How Many Times Should I Repeat A Yoga Pose? (Important Considerations)

A common question from both new and experienced yogis is, “how many times should I repeat a yoga pose?”.

And the answer to that is as ambiguous and multifaceted as the question. It depends on several factors, such as your experience, goals, and your endurance.

To help you answer that question for yourself, first, let’s figure out what you actually mean.

You might wonder how often you should repeat a pose in one session or ask yourself how often you should practice an asana to keep making progress.

The first thing you should do is understand your intention.

Warm-Up and Wind-Down

moon salutation sequence

By design, yoga practice features a few sequences performed in sets. The most famous ones are Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar), Moon Salutations (Chandra Namaskar), and the Vinyasa sequence. And so, Surya and Chandra Namaskar are designed to be repeated until a certain goal is achieved.

For example, the Sun Salutation sequence is usually performed at the start of an energizing yoga session to awaken the body and prepare it for further movement and the more challenging yoga poses.

In contrast, the Moon Salutations are performed to help the body and mind relax and unwind at the end of the day. It is usually included as a part of slow-paced practice focusing on recovery and restoration.

As you can see, the goals are opposite of one another, yet the answer about how many times you should repeat these sequences is the same. Do it until you have achieved your goal, whether to energize or calm the body. Typically, you would include 3-5 repetitions of Sun or Moon Salutations if your goal is to continue with the practice.

Ritual or Tradition

ashtanga vinyasa yoga

Another reason poses or sequences may get repeated is to honor yogic tradition and challenge the body.

One such tradition is the practice of 108 Sun Salutations. 108 is considered a sacred number in Hinduism and Buddhism, which transcended into the yoga discipline. Number 108 represents feeling joyful and whole and crops up in many yogic practices.

108 Sun Salutations is a practice usually performed to commemorate a special event, such as an equinox or a solstice. It served the additional purpose of challenging and cleansing the body and mind through practice.

Another example takes place in Ashtanga Yoga practice. In Ashtanga, Sun Salutations are repeated five times, and the duration of asanas is defined as five breaths. As you can see, sometimes, the number of repetitions is defined by the specific practice you are participating in.

Asana Reset

Downward dog pose

In Ashtanga and other “flowing” yoga styles, a pose or a sequence may be used as a physical reset between asanas. Most commonly, the sequence used to “break up” the poses is Vinyasa, consisting of Plank Pose, Chaturanga, Upward Dog (or Cobra Pose), and Downward Facing Dog.

Other times, a single pose may be delegated as a “reset” asana, such as Downward Facing Dog, Mountain Pose, or Child’s Pose. In both cases, the number of repetitions is defined by the number of poses or sections of the practice.

Mastering Poses

mastering a pose

Another way to interpret the question at hand is, “how many times should I repeat a yoga pose until I can do it perfectly?”. Sadly, there is no definitive answer, as it depends on each individual’s approach to the practice.

  • Frequency – How often do you practice the asana you are trying to master? On the one hand, if you practice more frequently, your body should accustom to the pose faster than if you only performed it once in a while. On the other hand, if you practice the pose too often, you may risk over exhausting the joints of muscles involved in performing the asana, which can slow down the process or even cause an injury.
  • Focus – Do you perform your desired asana as part of a larger practice, or do you spend time focusing on one specific pose? The former could result in feeling fatigued before you even get to the asana you’re trying to master. The latter might mean that the practice is one-sided. The best approach is to design the practice to revolve around the asana you are trying to perfect. Warm up the body to give you the best chance at performing the pose, and make sure to include counter poses and a restorative sequence afterward.
  • What does “perfect” mean to you? – It’s important to remind yourself that every person’s body is different. The asana you are trying to master does not have to look picture-perfect. It may look entirely different from how other people perform it, such as your yoga teacher, a fellow student, or a famous Instagram yogi. That doesn’t mean your pose interpretation isn’t good or indeed perfect. Don’t wear yourself out trying to achieve an impossible standard.
  • Milestone vs. maintenance – Being able to finally perform the pose you have been working on can be truly exhilarating. However, you should remember that yoga is all about regular practice. Unless you continue to include the pose in your practice, you will not be able to perform it long-term. You may not need to perform it as frequently, but you should definitely revisit the pose from time to time.

Related: How Long Should You Hold a Yoga Pose?

Dangers of Repetition

bikram yoga

Yoga was built on the principle of regular, devoted practice. This theme is consistently present in yogic philosophy, as well as in individual yoga sessions.

Yoga styles such as Ashtanga or Hot 26 (formerly known as Bikram Yoga) rely entirely on the concept of repeating the same sequence of poses every time.

However, repetition has its downsides.

  • Limited range – When you are overly focused on repeating the same pose (or sequence of poses), you may be missing out on a whole lot of other asanas and their numerous benefits. Another thing to consider is the impact on your body. If you only focus on one pose, you might neglect other parts of your body. A well-constructed yoga sequence will include poses that challenge the entire body while making some space for recovery.
  • Injury – Repetitive movement can result in unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints. In the same way, as runners and cyclists may have issues with their knees or quadriceps, yogis can suffer from repetition injuries from practicing the same poses over and over. In particular, doing Vinyasa too frequently can lead to fatigued muscles, over-exhausted ligaments, and stiff upper body joints. To avoid this, it’s important to be aware of your limitations and stay present in every moment of your practice. Furthermore, you should always strive to perform asanas with proper alignment, resulting in a safer, more sustainable practice.
  • Obsessive tendencies – This is not applicable to everyone, but some people are more prone to obsessive behavior than others. If you have been known to exhibit obsessive tendencies, be mindful of your yoga practice. Repeating the same pose may not yield the results you’re after and overshadow the beauty and joy of the yoga practice.

In conclusion, there is no “magic number” of times you should repeat a yoga pose. Yoga is a fluid, adaptive practice that can look and feel different to every practitioner. However, if you define your intention, you may be able to narrow the answer down and pursue your goals.

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