Here’s How Much Yoga It Takes to Truly See Results

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Scrolling through Instagram, it seems like everyone you know is nailing single-arm balances and handstands (in front of a mountain or on a picturesque beach, no less). But for those of us who aren’t hardcore about the practice, simply holding downward dog can be challenging.

The good news: You don’t have to be the most flexible person in the room to reap the benefits of practicing. Still, you may wonder what good the occasional yoga class is doing for your body and mind. Well, let out an om: You don’t need to hit the yoga studio every day (or even at all) for significant benefits, both physically and mentally.

Reasons to Roll Out the Mat

Whether you’re aiming for the flexibility of a gymnast or just a calmer mind, yoga has immeasurable benefits. Physically, yoga has been shown to improve flexibility, posture, and balance; strengthen bones; and increase muscle strength. The effects of selected asanas in Iyengar yoga on flexibility: pilot study. Amin DJ, Goodman M. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 2013, Nov.;18(3):1532-9283.

There are plenty of overall health perks too: Research shows that yoga can decrease inflammation, boost immune system function, and improve symptoms associated with chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The practice can also do wonders for your mental health and mood, reducing depression, stress, and anxiety. But can an average person actually reap these benefits, or do you have to spend half your salary on unlimited access to a yoga studio to see a change?

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The (Short) Road to Happiness

First things first: “We know from exercise that the more you do, generally the more benefits you get,” says William J. Broad, a science writer and author of The Science of Yoga. “Yoga is no different. Practicing once a week is good. Practicing three to four times per week would be better.”

But just like yoga pants, one size doesn’t fit all. Loren Fishman, M.D., a back pain specialist who studied yoga and uses it in his rehabilitative practice, believes that even one minute spent in practice can be enough to reset someone’s outlook: “One minute in meditation can have a frustrated, angry, terrible-feeling person feeling resourceful, kind, and fun,” he says.

While this way of thinking probably won’t lead to Cirque du

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