Advice From a Yogi: Do Less Yoga?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t love yoga… at least, not ALL the time. I know, I know. As a yoga teacher, I probably shouldn’t be admitting this publicly.

Or should I?

A lot of folks out there think of yoga as “all-or-nothing.” There’s a common misconception that you either love it more than anything, eschewing all other forms of exercise… or you regard it as too slow, ineffective, and “not enough action.”

The thing is, when I first fell in love with yoga, I did it religiously. It felt great!

Then, during instructor training, I had to complete at least 500 hours of practice. After that, all I wanted to do was MORE YOGA, so I could get stronger and better at my craft.

But the old saying that “too much of anything isn’t good” rings true for yoga as well.

It may not be true for everyone, but I quickly found that it’s quite possible to overdo it.

After a couple weeks with 2- or 3-a-day sessions of 60-90 minute yoga (a mix of both hot and cold styles), I found myself feeling physically run down, depleted, and just plain worn out.

I didn’t want to over-exert my body. But more than that, I didn’t want to lose the initial passion I felt for the practice.

These days, in addition to teaching somewhere between 3-10 sessions per week, I engage in 1-3 classes for personal benefit.

The rest of the time, I’m out at the climbing gym, hiking to alpine lakes to fly fish, and jumping on the trampoline with my two young kids.

I have found, with physical fitness, it’s really best to mix it up.

And don’t get me wrong here: I’m NOT saying “don’t do yoga.” I firmly believe yoga is for EVERYONE… precisely because it stretches, strengthens, and brings a very necessary, healthy balance to a hardcore cardio regimen.

Into sweaty, heart-racing workouts? That’s great! Yoga can help increase flexibility and range of motion, helping to strengthen bones and prevent injury for runners, cyclists, crossfit’ers, and parents constantly chasing after children.

My wife, who’s more of a trail runner, does yoga at least once each week to tone her muscles and head off injury. My good buddy does yoga as a complement to summertime water sports, like surfing and river boarding.

And if yoga truly is your workout of choice? That’s great, too. But I highly recommend adding in some sort of cardio.

Even notorious free climber Alex Honnold adds yoga to his strengthening routine, reasoning that if you regularly put any amount of force on your muscles, it logically follows that you ought to exert an opposing, pulling force as well.

(Watch Free Solo on Hulu to learn more… and be sure to block out an entire afternoon, because you’ll definitely wanna follow it with Meru, another award-winning film from Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi).

So, there you have it. My personal philosophy on yoga in a nutshell.

Do I love the practice? Absolutely.

Do I recommend it as your ONLY form of exercise? Nope.

As with most things in life, yoga is all about balance. Peppered in among a host of other types of fitness, I guarantee* it’ll enhance your experience, making your other pursuits that much more enjoyable.

New to yoga and curious what gear you might need? Check out this post!

Please note: I am not a medically trained professional. Please seek the advice of a professional before undertaking yoga or any other physical fitness pursuit.

*And please don’t hold me to the guarantee that yoga will make your life better – only you can do that.

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