Is Doing Yoga Once A Week Worth It? (According to research)

Whenever I can, I like to do yoga as often as possible. However, sometimes my schedule only allows me to fit in one yoga per week. For me, it’s good enough becasue even one class per week comes with a truckload of benefits.

Is doing yoga once a week enough?

For me, doing yoga once a week is worth it because it helps me to relax the body and reclaim the length-tension relationship in the muscles.

I also find that even one yoga session per week can make significant changes in my mood, energy, and well-being.

When I first started doing yoga I was under the impression that you need to do it every day to see the results.

(That was a big mistake.)

Here’s photo of me doing yoga routine after running on the beach.

yoga one day a week on the beach

Although I don’t practice yoga as often as I should, doing just one session per week seems to help me with lowering muscle tension and improving my strength for my gym workouts.

I also find that spending 20-30 minutes on the floor doing stretches and yoga poses is enough to maintain my flexibility and range of motion.

Can you lose weight from yoga once a week?

You can lose weight by doing yoga once a week, as long as you maintain a calorie deficit.

One class may not be enough to get washboard abs and ridiculously low body fat percentage, but its enough to boost metabolic rate and lowers the stress that may often cause unwanted overeating.

Here’s the before and after picture of my wife, Emiliia.

before and after picture of my wife after doing yoga once a week

There’s a difference of 4 weeks, 10 pounds, a few inches, and a clothing size between these photos.

I noticed long time ago that when it comes to my weight loss and eating too much, the food is not the problem.

The problem is the problem.

I struggled a lot with excess weight because of high stress levels, which triggered me to eat more to calm down and relax.

And, by reducing the stress, I was able to eat less and lose weight faster.

For me, it is good to do yoga at least once a week. Not because it burns calories, but becasue it reduces muscle tension and relaxes the whole body. This way I have less cravings for foods and lower overall stress.

Benefits of doing yoga once a week according to research

Here are some of the benefits of doing yoga once a week.

1. Anxiety reduction

According to the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, “doing one session of yoga class helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and down-regulate sympathetic response.”

Virginia Lemay, Pharm.D., is a clinical professor at the University of Rhode Island.

In her recently published study, Dr. Lemay documented the effects of 6-week yoga and meditation program performed once a week on stress perception, anxiety levels, and mindfulness skills using the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) self-reporting questionnaire.

“After 6-weeks, all seventeen participants experienced a significant reduction in stress and anxiety levels with BAI scores dropping an average by 9.6 points,” explains Dr. Lemay.

Here’s the graph that may help you visualize the results.

photo of results after doing yoga class once a week
Lemay, V., Hoolahan, J., & Buchanan, A. (2019). Impact of a Yoga and Meditation Intervention on Students’ Stress and Anxiety Levels. American journal of pharmaceutical education83(5), 7001.

The article published in June 2019 states that “60 minutes vinyasa yoga session, followed by 30-minute meditation practice was enough to lower stress, reduce cortisol levels, and release feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin.”

2. Mindfulness

“The objective of the study was also to evaluate the efficacy of a 30-minute meditation class on general mindfulness,” says Dr. Lemay.

According to Dr. Lemay, “30 minutes of meditation class was enough to improve the perception of mindfulness in every group.”

Dr. Lemay measured mindfulness using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ).

In the following table, you can see the results of 30 minutes meditation session performed once a week together with yoga

Non reacting18.522.4

3. Stress reduction

“During the six-week study period, students’ stress scores were measured using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS),” says Dr. Lemay.

“Before the 6-week program, the baseline for stress was on average 21.8. After the 6-week yoga program, the stress levels went down by 7.9 points to 13.9,” explains Dr. Lemay.

Here is the graph.

photo of results from study on doing yoga once a week
Lemay, V., Hoolahan, J., & Buchanan, A. (2019). Impact of a Yoga and Meditation Intervention on Students’ Stress and Anxiety Levels. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 83(5).

4. Reduce cortisol levels

According to Complementary Therapies in Medicine Journal, “a single session of yoga is enough to significantly down-regulate cortisol levels, accelerate blood pressure recovery from short-term stress, and improve self-confidence before taking the complicated mathematic test.”

24 healthy adults reduced their stress responses (blood pressure, cortisol) after a single yoga session, compared to the control group who was watching TV.

“Yoga practice reduces cortisol levels by making changes in the autonomic nervous system,” according to the journal.

“It stimulates parasympathetic activity that is responsible to lowers the respiratory rate, increasing GI motility, and secrets serotonin to start vasodilation in the GI tract.”

5. Pain management

Robert B. Saper, MD, is a Professor at the Boston University School of Medicine.

In his study published on June 2013, Dr. Saper compared the effects of yoga on lower back pain between people who practiced yoga once a week and twice a week.

“Once-weekly or twice-weekly yoga classes were similarly effective,” says Dr. Saper.

“Within the first 6 week, the group who performed yoga class once a week had managed to lower the use of NSAIDs and other pain medication by 27%, and 30% by the end of the week 12,” explains Dr. Saper.

Here is the graph that helps to illustrates the results.

photo of the changes from doing yoga once a week
Saper, R. B., Boah, A. R., Keosaian, J., Cerrada, C., Weinberg, J., & Sherman, K. J. (2013). Comparing Once- versus Twice-Weekly Yoga Classes for Chronic Low Back Pain in Predominantly Low Income Minorities: A Randomized Dosing Trial. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM2013, 658030.

But that’s not all.

(Here is the most interesting part.)

“The group who performed yoga twice a week reported a lower intake of pain medication at week 6 by 36%.”

“However, at the end of week 12, the use of pain medication went significantly up, compared to the once-a-week group,” explains Dr. Saper.

Here’s the graph from Dr. Saper study.

photo of the benefits of doing yoga once a week

As you can see, the effects of doing just one single yoga session can go way beyond weight loss. The importance of pain reduction may have a compounding effect on the body.

6. It may improve recovery

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research published a study that doing yoga after exercise helps to attenuate peak muscle soreness and improves recovery.

It helped to significantly reduces peak muscle soreness DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and relieve the perception of pain.

7. Helps to lose weight

According to The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, a single bout of 90 minutes Vinyasa yoga session had similar effects on energy expenditure as traditional aerobic exercise.

“Systematic participation in Vinyasa yoga may effectively improve cardiorespiratory fitness and promote body weight loss, as an alternative method to traditional aerobic exercise,” states the journal.

The sun salutation, which is the part that requires to continually change position from standing to sitting, was burning the most amount of calories, compared to the rest.

If your goal is to burn more calories, and you’re doing yoga sessions once a week, try to spend more time doing the sun salutation part of the session.

How to do yoga once a week if you don’t have time?

The list below can help you find the time (and fit your yoga workouts) into your crazy busy work schedule.

1. Pick a day and time that you can commit to

If you want to make yoga a part of your weekly routine, it’s important to pick a day and time that you are available.

For me, weekends are the best time to practice. (I like weekends because during the week I’m swamped with work.)

If weekends are not an option for you, any day of the week will work.

2. Start slowly from 20 minutes

If doing 60 minute class sounds scary, start by doing shorter yoga practices. It’s best to set aside at least 20-30 minutes for your practice.

While there are some out there, it’s generally best to set aside at least 60 minutes for your practice.

Don’t skip the warmup and cooldown part. If you’re short on time, you can always try a express yoga or practice at home only sun salutation from a youtube video.

3. Choose a style of yoga that you enjoy

There are many different styles of yoga, so it’s important to choose one that you enjoy.

If you’re not sure where to start, try taking a few different classes or doing some research online to find a style that suits your needs and interests.

Some popular styles of yoga include hatha, vinyasa, and yin yoga.

4. Find a comfortable place to practice

For me, comfort is important. I recommend your to find a place where you feel safe and relaxed so that you can fully focus on your practice. No distractions. No mobile phones. No Instagram or Facebook.

This could be in your home, in a studio, or even outdoors in nature.

5. Make sure you have the necessary supplies

Before starting your yoga practice, make sure you have all of the necessary supplies.

This includes a mat, towel, water bottle, and any props that you might need (such as blocks or straps). Once you have everything you need, simply roll out your mat and get started!

Even Joe Rogan is doing yoga once a week

A lot of people practice hot yoga and swear by its benefits. One of them is the jiu-jitsu black belt and the founder of the famous podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience”, Joe Rogan.

In one of his episodes with Henry Rollins, Joe explains the benefits of doing a 90-minutes hot yoga session once a week.

“I think I need at least one day of hard cardio a week.

And I think I need at least one day of hard lifting weights a week.

But I also think I need at least one day of hot yoga a week.”

Joe continues:

“To me, yoga is one of the most important because in that 90-minutes I cannot go anywhere, my phone is not in the room.

It’s just me and a jug of water, a yoga mat, and a class.

The last twenty minutes are the hardest to get through. But when you get through, you feel better. It lengthens everything.

Back, hamstring, it stretches everything and loosens it up. This is an antidote for all the muscle tension.”

The bottom line

Yoga has been a great way for me to improve my mental and physical health. It’s also given meaning in life by helping with the balance between work and personal life, as well coping skills when things get tough on an emotional level too.

A single session of intense (and prolonged) stretching, combined with breathing and meditation practice was enough to make me calm and relaxed.

(For me, this was the most important.)

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is a personal trainer and writer at Millennial Hawk. He holds a MSc in Sports and Exercise Science from the University of Central Lancashire. He is an exercise physiologist who enjoys learning about the latest trends in exercise and sports nutrition. Besides his passion for health and fitness, he loves cycling, exploring new hiking trails, and coaching youth soccer teams on weekends.

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