The beginning yoga student has many questions, particularly when trying to start a home practice. When to practice, what poses to practice and how to practice them are things that even intermediate students wonder about. Whether or not to repeat yoga poses as you practice is an important aspect of yoga that involves several considerations.
Style of Yoga
If you are doing a vinyasa style yoga sequence, you automatically repeat a number of the poses. A sun salutation-like series of asanas typically serves to link other poses. But what about those other poses? Should you be repeating standing poses like triangle and other asanas that may be listed just once in a sequence?
Yoga Poses to Repeat
Poses that are not traditionally held for long periods of time can certainly be repeated more than once. Many of the standing poses such as triangle, extended sideways angle and the warrior poses are important asanas that improve overall strength and flexibility while teaching us actions that are useful in more advanced poses. It makes sense to spend time working on these yoga poses. If you just do triangle pose a couple of times a week for 20 seconds, your progress will be slow.
Learn the joy of repetition as part of your regular yoga practice. Try repeating some of the standing poses three or four times in a row. Many seated twists and backbending poses can also be repeated. Do this with mindfulness, and see if you can bring something new to the pose each time. Increase the effort and awareness in different parts of your body to see how that impacts the pose and, in turn, your mental state.
One Time Only Yoga Poses
Some yoga poses are most effective if only practiced once as part of each sequence. Restorative poses are one example. Once you are set up in a pose – possibly with the assistance of props – that is intended to be restful and calming, there is no real benefit to coming out of the pose and trying it again. Instead, you might remain there for three to ten minutes or more.
Headstand and shoulderstand are also one time per sequence poses. You might repeat some preparatory poses, but once you get into headstand or shoulderstand, stay there for a few minutes and then come down. You will get more of the nourishing effects of these inversions from trying to deepen your experience while in the pose rather than repeating your efforts.
On a regular basis, spend part of your yoga sequence repeating several of the standing, twisting and backbending poses. Explore the actions of each asana. Remember that you are working on your yoga “practice.” Without practice, repetition and focused effort, there is little room for improvement.