Yoga is an ancient practice known for its numerous physical and mental health benefits, including increased flexibility, improved strength, reduced stress, and better overall health.
While yoga can be practiced at any time of the day, there are some opinions on when is the best time to do yoga.
In this article, we will explore:
- Perspectives from Ayurveda
- Perspectives from Science
- 5 other factors to consider
Best time to do Yoga according to Ayurveda
Early morning after waking is typically the best
According to Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, the best time to do yoga is in the morning, between 6 am and 10 am.
This is known as the Kapha time of day, which is considered to be the best time for physical activity and exercise.
According to Ayurvedic Practitioner and Yoga Therapist Kathryn Templeton, waking around dawn while Vata is transcendent prevents sluggishness from kicking in.
If you consider aligning your asana practice with your dosha constitution and body type, the Ayurvedic clock is a reliable guide. According to Ayurveda, each dosha has a suggested awakening time in the morning.
- Kapha dosha is advised to rise one hour before sunrise, during the Vata time, to benefit from the lightness of energy during that period.
- Pitta dosha thrives by waking up 30 minutes before sunrise.
- Vata dosha, needing ample time for nourishment and rest, is recommended to wake up with the sunrise.
However, it’s important to note that these timings can vary based on your location and the season. Consequently, the best time to do yoga practice is approximately 30 minutes after waking up.
The body’s flexibility also tends to be greater in the morning, making an early wake-up conducive to facilitating optimal movement.Additionally, practicing yoga in the morning can give a sense of accomplishment, help to stimulate the digestive system, promote mental clarity, and improve overall energy levels throughout the day.
Afternoon yoga can be beneficial
By the mid-afternoon, especially early during the Vata time window of 2-6 pm, you might experience fatigue and a slight depletion of energy, particularly if you’re experiencing a caffeine crash, or had a heavy lunch.
You might consider taking an afternoon yoga break or engaging in restorative yoga. This is particularly advantageous for Vata types, as well as busy individuals with Pitta constitutions.
Additionally, the afternoon could also be considered the best time to do yoga if you want to practice pranayama, or breath control exercises, which can further enhance rejuvenation and balance to sustain your energy and focus through the rest of the evening.
Best time to do Yoga according to Science:
The general consensus is that the best time to do yoga is early morning.
Engaging in a yoga practice early in the morning, particularly after a restful night’s sleep, offers numerous physical benefits.
Morning is the best time for physical health benefits
Firstly, there is a high probability of being in a fasted state upon waking up.
According to Kreg Weiss, a Yoga Teacher and Kinesiologist, practicing yoga on an empty stomach allows for quicker access to energy stores such as muscles, the liver, and body fat. This enables the body to dedicate its full energy to the practice.
Second, an invigorating morning yoga practice can help you ignite your metabolic fire, reducing the need for you to rely on your morning cup of coffee to feel focused and alert.
The benefits of an early workout are well-documented, and yoga is no exception. Yoga’s unique movements offer additional advantages: forward bends increase oxygenated blood flow to the brain, and twists help stimulate the organs and promote digestive movement.
Dr. Phyllis Zee, Professor of Neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, also shares how aligning your circadian rhythm with the sunrise is impactful for your health.
According to Zee, light is a potent agent for synchronizing your internal body clock, which regulates circadian rhythms and energy balance.
Dedicating time each morning to loosen your joints does wonders for their health and longevity. It helps prevent aches and pains that come from sitting in a fixed position at the desk for long hours, which many of us do due to the nature of our work.
Additionally, it’ll empower you to feel lithe and energized throughout the day, making a noticeable difference in your well-being and levels of focus.
Morning yoga & meditation also brings mental health benefits
Renowned lifehacker and productivity specialist Tim Ferriss suggests starting the day with mindfulness practice and a workout to achieve a successful morning.
A morning mindfulness practice helps reduce your emotional reactivity so you can proactively shape your day according to your intentions, rather than being reactive when challenges or obstacles come your way.
Other Perspectives: 5 Factors to consider to choose the Best Time to Do Yoga
While scientific research and Ayurveda offer some insight into when is the best time to do yoga, there are also other perspectives to consider.
Consider these five factors before deciding the best time to do yoga for you:
1. Work Schedule
Remember that the best time to do yoga is when you can make it a consistent part of your daily routine.
If you have a busy work schedule and often have to work late or start the day very early, it can be challenging to find time to rise early for yoga before you start your day.
In this case, you might want to opt for a short yet potent 15 – 20 minute meditation and yoga practice before you start your day as I do, and make time instead for a longer practice of 30 – 60 minutes in the evening after work when you are more likely to have some free time.
Just 10 minutes of yoga can reap amazing benefits like better balance, focus and sense of well-being.
2. Family Schedule
If you have family responsibilities, such as taking care of children, it can be challenging to find time to practice yoga.
In this case, the best time to do yoga for you may be in the afternoon during nap times or after the children have gone to bed.
3. Personal Preference
Everyone’s body clock and energy levels are different, and some people may find that they feel more energized or focused at different times of the day.
If you’re not sure when is the best time to do yoga, try practicing at different times of the day and see what works best for you.
There’s no pressure to follow a set structure!
4. Yoga Style
The best time will also depend on what style of yoga you decide to practice; different yoga styles may have different effects on the body and mind.
Some styles, such as Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Flow or Power Yoga, are more physically challenging, energizing, and up-regulating and, thus, may be best practiced in the morning when the body is fresh and alert.
5. Other Health/Life Considerations
You may want to align your yoga practice according to the four seasons of your menstrual cycle to sustain your energy and help your body rejuvenate and cleanse, for example.
If you have a health condition or injury, it’s essential to speak with your healthcare provider before starting yoga. Your healthcare provider may be able to recommend the best time to do yoga based on your individual needs.
3 Tips for Practicing Yoga at the Best Time for you
Once you’ve determined when is the best time to do yoga for you, follow these tips to help you get the most out of your practice:
1. Create a Habit
If it’s available to you, try to practice yoga at the same time every day. This can help you establish a routine and make it easier to stick to your yoga practice.
2. Be Consistent
Consistency is key to getting the most benefits from your yoga practice.
A regular practice will bring you longer-lasting benefits, such as a better range of motion and flexibility, reduction in stress over sustained periods of time, better posture, and faster results.
Make an effort to practice yoga regularly, whether it’s every day or a few times a week.
3. Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to how your body feels during and after your yoga practice.
If you feel tired or fatigued, you may need to adjust the time of day you practice yoga or the duration or style of yoga you practice based on your needs.
Ultimately, the best time to do yoga may depend on your preference and schedule.
Whether you choose to practice in the morning, afternoon, or evening, the most important thing is to make it a regular part of your routine in order to reap the physical and mental benefits of this ancient practice.
If you’re not a morning person, practicing yoga in the morning may not be feasible or enjoyable for you. On the other hand, if you find that practicing yoga in the evening helps you unwind and relax after a long day, then that may be the best time for you.
So, find the best time to do yoga that works for you! Make it a part of your daily routine for a healthier, happier life.