When we're teaching, it is tempting to worry about how long to hold each pose. Because our days and years are structured largely based on the passing of time, we assume that a posture should also be structured this way. We think, I need to memorize how many seconds each postures should be held. But this is not useful. Here's why...
Each Posture is Different
Each posture demands a different level of effort. By design, some postures require immense amounts of physical strength and others require no strength at all. Fingerstand (pictured above) will never be the same difficulty level of something like Half Tortoise. This means Fingerstand will be held for less time.
The goals of the postures are all different. Instead of thinking about how many seconds we should hold the pose, we need to think about how much effort is being exerted. This will give us a sense of how long it's reasonable to hold.
We should not try to mediate our effort over a certain period of time. For example, Half Moon Sidebend is often taught by holding the pose for a long time. This means that most people adjust their posture by holding a shallow version. This is not very useful. The postures are muscular engagements. We should try to use our muscles to the extent that we have the strength. Doing a very small amount for a long period of time is not as beneficial as using the muscle properly for a shorter amount of time.
Each Person is Different
The second reason that teaching to time is not useful is because each person is different. For a newer practitioner, a short hold is very difficult. For an experienced practitioner a longer hold of the same posture may be easy.
There is no "one time fits all" method. The amount of time to hold a pose depends on what the pose is and the comfort and experience level of the practitioners.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are scholars as well as practitioners of yogic postures, breath control and meditation. They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga.
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