When trying anything new, the question always comes up… what’s the BEST practice? It’s natural to try to research anything before diving in. The same holds when staring a yoga practice (specifically asanas and movement). What type of classes should I attend? Is hot yoga good for me? Should I go to a class or start at home? Are private yoga lessons worth it?
One of the ones that has come up lately is “when is the best time of day to practice?” The answer is, of course, all the time! Not the answer you were looking for, right? The choice of morning, afternoon, or evening yoga is really up to your preference and how you choose to work in yoga into your daily schedule. There are definite and recognizable benefits to bringing a yoga practice into your daily routine. That being said, there are certain types of yoga that usually work better for the different times of day.
Yoga in the Morning:
Morning yoga can be either a reflection or a kick start for your day ahead. With either choice, any morning routine should start off with a gentle mediation. This mediation can last anywhere from 1-2 minutes or can be a longer meditation session if you choose. Mediation in the morning allows the body to wake up gradually and allows the mind to settle into a waking state. It is also a perfect time to set an intention for your day. After sitting quietly for a time, you can begin to start moving. This movement can either be simply gentle stretches if you would like to wake up gently or it can be a more lively practice.
Yoga in the Afternoon:
Afternoons are frequently a time for a lull in activity. An uplifting and invigorating practice is usually the best at this time of day. Many times a short invigorating yoga practice will wake you up enough to finish your day. Although, if you have had a challenging day and are already amped up a seated meditation might focus you better to tackle the projects ahead.
Yoga in the Evening:
Evening practices that involve movement should be finished at least an hour before your actual bedtime. Even restorative practices can wake up the body and the mind enough to disrupt sleep. The only pose beneficial immediately before bed would be legs up the wall or a variation of yoga nidra or yogic sleep.
This advice, of course, should be taken with a grain of salt. You will want to practice the different types of yoga according to your daily cycle. The most important thing for yoga at ANY time of the day is to listen to your body. If you are creakier in the morning, maybe a yin practice with longer holds is what is going to work best. If an afternoon practice lends itself to more mediation and less movement, let that happen. If you happen to need a vigorous practice later in the evening, don’t shy away just because of the time of day. Make sure you are allowing your body to find the normal rhythm that is necessary for a good day or a good night’s sleep.