Have you ever taken a yoga class for a specific reason, only to be disappointed with its result? That’s because it didn’t coincide with your objective. We partake in every activity for a different reason, correct? Well yoga practice shouldn’t be any different. In fact, it’s not.
Many people don’t know this, but there is a HUGE difference in the purpose of attending yoga class in the evening vs. in the morning.
Let’s take a look at evening yoga first, as it is more popular in a classroom setting.
Evening yoga should prepare you for sleep
Many yoga teachers believe that you should be only practicing restorative or gentle yoga in the evening, focusing on staying in one pose for an extended period of time. It’s true that the type of movement you do in the evening should allow you to stay in each asana (pose) for a longer time than you would in the morning. The type of asanas you do would allow you to unload yourself of any remaining stress for the day, thus making it easier to fall asleep.
BUT, imagine arriving at the studio, beginning the class, and holding the Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose) for 60 seconds…
Will you make it to 120 seconds?
You probably will, but what’s the point? For a lot of people who come to yoga, their work is very static. You may get up to talk with some colleagues, or go from your desk to the meeting room, or downstairs for lunch. Other than that, your movement is limited. You’re challenged mentally throughout the day, but not physically. This is why evening yoga practice has to complete this task of wearing someone out. Does laying on the floor for a while wear you out?
No, not really, because it takes no effort. In fact, you’ll start to get frustrated. What’s the point of laying down after work if your mind is ready to relax but your body isn’t? You’re not sleeping and you’re not exercising, so why partake in this laying or sitting or stretching for a prolonged period of time?
You shouldn’t. Here’s what you do instead:
Before you begin any activity that involves stretching, it’s necessary to warm up. You can’t stretch clay after it’s been sitting for so long in the cold, right? You have to roll it and mold it every which way. If you try to stretch it, it’ll just break. The same is true with our muscles. In the evening, they’re not cold per se because you haven’t been sleeping all day, but they’re not warm because you weren’t doing rigorous activity. So in order to stretch out the muscles, you have to warm them up. In the evening, however, there is less of a necessity to warm up as vigorously. (We’re trying to go to sleep, remember? We’re not trying to get pumped up.) You can even do dynamic stretches rather than warm up because of the fact that you were moving throughout the day.
In evening yoga practice, it is beneficial to include poses such as: Uttanasana (standing forward bend), Prasarita Padottanasana (wide-legged forward bend), Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend), and by the time you’re done you can do a restorative yoga pose such as Viparita Karani (legs-up-the-wall).
The point of doing these is to tire out your muscles, otherwise they’ll be screaming at night, telling you to get up for a run. No, go to sleep muscles!
Morning yoga should prepare you for an active day
Time for a nice, big cup of coffee, right? …Or you can try something that gently moves you from unconscious, to conscious, to ready to get going! Coffee can be great if you want a sudden jolt, but it’s far more effective to start your day gradually than it is to wake up with a go-go-go mentality. In this way, you will experience less stress.
You should do the same kind of transition with yoga practice in the morning. Start out light, and then gradually go for the fun stuff. But once you get to the fun stuff, you can do it very fast-paced. This includes the warm-up. You were sleeping at night, remember? (That’s if you wore out your muscles enough the previous evening.) So you need to warm them up completely.
Remember when I mentioned getting pumped up in the evening is a no-no? Well the opposite is true for morning yoga practice. Say this to your muscles as soon as you wake up:
ARE YOU READY TO GET PUMPED UP?
Your muscles will get so excited!
So let’s warm up and get ready to stay in asanas for a shorter period of time than you would in the evening because you’re trying to get your muscles to get going. Starting off with warrior poses is a great way to do that.
In morning yoga practice, it is beneficial to include poses such as: Trikonasana (triangle pose), Utkata Konasana (goddess pose), Matsyasana (fish pose), and Ardha Uttanasana (standing half forward bend).
The point of doing these poses is to activate your muscles, making it easier for blood to pump through your body and especially to your head, otherwise it’ll be more difficult for you to get your daily tasks done.
What kind of things do you do to improve the quality of your day? Let us know!
We’ll be posting morning and evening sequences soon so that you start practising! Let us know what other types of videos you’d like us to cover. Ciao for now!