am vs pm yoga practices : benefits of establishing your yoga ritual during different times of day
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Setting up a regular yoga routine is beneficial because it creates a personal ritual and impacts your life beyond your mat. Although traditional yogic texts promote the hours of 4am to 6am as being the time of day most conductive for meditation and yoga practices (when our mind is said to be at its stillest), in our fast-paced society it's important to find a yoga ritual that feels best to you and that you're able to commit to.
Yoga shows up in the way that we need it to most. Our practices can be hugely energizing and stimulating or they can be divinely calming and relaxing. Sometimes (ideally!) a combination of both. A morning practice will wake you for the day and leave you feeling like you can take on your world where an evening practice will restore you and prepare you for healing as you sleep. Whatever time you feel that you show up best to your yoga practice, you're setting yourself up for a healthier day; reduced stress, depression and anxiety levels; more balanced hormones; self-care....the list goes on. And on. And on.
Yoga shows up in the way that we need it to most.
The point is to establish a routine to arrive on your mat as often as you can. Trying to decide what time of day is best for your personal yoga practice?
Check out the benefits of practicing under the sun and stars.
The benefits of a yoga practice with the rising sun.
1. Starting your day with yoga might give you energy & help you cut your morning coffee.
Feeling tired? While you might assume that waking up earlier can make you feel more tired...an early morning practice might give the opposite effect. For many, yoga in the morning feels like an energy boost. By moving and oxygenating your cells, your entire body becomes reinvigorated. Focused prana or breath stimulates your body and mind. This energy boost can serve you all day long and with a routine, might eventually help you to cut back or cut out caffeine intake altogether.
Take your morning yoga routine a step further and carve space for a DAILY morning practice to awaken your main energy chakras. You'll start to feel more consistent boosted energy levels.
2. Create extra time in your day.
Want to know the secret to finding more time in your day? Wake up earlier. Highly "successful" people are said to generally wake up earlier. If you find that you are craving some extra time, set your clock earlier and rise before the sun. Not only will you grab all of the other benefits of a morning yoga practice, but you'll be ready to tackle your day earlier than you would have otherwise - with your self-care and workout completed (so you might even create extra evening hours for yourself with this early am routine).
3. Give your metabolism an extra boost.
Exercising first thing in the morning can be a great way to rev up your metabolism for the day. Kicking off your day with intelligent movement will warm and awaken your digestive system, allowing nutrients to move more easily. Add in poses which are known to stimulate your digestive track anyway (cat cow, twists, Ardha Pawamuktasana just to name a few!) and you're on your way to more regulated and accelerated metabolism
4. Feel extra focused all day long.
It's important to start your day with a clear mind so that you can focus on the tasks ahead of you. This is one reason that a morning meditation practice is highly recommended. When you take the time to connect to your breath, intentions and feeling good about yourself...you'll find it translate into focused energy and efforts with continued feel-good vibes throughout your day.
5. Kick off your day with reduced stress levels.
Yoga feels great and can reduce stress, depression and anxiety any time of the day. However, starting your day with yoga is like setting the tone for your waking hours. Sure, all the stuff will still come up but when you begin your day feeling more relaxed and with a natural mood boost, you'll be ready to face the world from a lighter and more positive perspective.
6. Start your day with some self-care.
Think about the benefits that extend into your world and beyond when you begin your day taking time and actually showing up...for yourself.
By beginning your day with yoga, you show yourself how important it is to take care of your mind and body. You set yourself up for all of the above ways that you function at your best. By default, you'll be a happier person for your community around you.
The benefits of a yoga practice with the setting sun.
1. Quiet your mind.
We live in a fast paced world and sometimes it is difficult to wind down, especially if we are stimulated right up until bedtime. Consider shutting the noise (TV, phone, laptop) down earlier and dedicate the last bit of your evening to a soothing yoga practice. The action of softening your breath and soothing your body will translate into your thoughts and mind settling down as well.
2. Soothe away tension and stress that came up during your day.
In addition to quieting your mind, the benefits of an evening yoga practice can extend to calm tension, stress and even fight or flight feelings in your body that came up during the day. The action of asana to breath affects your body by relaxing your nervous system. It also gives your body something to focus on other than the stressful interaction or situation you encountered.
3. Find a more meditative practice.
There is something about a quiet, dimly lit practice that super lends itself to getting more present and grounded. If you are looking for a true mind-body connection and reaching a more meditative state within your practice, consider placing your yoga at the end of your day. With the day behind you, focusing on your breath and quieting your mind might just become more available.
4. Your yoga might feel a bit more accessible.
Do you wake up feeling tight in your spine, hips, shoulders and joints in the morning? Do you find that when you practice yoga in the morning, you can't stretch as deeply? While diving into a morning practice can alleviate tension and even combat it long term, evening yoga might feel better in your body. Big muscle groups like hamstrings will be warmer from use during the day and you will most likely find that you can move deeper into your poses. You'll also be able to tackle soreness that came up from the day.
5. Set yourself up for replenishing sleep.
A Harvard study found noticeable improvements on sleep conditions and quality when incorporating yoga. Yoga engages your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your rest and digest functions (opposite of fight or flight). This engagement allows your body to relax and can help to put your body in a sleepy state sooner (less lying awake, tossing and turning).
By practicing yoga breath techniques, you might decrease snoring. Snoring can arise from incorrect breathing. Regulating your breath through yoga could positively impact your breath as you sleep as well. Snoring can also be caused by obesity, stress, circulation issues, sinus problems and more. A regular yoga practice can overtime ease snoring due to these causes as well.
6. Go deep(er) in savasana.
Just here for the savasana? Any yogi will giggle at the irony of that saying, telling you that savasana can be one of the most difficult poses within your practice. The act of quieting your mind is not always easy and comes from much practice. Where you might feel a bit more inclined to rush off your mat and into your day during a morning practice, an evening practice might lend you more time for savasana and even a calmer overall space to move deeper into this state.
The point is to establish a routine to arrive on your mat as often as you can.
The ideal? Yoga morning AND night! If you can't make it to your mat twice a day, consider different factors. What type of yoga are you practicing (power yoga might lend itself better to gearing up your energy level in the morning and yin yoga might calm your mind a little extra before bedtime) and in general what FEELS best for your personal practice. It might even change for you from day to day.
Whatever gets you to your mat, yogi.
Enjoy your practice, Namaste.
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