New yoga practitioners often ask me, “Which is better? Breath linking flows with only one breath, or a longer time in a pose, say three to five breaths.”
This can be a tough question and there is no single right answer. There are so many styles and lineages of yoga. Different philosophies have different purposes for doing things. And that is really what it comes down to in your practice. What is your goal? How long have you been practicing? What is your body needing today?
Since there are so many different ways to practice, your goal is central. Is your goal relaxation? Then longer held breaths may be the way to go. Practicing a flow may get you revved up and be the opposite of what you are looking for. Or, maybe your goal is relieving aches and pains due to your workday. Longer held poses will serve you better as you find the imbalances in your tissue and bring relief to your muscles.
The next question is how long you’ve been practicing. If you are new to yoga, it is important to give yourself time to adapt to the practice and work through the alignment of the poses. In this case, longer held poses may serve you better.
That leads to the last question, what is your body needing today? There are many classes I’ve gone to that are power flows. Upon arriving, I’ve struggled and been agitated in practice. It turns out, a heated, energized flow was not what I needed that day. As I gave myself grace to slow down, breath and even cry, I found what I really needed…to slow down and connect with myself.
As you can see, with yoga, there isn’t a particular method that’s better than another. There is only different. It is really about figuring out which difference is going to serve you better where you are. Lastly, which style is going to serve your students the best where they are, that day. That is really the ultimate goal of yoga, to connect. With yourself, with your maker, with others.
Jonnie Goodmanson is a Senior Trainer for Holy Yoga Global®, LLC. Jonnie leads HYG’s core programs including their 200-hour Teacher Training, Master’s Program, Touch Training, and Trauma Sensitive Yoga Certification with an emphasis on injury modification and anatomy and physiology. Jonnie is a continuing education provider for Yoga Alliance and ACE Fitness. She teaches yoga at Lifetime Fitness and Mainstreet Church in Mound, MN. You can read more about Jonnie’s role at www.holyyoga.net.