Best time to do yoga: should you practice at morning or night?

This guide will nail down when's the best time to do yoga, whether it's Ashtanga in the a.m. or power yoga in the p.m.

Young woman practicing yoga at home, using yoga app on digital tablet
(Image credit: Getty)

We know all the benefits of yoga, but what's the best time to do yoga? The ancient practice can help you relax, increase your flexibility, give you energy, help you lose weight, and decrease stress. However, timing is key to unlock those myriad benefits: it's important to note that some poses are energizing while others are calming, which is why, traditionally, yoga is practiced early in the morning or in the evening.

Yoga can be incredibly invigorating in the a.m. as a literal salute to the morning sun; while in the evening, it can be a powerful way to unwind and relax after a long day. While there are advantages to both, it ultimately comes down to your individual goals and daily schedule. So stock up on some sustainable activewear, break out the best yoga mats you can get your hands on, and let's get your yoga schedule settled. 

When is the best time to do yoga?

Wake up with morning yoga

Unrolling your yoga mat first thing in the morning is a great way to kickstart your day. A morning yoga session will start your day on the right foot by allowing you to clear your mind, improve your focus, and give you a burst of energy for the day ahead. It can also stimulate your metabolism because yoga promotes healthy digestion and stabilizes blood sugar levels. 

If you wake up with aches or stiffness, a simple stretching routine can minimize the pain as you gently increase flexibility, mobility, and muscle strength. Yoga can be an effective way to beat stress and anxiety, too: this is because yoga has a calming effect and the power to change the body's stress-response systems by decreasing heart rate variability. 

Some of the best yoga positions to include in your morning routine are:

  • Sun salutations
  • Seated twist
  • Cat-cow
  • Eagle pose
  • Bridge pose
  • Spinal twist 

Yoga is an excellent way to start your day mindfully and take time for yourself before your hectic life gets in the way. But, if you're just not a morning person, an evening yoga session can be beneficial, too.

Silhouette of woman doing yoga at sunset

(Image credit: Getty)

Relax with evening yoga

A morning yoga routine just doesn't work for some people. Whether you're a night owl or your mornings are too much of a frenzy to fit a full workout in, an evening yoga routine has many significant advantages.

A nighttime practice just before you go to bed will get your body ready for a night of deep, restful sleep. Studies have shown that mind-body therapy, including yoga, promotes better sleep and can effectively treat insomnia. Doing yoga stimulates your body's relaxation response, which will help your mind calm down and let go of the day's stress. It can also ease any tension, aches, or pains that may have surfaced during your day. Yoga in the evening will end your day on a positive, peaceful note. Being in a better mood as you fall asleep means you'll wake up refreshed and restored.  

The important thing to remember with an evening yoga session is that it's a time to wind down and de-stress: opt for slower, calming poses instead of anything too stimulating. Some poses to work into your evening routine include:

  • Child's pose
  • Standing forward bends
  • Downward facing dog
  • Pigeon
  • Reclining twist

How to find the best time to do yoga for you

While there are individual benefits to morning and evening yoga sessions, it comes down to finding the time that works best for you. To get the most benefit, it's all about consistency over time. Think about your goals, when you have the most energy, when you're most motivated, and when you have dedicated time free of distractions, and form your routine accordingly. Find the time that best fits your lifestyle and schedule, and it'll be easier to stick with it.

 The only time to avoid doing yoga is right after a meal. Any kind of exercise on a full stomach can be uncomfortable, so it's recommended to wait at least two hours after eating before stepping on your yoga mat. 

Certain times of day are better for practice depending on your specific goals. If you want to lose weight, do yoga at a time when you have the most energy and are most excited to work up a sweat. To gain the most flexibility, try practicing in the afternoon or evening when your body is already warmed up and flexible. If your goal is relaxation, evening or nighttime practice is best, keeping in line with your body's natural Circadian rhythm. Be sure to wait until after all of your family duties are done (putting the kids to bed, doing chores, etc.), so you can be present and focus on your practice with no distractions or disturbances. 

Finding the time that makes the most sense for you is key to staying consistent and unlocking yoga's incredible benefit on your mind, body and life.