If you are just starting out with your yoga practice, or even if you are an experienced practitioner, you may be wondering: what is the best time to practice yoga? You want to get the most out of your practice while making sure your body and mind stay injury- and clutter-free. Well, the short answer is there really is no rigid and inflexible best time. You want your practice to be regular, consistent, and undisturbed, so find a time that works best for you and stick to it. The great sage and author of the Yoga Sutras Pantanjali tells us that our practice becomes grounded when we practice with consistency and without interruption, with reverence and over a long period of time.
Most spiritual teachers agree that the best time to practice is between 4:30 and 6 am, before the natural rhythms of life begin to stir. Not to mention that the light and dark influence our states or moods and bio-rhythms. However this just might not be practical for the average person.
That said, experts generally advise you practice early in the morning or in the evening. Both of these times have distinct advantages. Choose the time that allows you, and your body, to engage fully and clearly.
You’ll often hear teachers advise early morning yoga. There are a number of reasons for this. Practicing yoga on an empty stomach helps to boost your circulation, wakes you up, and stretches the stiff muscles that have been unused all through the night. Also, poses like Sun Salutations, including Downward-facing Dog, Cobra, and Plank will open up your lungs and get your heart pumping while keeping you both grounded and energized.
On the other hand, some people find their bodies are too stiff in the morning, making practice difficult. You want your body to feel limber, and for some, this only happens at a different time of day. Or, an early morning practice may be impractical because of children, work, or other everyday life concerns. If a 5 am practice just won’t work with your sleep schedule, an evening practice may be a better option.
If you choose to practice in the evening, most yoga teachers advise the best time to practice yoga is at sunset. Evening yoga can help calm your mind after a long day, relieve stress, and is a great defense against insomnia.
Of course, night practice can also limit the kinds of postures you do. Some poses may be too stimulating and affect your sleep, or you may be too tired at the end of the day to allow for an effective, rejuvenating practice. If the evening is the most convenient time for your practice, try incorporating relaxing poses like Child’s Pose, forward bends with baby back bends to neutralize your spine, or the Reclining Bound Angle to de-stress and detoxify.
The best time to practice yoga comes down to the time that works best for you. Experiment with your practice to find a time that works for your body and for your schedule. The most important part is to have a regular practice that you can keep up with. And whether you chose a morning practice or an evening practice, be sure to end with five minutes of Savasana, known as corpse pose, to act as a relaxing transition between your practice and your day or sleep.