Have you ever wondered when the best time for your yoga practice is? The answer might be a bit more complex than you think!
From a bio and physiological standpoint, some would claim after a fast (at least 8 hours since last eating). Being as both yoga and fasting are purification processes when practiced together they can compliment each other and can amplify the benefits. Following this line of thinking, the morning would be the best time for you to practice yoga.
Others with a more spiritual perspective, may make the point that every moment of the day has specific characteristics, much like each yoga practice has specific characteristics, as does each year, season, and individual yogi.
Taking all these factors into consideration, it become quite clear that this answer is not a simple one. Nevertheless, I'm going to try and keep it as simple as possible.
Through the teachings of yoga, we know everything is composed of 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space). In Ayurveda, these elements are grouped by quality likenesses: earth and water (heavy, cool, stable), fire (hot, light, mobile), and air & space (light, fresh, unstable).
It is believed that when the elements are in balance within one, ones mental and physical self is also in balance (aka healthy). Likewise, when out of balance, one can observe physical and/or mental distress, sometimes even disease.
Additionally, certain times of day, the year, and stage of ones life can impact the levels of each individual element. Different yoga practices have the ability to alter and rebalance these elements.
First let's consider the impact that time of day can have on these elements. We'll start by dividing the day into 2 phases: ascending and descending, which more or less follow the rising and setting of the sun. Alternatively, we can subdivide into 3 phases that are more instinctual:
- Morning (6am-11am) - earth and water tend to be dominate
- Afternoon (11am-4pm) - fire is the dominate element
- Evening (4pm-9pm) - air and space will be most present
What this means is that a yoga practice that aligns with the predominate elements of the individual can have unintended results. A very slow yoga practice early in the morning (if the yogi is already has a predominance to water and earth) can cause lethargy and physical/mental heaviness. Instead, they may benefit more from a faster or power practice that is dominate in fire. This should adjust the balance of these elements, providing additional energy and wellbeing.
At the end of the day, there isn't one definitive time of day that's better or worse for your yoga practice. It all depends on the individual and their balance (of elements, emotions, desires, etc.). Your practice is designed to support you, so the best time for you to practice, is when that practice benefits you the most.
Until next week!