definitely not the purpose of yoga. So this research study that examines the effects of weekly frequency of yoga speaks to the vast majority of yoga participants who do yoga alongside many other things.

Attending a once-a-week yoga class is common for many yoga participants who are balancing their interest in yoga with other activities. Examining the effects of a weekly frequency of yoga adds important information for those who want to know what the benefits might be compared to a more frequent yoga practice. It allows yoga participants to make a more informed decision about how often they want to practice yoga. It also helps provide realistic expectations for what kinds of benefits weekly yoga might provide compared to a more frequent practice.

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Conclusion

Once-a-week yoga classes had some positive benefits for health and wellness compared to a control group who did not do yoga. Some tests for balance, abdominal strength, and flexibility increased for yoga participants after only ten weeks of a weekly yoga class. This suggests that a little bit of yoga is still beneficial. However, other health and wellness metrics were not affected by this frequency of yoga. So, for those looking for more of the potential benefits that yoga can offer, a greater frequency of practice may be needed.

Reference citation

Csala, B., R. Szemerszky, J. Kormendi, F. Koteles, and S. Boros. 2021. Is weekly frequency of yoga practice sufficient? Physiological effects of Hatha yoga among healthy novice women. Frontiers in Public Health. 9:702793; 10pgs.