Some people like to practice yoga in the morning, while others may choose a lunchtime or an evening class. The options are there for you to choose and try to fit in into your day.
Which is best, yoga in the morning or evening? Well, both times of the day have their benefits. Practicing yoga in the morning can be very energizing and may help put you in a positive frame of mind for the rest of the day. Yoga in the evening may help you unwind from a long day and help you relax.
I was never a morning person. And so when I started practicing Ashtanga yoga, I went to the 6 pm class, right after work.
I had my yoga clothes with me and so after work, I went to my yoga studio, quickly changed, and there I was, breathing the day’s stress away. When I decided to go deeper into my practice, my teacher suggested going to the morning Mysore class.
This was at 6:30 in the morning..!
I still remember it. I was so nervous I hardly slept. I woke up at 5:30, went to my yoga studio half asleep, did my practice in a bit of a daze, went home, had a shower and a much-needed coffee, and went to work.
As challenging as I found it, this then became my norm. With time I managed to find a good rhythm and so I gradually slept earlier and so waking up in the morning because much easier.
Since moving away from my shala I now practice late morning, after teaching my morning yoga class. I found this to work the best for me. And so with experience, I have found that the ideal time to practice yoga really does depend on you and your lifestyle.
In the morning our bodies are stiffer and yet there is something magical about a quiet morning practice.
On the other hand, in the evening our bodies are more flexible though we may feel less grounded and tired. Both morning and evening practices have their benefits and both can help offer value, so it may take some trial and error to find the best time for you.
Yoga-tip: Yoga accessories can really make your yoga practice that much easier, whether you practice yoga in a studio or at home. If you are interested in getting the best yoga essentials, check out my article: Your Ultimate Guide To Home Yoga Essentials & Accessories
Continue reading as I explore the benefits to both morning and evening practices and this hopefully will help you decide what is the best for you.
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Yoga in the morning
There really is something special about starting your day with yoga. Your mind tends to be quieter so you may feel more grounded. Your body may be stiffer, but that feeling of starting your day in such a positive way can work wonders on your mood for the rest of the day.
That is how I felt with my morning Ashtanga practice. Yes, it took several sun salutations to get over the initial morning stiffness, but it was very easy to be in the zone.
In a morning yoga practice, you may want to include many energizing postures. And so you try to start off with sun salutations and add in backbends and perhaps even some inversions.
Let’s have a look at the main benefits of a morning yoga practice.
Helps you wake up
A morning yoga practice really can help you wake up, like any morning exercise really.
Especially if you practice a more dynamic practice, like Ashtanga yoga or Vinyasa flow, all those sun salutations and flows will really help wake you up and feel more energized for the rest of the day.
And so especially if you are not a morning person, like me, then try out a morning yoga class and you really will feel that beautiful morning buzz.
Sets the tone of the day
I once saw a card with this:
“You’re F@#$&* lucky I did yoga today”
For anyone who has ever practiced in the moring, you can most likley relate!
When your day starts with a calm mind and you help guide your body through a sequence of postures aimed to help build strength and flexibility, then you are starting off your day in a way that will set a calm tone for the day to follow.
Let your breath guide you.
This is one cue I often give in my yoga classes. Especially in a physically demanding class, we want our physical movements to follow the tempo of our breath. I sometimes say to my students to notice the breath when they are doing something physically difficult, as our breath can help us notice if we are struggling.
And so if we get to practice this form of yoga and meditation in the morning, imagine then being able to bring this practice to the rest of your day.
Especially those days when you feel like you are being tested..
Practice on an empty stomach
One key benefit of practicing yoga in the morning yoga is that we are more likely to practice with an empty stomach.
It is recommended to wait 3-4 hours after a meal before practicing yoga. If you practice in the morning, then ideally you should try to practice on an empty stomach.
We want to practice on an empty stomach because otherwise the energy the body needs for digestion should not be taken away from our yoga practice.
What happens if we don’t give our body enough time to digest, is that any form of bending and twisting will most likely feel very uncomfortable.
For more information on what to eat before and after yoga, check out my article: What to Eat Before and After Yoga (Plus Yummy Recipes)
Embrace the Sattvic energy
If we were to dig a little deeper, we could explore the practice through the lens of energy states in the yoga.
According to Hindu philosophy, there are three guṇas, also referred to as qualities of nature. These three gunas are:
- Sattva – balance, and peacefulness
- Tamas – darkness, and heaviness
- Rajas – energy, and passion
To give you an example, a hghly rajasic person may be an over achiever, with a very active lifestyle. On the other hand, a highly tamasic person may be heavier, slow moving and prone to depression.
Cultivating sattva, the energy of balance and peace is key. This can be done through nutrition (such as Ayurveda) or the time of day we choose to practice yoga.
Early morning is sattvic (from 4 to 8 am). The day is rajasic while the night is tamasic.
And so through this yogic lense of energies and qualities of nature, we aim to practice yoga very early in the morning to take advantage of the complete silence and the pure and sattvic energy.
Morning yoga video
Here is an 11-minute wake up morning yoga class to try out:
Yoga at night
As energising as a morning yoga practice may be, that is how resful and relaxing an evening yoga class be be.
In my yoga studio, my evening classes tend to be full. People of all ages come to relax and unwind after a long day at work.
I try to focus on grounding postures, twists, forward folds, and hip openers, so as to help stress melt away and help my students get a good night’s sleep.
Let’s have a look at the main benefits of an evening yoga practice.
Unwind and Better sleep
So many students come to my evening classes with the day’s weight on your shoulders. People tend to be a bit more tired in the evening so evening yoga classes differ from morning classes.
Chances are people are going to go home, maybe have something to eat, and then go to bed. And so an evening yoga class is there to help people unwind and get a good nights’ sleep.
And so a combination of a gentle Hatha class with some Restorative yoga poses may be the best type of evening yoga practice. This is because both together help offer a holistic sequence of physical, meditative, and breathing exercises.
Studies have found yoga to help promote sleep quality. One study examined participants with insomnia. Twenty participants took part in the study and they carried out a daily yoga home practice for 10 weeks. The results of this study found that yoga treatment was able to generate statistically significant improvements in most of the important subjective sleep measures.
For more information on how yoga can help with sleep, you may like my article: Yoga For Better Sleep: A Guide To The Best Exercises
More and more studies are examining how yoga can help people get a better night’s sleep. A gentle yoga practice can help us release some of the tension we may have build up during the day. And this then helps prepare our mind and body for a calm and good night’s sleep.
Some examples of postures to practice before going to bed to help calm the mind are Pigeon pose and Baddha Konasana.
If you are looking for a simple and relaxing yoga practice to help you relax, then perhaps try a restorative practice and follow it up with a long savasana.
If you are interested in a tension relieving yoga sequence, you may find my article interesting: A Beautiful Yin Yoga Sequence To Help Calm Any Anxiety
Evening yoga video
Here is a 12-minute calming bedtime yoga class to try out:
If you are not sure what the best time of yoga for you is, then a good idea may be to try out practicing on different times of the day and then see what works best for you and your schedule.
The ideal time to practice yoga is whatever time works best for you. For example, Ashtanga yoga is traditionally practiced very early in the morning. This is not the case for other types of yoga which really does depend on the practitioner and what the local studio may offer.
For example, in many 9-5 jobs, people may choose to practice yoga very early in the morning, such as at 7 am. Alternatively, you may choose to yo to yoga straight after work, or you may choose to attend an evening class.
As it is a personal preference work with what works best for you and your lifestyle.
What equipment do I need to practice yoga at home?
Yoga mat – You will want a thick mat with extra cushioning so as to protect your joints. A good option is the Maduka Pro mat. One added benefit is that it comes with a lifetime guarantee when sold and also shipped by Amazon.com.
Yoga block – You will want one or two yoga blocks to help you access certain of the yin yoga poses.
Yoga bolster – They are a perfect option for those wanting to practice restorative yoga, or for anyone who wants a softer yoga practice.
Eye pillow – They are great as they offer that little extra bit of luxury and relaxation.
What foods should I avoid before and after practice?
Foods we should try to avoid include:
- onions and garlic
- unripe fruits
- processed foods
- food additives
- unripe vegetables
For more information on what to eat before and after yoga, you may find my article interesting: What to Eat Before and After Yoga (Plus Yummy Recipes)