Early morning is a spiritually charged time of the day in Vedic tradition. Sun salutations, camel pose and bridge pose are apt to stretch and strengthen core. Yoga before bed can be relaxing and contributes to restful sleep. Include breathing in positions like Child's pose and soothing surrender postures like half pigeon and seated forward fold in evenings.
Yoga can be spiritual as well as a physical practice and therefore is beneficial at any time of the day. However, we will have times that are better for our own practice depending upon schedule, body and personality type. A morning person may need the stimulating effects of certain asanas to start the day, while someone who is slow to wake may be warmed up and ready to practice by sunset.
Early morning before sunrise is considered a spiritually charged time of the day in the Vedic tradition and is therefore ideal for yoga. If morning practice is preferable, then sun salutations should be included in the session. These asanas get the body warmed up and stretch and tone the core.
Yoga at Night
Yoga before bed can be relaxing and contribute to a restful sleep. Avoid asanas that are overstimulating and counterproductive for rest, such as forward and backward bends. Focus on breathing in positions such as Child’s pose, which stretches the back muscles and aids digestion.
There is no period of the day that is perfect for everyone when it comes to yoga practice. The best rule to follow is the one of no distraction. Choose to practice at a time when you are least likely to be interrupted, whether it be early morning or late at night. Do not practice if already feeling sleepy or fatigued; the most benefits are yielded when fully conscious of each movement. Also, as with any exercise, wait at least two hours after eating before practicing to avoid discomfort.
Consistency is also key in yoga practice perhaps even more than when you choose to practice. The more you do the same poses regularly, the more you will notice how the practice is producing change within your body and your life. Over time you will be able to move more deeply into poses that are difficult when first beginning. This takes disciplined practice to discover. If possible, make new discoveries about your practice and yourself by joining a class, as yoga is ultimately about spiritual connection with others.
If you enjoy yoga as part of your fitness regimen, you might wonder if there is an optimal time of day for yoga asana practice. Maybe you feel energized after your early evening yoga class, leading you to believe that it would be better for you to do it in the morning. There is really not a right or wrong time to practice yoga. Choosing a time of day depends on many different factors.
The time of day we practice yoga should determine what postures we practice, and being aware of which postures are energizing and which ones are soothing is important!
An ideal morning yoga class will ease you into gentle movements shortly after you crawl out of bed. That’s why you’ll generally find yourself practicing a few extra sets of cobra before your first chaturanga, nice, long forward folds, and some extra stretches at the beginning of class. Sun Salutations are great for waking up the body, and after lots of movement and balancing, the instructor will most likely guide you into some gentle inversions and heart openers. If your hips and spine are feeling open at this point – dive into the heart openers, like camel, bridge and wheel. These postures will leave you feeling awake and rejuvenated – maybe even more than your morning cup of coffee! Also, indulge in an extra-long headstand or shoulder stand to send fresh oxygen into your head. This will also allow you to leave class ready to face your day.
The perfect evening yoga class should soothe and relax you after a long day. An after-work yoga class is a slightly different story – you’ll be ready to move around, open your heart, and potentially move upside down. If you’re practicing later in the evening however (within a few hours of going to bed), you’ll want to resist moving into big heart openers and energizing inversions. Most likely, your instructor will guide you into soothing surrender postures like half pigeon and seated forward fold. Twists are also incredibly relaxing in the evening as well. Your instructor might cue deep heart openers, so just be sure to gauge how you feel and what you need.
Start paying attention to which postures affect your energy levels at which time of day, and this will empower you to practice exactly what your body needs. Remember – you are your best guide!