For busy yogis, it may never seem like there is never enough time for your daily yoga practice. In many cases, the best time to do yoga is during your greatest span of free time so that you can get the most out of your practice.
However, if your schedule is flexible, you should consider experimenting with practicing yoga at different times of the day so that you can learn more about your body; for example, by practicing in the evening, you may find that your body rests better at night with a long stretch before bed.
In the Morning
Traditionally speaking, morning is viewed as the best time to practice yoga, specifically during Brahma muhurta (which starts one hour 36 minutes before sunrise and lasts for 48 minutes). When you practice any type of exercise before breakfast, you also unlock health benefits, including a lowered risk for cardiovascular disease.
In terms of yoga, the morning is the best time to practice asanas and pranayama for self-reflection, inner peace, and even a heightened sense of spirituality. This makes sense, too, because the morning typically offers a quiet and possibly dark time for your practice, which can make it easier to focus with fewer distractions.
A morning yoga practice can also boost your metabolism and give you a great sense of energy to get your day started.
During the morning, it is best to practice high-energy yoga asanas, including sun salutations and vinyasas, and it is a good idea to avoid slow practices, such as a yin practice, to prevent falling back asleep.
In general, any practice that increases the heart rate is a good choice to try in the early morning hours.
In the Afternoon
While practicing yoga in the afternoon is less common than any other time, it does come with great benefits, such as unlocking the key to living a long and healthy life. An afternoon practice can act as a great stress reliever, especially when performed during a break from work or other daily commitments.
Even the NFL’s New Orleans Saints have a personal yoga instructor who teaches in the afternoons to improve the teams' performance. This is because, during the afternoon, just a short yoga session can boost mental focus, slow fatigue in the body, and curb anxiety.
The type of yoga you may want to try in the midday hours depends on the goals you want to achieve from your practice. If you are aiming for a boost of energy, try the same asanas you would in a morning practice. If you are looking for a chance to relieve stress, try a yin yoga practice or calming pranayama techniques.
In the Evening
Yoga has been proven to improve sleep quality in a number of people, including older adults and women. While the benefit of better sleep can result from practicing at any time of the day, some yogis find that doing yoga right before bed can make falling asleep and staying asleep easier. In many cases, this is because evening yoga can relax the body's muscles and ease stress with mindful breathing.
Yin or restorative yoga is best practiced in the evening when the body does not necessarily need the energy boost of other asanas. Slow flows like these can release tension in the muscles, which sometimes helps ward off soreness and minor pains.
While there are benefits to practicing early in the morning, in the afternoon, or late in the evening, the best time for every yogi to practice will vary.
For some, morning practices may put too much stress on the back after waking up while, for others, an evening practice won't be able to offer the energy needed to get through the day.
When choosing the best time for you to do yoga, focus on what your individual mind and body needs.