You must have been watching streams of yoga videos on YouTube or Meta. If the science of yoga has interested you beyond watching videos or listening to lectures, there is no better news than that. The next step is the practice of yoga and its aspects.
One of the most important factors pertaining to yoga practice is its time. In the busy lifestyle of this era, you might wonder where to fit yoga into your daily routine. There can be various times of the day you can practice yoga.
However, to choose your best time needs to highlight a few factors. Let’s look at a few factual conditions of which time is the best to do yoga and how you can fix a slot of your day for the exercise of well-being.
Morning, Afternoon or Late Evening?
The day is broadly divided into four parts according to the yogic science – Early morning, Sunrise, Noon, and Sunset. Every period has its own importance and depending on that the tasks for the day are decided. For the practice of yoga, especially spiritual progress, Brahma Muhurta (early morning before sunrise) is recommended.
Have you ever thought about why most of the yoga and wellbeing related TV shows are broadcasted in the morning? It’s because early morning offers multiple favourable conditions to support yoga practice. There is a high amount of oxygen in the air in the morning, which is good for breathing exercises. Also, early morning is generally the coolest time of the day and hence suitable for rigorous yoga poses and sun salutation like practices.
Afternoon time is not recommended for the practice of yoga. It is generally lunchtime and for a full meal to digest completely, the body needs some time to do its work. The sun throws more heat during this time. Hence, there is a chance of dehydration due to excess heat in the environment. Performing yoga exercises is not a good idea in this period.
Still, if you only get free time in the afternoon hours, then wait for about 3-4 hours after eating before you do yoga.
Late evening is also considered a suitable time for yoga practice. Mainly two reasons for it; The afternoon food is completely digested up to this time and it removes the fatigue of the day’s strain and makes one fresh and calm. However, if you prefer evening time, make sure you do yoga on an empty stomach to avoid cramps or indigestion.
Best time to do yoga in morning
Morning is a time of peace and positivity. It is certainly the most recommended time to practice yoga.
Some yoga traditions, such as the Ashtanga, Hatha, and other Indian styles advocate doing yoga practices early in the morning, if possible, before the sun rises. Today itself, Mysore-style ashtanga classes are offered in the morning time in many ashrams in India.
In the morning time, 1 hour 36 minutes period before sunrise is called Brahma Muhurta i.e. The Divine Hours. One should do yoga, especially the meditation practices, between 4.00 am and 6.00 am in the Brahma Muhurta. It leads to better concentration. There is a peacefulness in the atmosphere during this time, which is helpful to bring our attention to one place and practice mindfully.
An Ayurvedic view suggests one should wake up one and half hours before sunrise for your yoga and meditation practices. Waking up in Brahma Muhurta is good for breathing clean air. It also enhances one’s psychological well-being, helping to progress in yoga.
The importance of morning yoga practice is also supported by science. Here are a few pieces of research that explain why morning yoga practice is beneficial.
A 2019 article published in International Journal of Yoga suggests that practitioners benefit more from a morning yoga practice as their daily activities are yet to begin and the mind can concentrate better on the yoga practice.
Another research documented in Integrative Medicine Research says that practicing yoga in the morning improves muscle strength.
A research review article of 2019 suggests that there is a high amount of Vitamin E and D in the environment in the early morning. They help secrete Serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for creating the feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Meditating in the early morning is thus beneficial to stay positive and happy.
Yoga Practices to Do in the Morning
In the morning, you have completely digested last night’s food and now your body is light and flexible. The morning practice of yoga is recommended because the body is more responsive to perform rigorous and complex asanas. If you create dynamic energy within your body in the morning, its effect will help you throughout the day.
In morning yoga, you can practice the Vinyasa flow style which includes rounds of sun salutation in a rhythmic flow. You can also go for back-bend practices like half wheel pose, wheel pose, camel pose, and cobra pose. The inversions of these poses like headstand or handstand can also be performed.
Importance of Evening Yoga
If you’re not a morning person or feel stiffness in the body in the morning time, evening time you can opt to do yoga.
The evening is a good time for yoga as there is no hurry to finish the practice and run to work. It is the time when most peoples’ daily jobs are completed and the mind is free from any deadlines. Practising yoga in the evening offers stability and mindfulness.
According to great yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar, practising yoga in the evening helps one relieve from the stress, strain, and fatigue of the day and maintains calmness in the practitioner’s mind. Doing yoga in the evening allows you to unwind the stress and prepare for better sleep.
Also, evening yoga practice is most beneficial for a peaceful sleep if you end your session with deep relaxation. Evening yoga practice has been effective in treating the symptoms of insomnia. Concluding your session with soothing and relaxing techniques certainly grants you a deep and peaceful sleep.
A 2019 research document in Integrative Medicine Research shows that the practitioners were able to perform more physical activity in the yoga sessions, suggesting that we have a greater capacity to exercise in the evening.
Yoga Practices to Do in the Evening
You can include all types of stretches, subtle bending postures, twisting, sun salutations, and relaxing practices in your evening yoga session. However, it is suggested to avoid chest-opening and severe back bending postures while practising in the evening.
You can practice relaxing postures like standing wide-legged forward fold, garland pose, goddess pose, seated spinal twist, or happy baby pose. Ensure that your evening session ends with a deep relaxation.
So, when is the best time to do yoga?
The practice of yoga is considered beneficial whenever you perform it. Mornings and evenings are both the best times to get on the mat. It all depends on which time works the best for you.
You can try practising yoga at various times to check which is a suitable time for you. If you are a morning person, there is no doubt that your morning yoga practice would be active and cherishing. But if you are not so fond of the mornings, shift your practice to the evening.
The only time when a person refrains from practising yoga is after the meals. It can cause discomfort, especially in the abdominal bends since the food is still in the process of digestion.
Another important factor is to choose the best time for yoga practice by focusing on your goal. If you wish to practice spirituality and mental exercises, the Brahma Muhurta or time between 4 AM to 6 AM is the best period.
If you are targeting weight loss and building muscle strength, the best time to practice is in the morning from 6 AM to 9 AM. However, if your goal is to experience calmness and relaxation, the evening is the best time to practice.
It all leads to one and only factor, that you get to choose your best time to practice yoga. Consider your health, habits, preferences, and lifestyle and go for the time that best suits all these.
Do’s and Don’ts of Yoga Practice Depending on the Time
Whether you are choosing morning or evening for your yoga practice, it is necessary to follow certain protocols based on the timing. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts while performing yogic exercises.
If you are practising in the early morning
Ensure you are active on the mat and for that, empty your bladder and bowel before practice. Practicing yoga with night’s stomach can disturb your practice.
If you feel weak while practicing, you can have a glass of warm water mixed with honey.
While practicing in Brahma Muhurta, pay attention to slow and mindful practices. Focus more on meditation and breathing exercises as compared to fast-paced postures.
End your morning yoga session with Shavasana. This will help you relax and rejuvenate.
Do not shower or eat breakfast 30 minutes after your yoga session.
If you are practising yoga in the evening
Do not practice yoga immediately after eating your meals. If you have had a large meal, it is better to wait for at least 3-4 hours until the digestion completes.
If you are hungry, you can have a subtle snack or green tea before practicing yoga in the evening.
End your evening yoga session with deep relaxation in Shavasana. This will result in deep and undisturbed sleep at night.
Do not perform strenuous exercises or stretches once you have ended the practice with relaxation.
Do not have dinner immediately after your evening yoga session.
You can practice thunderbolt pose and perform Bhramari pranayama before going to bed.
The benefits of yoga are multifold, starting from your physical to body to your mind and even subtler forms of it. Its practice has been effective in the overall well being of persons and contributed to increased positivity, mindfulness, and energy.
Thus, no matter which time you choose to practice yoga, make sure you are consistent once you fix the time. Some busy days may not allow you to give justice to your yoga practice, but do not skip it for the day altogether. Because doing yoga at any time, following its guidelines, will result in health and harmony.
Effects of Yoga Asana Practice Approach on Types of Benefits Experienced https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746050/
Morning and evening exercise https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5481716/
Brahma Muhurta for healthy lifestyle https://wjpr.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/article_issue/1556613364.pdf
Morning and evening exercise