According to tradition, an experienced yogi should practice Ashtanga 6 days a week. If you’re just beginning it is recommended to practice 3 days a week for a few months and then slowly add days one at a time.
The most important part about practicing is consistency, not necessarily intensity. It is much more beneficial to practice at 70% or 80% 6 days a week, than 100% once or twice. There are two reasons for this. The first is because our practice is supposed to be sustainable for our entire lives. If we overwork or burn ourselves out, there is no sustainability. Even if you’re just beginning and totally love the practice and want to dive head first in, it’s best to go slow and steady to create a consistent habit and not just an exhausting fad.
The second reason is our practice is to serve as a daily reset. Mentally, we are clearing our mind and bringing ourselves back to a calm center. Physically, we’re pushing the body in strength and flexibility and also reversing bad habits accumulated over a lifetime. We carry stress, often subconsciously, throughout our bodies. Think of every time you tense when a car pulls out in front of you, or hunching over a computer, or sleeping in a weird position. Every time we step on the mat, we’re making a positive change to reverse those effects. I liken this process to doing the dishes. It’s better to do your dishes daily and not just once a week. You aren’t daunted with the task of “making this one count,” and you’re not having to scrub so hard to get rid of the week old leftovers.
Everybody’s practice is unique. You don’t have to do full primary every single day for your practice to make a difference. What is important is that you show up, give it your best for that day, and forgive yourself for whatever “flaws” you think you had. The more you practice the more you begin to realize it’s not the asana that determines your growth, but the calm and clarity you’re able to achieve. Take the strides to make that clarity and peace a daily practice and not just when you feel 100%.