The time of the day at which you practice yoga is entirely up to you. It depends on your schedule and your body and life’s rhythm. Morning and evening practices both offer value. There’s no right or wrong here. What matters is that you get on your mat. Regularly. Consistently.
My personal preference goes to the morning, when the atmosphere is fresh, quiet and MAGIC. The rest of the world hasn’t yet sprung into action. Time is all mine, with no distraction around. I don’t know about you but the later I push things in the day, the more conflicts that come up, derailing even my best intentions.
What works best for me is to set the alarm for my desired wake-up time and NOT hit the snooze button. Once I’m up and out of bed, I hop in something super comfy and head straight to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. It leaves me feeling more alert and refreshed. A cup of water later, I’m on the mat, ready to salute the sun.
The benefits of morning yoga are countless. Here are just a few examples to put you in the mood for it.
It brings awareness to the breath. Starting the day with yoga means you’re starting the day cultivating breath awareness. Putting all your attention on the breath first thing the morning makes it easier to keep a high(er) quality of breath throughout the day.
It gets you on the move. If you tend to wake up feeling stiff, an early morning yoga practice will help get the kinks out. And if your day is mostly spent sitting at a desk or in a car, a morning yoga practice is precious medicine for the body.
It sets your mental tone. Yoga in the morning sets the mood for the day. It gives you time to set goals and priorities. It allows you to take a step back and reflect on the ways you’ll deal with challenges posed by family, friends and coworkers.
It boosts your digestive fire. Yoga postures gently massage your internal organs and increase the circulation of the digestive system, making it far more efficient at releasing toxins and properly metabolizing the vitamins and minerals from your food.
Extra bonus: if you practice before eating, you’ll also benefit from having an empty stomach. Twists and challenging arm balances come easier when you’re not competing with digestion.
It encourages better sleep habits. We all know how important sleep is to our health. An early morning practice encourages you to get the rest you need and making your bedtime a priority.
Give it a try and go for quality, not quantity
You don’t have to be on your mat for a full hour. 30 minutes are plenty and 15 are good enough if it’s all you have. Start with gentle bends and twists to warm-up the neck and spine followed by a few stretches to awaken the entire body. Flowing into suns salutations is the best way to create heat. While taking a moment at the end in savasana will offer the body, mind and spirit a bath of pure energy.
And who said morning yoga is all about the postures? On certain days, you can also use that time to meditate. Finding stillness, becoming aware of your thoughts and observing them rather than getting caught up in them will prove very beneficial too.
As always, the best thing to do is try and see for yourself. It may take you a few days to get into the routine, but you’ll immediately notice the benefits. And I’ pretty sure you’ll feel better on the days you practice than on the days your mat stays rolled up.
All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. – Robin Sharma