Is there any benefit to doing two yoga classes in a day? I “double dip” on occasion — probably done it a total of 15 or 20 times in my yoga career — and the one thing I can say for certain is that it is exhausting. Two vigorous vinyasa flow classes can probably burn 1000 calories or even more. This is the equivalent of a full grown adult running 9-minute miles for two and a half hours straight.
Besides being pretty fun, is it actually a good idea to double dip? In terms of the physical benefit, I wonder if the wear and tear on joints may be too much. That is, I wonder if you might make yourself more prone to injury if you do two classes in a day. I also wonder if there might not be a negative effect in terms of muscle development. Weightlifters, for instance, who lift too much can actually retard the muscles’ ability to regenerate, which is really when the strengthening process happens. We tear muscle tissue when we engage in anaerobic exercise, and it is during the rest periods that the tissue grows back stronger and tougher. After a certain point, there is certainly a diminishing rate of return for anaerobic exercise. The trick, I guess, is to find that tipping point where exercising more is no longer worth it or is actually causing damage.
Three hours of intense yoga, especially if this is all in a row and not spread out over the course of the day, seems to me like it might be a little too much. I don’t have any scientific evidence for this, or really even much anecdotal evidence, but based on my own experience of being totally exhausted after two classes, I suspect that double dipping is generally not a good idea, at least not as a regular practice.
With that said, there may be a safe and even productive way to double dip. First, if you practice twice in a day, but spread the two sessions out over quite some time, this might be okay. For instance, you could practice at 7:30 AM before, and then again at 7:30 PM after work. Or, if you want to do two classes consecutively, you might do a rigorous vinyasa flow class first, and then a more relaxing restorative class afterwards.
Even if there is a way to double dip safely and productively, I still wonder if it’s really worthwhile to commit that much time to yoga in one day. I do love yoga, but once I account for the time it takes to get to and from the studio, to shower, etc., double dipping takes a huge 4 to 5 hour chunk out of my day. That’s 1/4th to 1/3rd of my waking day, more time than I will dedicate to any other single activity during the day. Sometimes it’s worth it; but usually, for me, it’s not.