How Much Yoga Is Too Much Yoga?
Is there anything more satisfying than a muscle-massaging yoga flow that leaves your hips feeling like jelly and gives those tight shoulders the ability to flip into a backbend at any given moment? When you pair that feeling with the joy of walking down the street sipping on a delicious green smoothie, the answer to that question is probably no.
While having a regular yoga practice is one of the most grounding and important things you can do for yourself, there is such a thing as overdoing it. "Yoga, as a physical practice, can ideally be performed four to five times per week," says Miami-based yoga instructor Sara Quiriconi. "But do it less if it's complementing another form of activity or exercise like boxing or running. I personally practice daily, but most of those days my time on the mat spans anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes per day."
In other words, there is such a thing as yoga overkill. Here are four signs you're overdoing it with your practice.
Your joints and bones are feeling off.
Yesterday your wrists were a little achy during downward-facing dog, and now they just flat-out hurt. If you're experiencing new pain in your joints and bones, it may be time to take a few days off. "Physical signs of distress or fatigue, like a strain in a muscle, new pain between joints, bones, or tendons are all signs that you're doing too much," says Sara.
If you experience pain mid-practice, Sara advises yogis not to panic or try to push through the pain. Just take a restorative child's pose and breathe deeply.
You're missing out on life to practice yoga.
While we certainly understand the obsession with yoga, it becomes unhealthy once you start missing out on important activities. Think dates with your partner, happy hour with friends, or even work responsibilities.
"If your yoga practice is interfering with some aspect of your life, then it may be too much," explains psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo. "If you're doing yoga when you're ill or injured, or just feel mentally burned out, back off. If your yoga practice is a cause of tension in your relationships because, for example, you spend more time doing yoga than with your loved ones, that's a bit of a red flag. Remember, too much of a good thing is not a good thing."
You're experiencing muscle soreness that lasts more than a few days.
If your hamstrings are a little sore after an afternoon of forward folds and downward dog splits, that's normal—just check in and make sure your muscle soreness isn't lasting for days at a time.
"When muscle soreness lasts longer than a few days, it could be a sign that you are overdoing it," says Athena Bellmaine, DPT, of Professional Physical Therapy. "Noticeable swelling in your joints, which is a sign of inflammation, could be another indicator that the body is being overworked."
You're just flat-out tired.
If you've ever begrudgingly gone to yoga for the sixth day in a row because you told yourself you would only to find yourself feeling mentally and physically drained all class long, that's definitely a sign that you're doing too much yoga.
"While sometimes pushing through the tiredness and fatigue actually can make you feel awake and alive again, other times the body requires a slower paced practice, longer holds, and more floor work. If you're in a group class, this can mean modifying some of the postures, skipping the push-ups (I do this all the time, by the way), or taking child's pose anytime you feel like it."
Don't ignore the signs. When your body tells you it's time to take a rest day or two (or three or four), listen.
If you're looking for new ways to move more, check out the 17 most beautiful hikes in the world and find out how doctors actually work out.
Leigh Weingus is a New York City based freelance journalist and former Senior Relationships Editor at mindbodygreen where she analyzed new research on human behavior, looked at the intersection of wellness and women's empowerment, and took deep dives into the latest sex and relationship trends. She received her bachelor’s in English and Communication from the University of California, Davis. She has written for HuffPost, Glamour, and NBC News, among others, and is a certified yoga instructor.