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The Value of a Six Day a Week Practice

ashtanga method practice six days a week Jun 04, 2018

A student recently told me she was feeling burned out and wondered why we practice 5-6 days a week in the Ashtanga system.

In a nutshell, I think the answer is transformation. But I’ll give you some of the details.

When we practice 6 days a week we get the opportunity to learn faster. By repeating asanas and vinyasas on a daily basis we are able to memorize more quickly — both in our minds and our bodies. When you practice 6 days a week it can help prevent injury because your body becomes more accustomed to the movement and you become more aware of what your body can and cannot tolerate — which of course lends itself to progress in the poses.

Your body will acclimate to the practice more quickly if you practice consistently. Your flexibility and strength increase at a faster rate with a daily practice. Its easier to adopt a daily routine that you can stick to. You’ll find going to bed early and waking up early enough to practice easier when you do it consistently. This is especially true when you are new to the practice — every time you deviate from the practice for more than a few days you are basically restarting the clock — physically and mentally.

But I think the most important reason for practicing 6 days a week is that it teaches us to show up. Without excuses, and usually without exception. With anything in life the secret is to begin. And we begin by showing up.

Sure, we all have obstacles to the practice. We get tired, have jobs, children, pets, bosses, partners and other demands on our time. It’s important to honor these as well. But most days, we can find 10 minutes for surya namaskara or a seated practice — and this counts as showing up.

A 6 day a week practice takes some of the glorification out of the practice and makes it more of a discipline. It’s what differentiates a devoted yoga practice from a hobby or exercise regime. If your practice is devotional, then you should do it everyday by definite of devotion. It’s also where the idea of practice as a metaphor for life begins. 

When you are committed to a 6 day a week practice you show up when you don’t want to. You show up when its hard. You show up when you feel less than 100%. If you only show up when its convenient to you — when you feel good, or when you slept well, or when you ate appropriately, then you are avoiding discomfort and some of the important inner work of yoga.

But when you commit to showing up — even when you don’t want to — then you are making a commitment to transformation. You are demonstrating a commitment to inner work. To learning to become comfortable with discomfort. To showing up for the things that matter in your life and allocating your resources so that you can do the things that are truly a priority to you. This is what takes you away from yoga as a hobby and toward yoga as a lifestyle.

Showing up 6 days a week doesn’t ‘have to exhaust you. There are always options available to you. You can modify your practice to suit your needs on any given day. You can do less — or more — as is appropriate for you. Your practice is YOUR practice - it can meet you where you are.

I always encourage students to practice at 70% of their capacity. Practicing at 100% capacity is how people get burned out and literally, maxed out. When you are maxed out you don’t leave yourself room to grow. When I practice at 100% I am usually so sore for the next few practices that I have to scale it back. Whereas if I consistently practice at 70% I find that my maximum capacity continues to grow and before I know it my 70% is where my 100% used to be. It's a consistent upward trajectory.

We have built in rest days in the practice. Full moon, new moon, ladies holiday and the weekly rest day. Use these days as an opportunity for your body to recuperate. 

Ultimately, you want your practice to energize you — not deplete you. This is how you practice for the long haul.

Check out my online courses and programs here.

Read what my co-practitioner Iggy had to say on the topic here.

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About Jen René

Hey there! I'm a dedicated Ashtanga teacher and fourth series practitioner. I'm also a Pilates enthusiast. I taught my first class in 2005. And since then I have learned lots of amazing tricks that can help you on your own yoga journey.


Connect with Me! @jenreneyoga