Whether it's the moment you wake up or right before you go to bed, the time at which you practice yoga is entirely up to you. It depends on your schedule and your body's rhythms. What mattes is that you do it — morning practices and evening practices both offer value.
Some people find a morning practice refreshing, energizing and inspiring — just what they need to start their day. Others rely on yoga to unwind and process a day's passing. You might even find that you choose a different practice, depending on the day of the week.
Sticking to an absolute time for practice may negate the benefits of yoga. If you get stressed out trying to squeeze yoga in at an unnatural time for you, you lose some of the relaxing benefits of the practice. Forcing the practice at a time that's not convenient also makes it more likely that its regularity will suffer — it's hard to keep up a practice that just doesn't fit your lifestyle.
Value of Morning Practice
Practicing yoga first thing in the morning offers you a way to clear your mind and get your body ready for the day. Energizing poses, such as backbends and sun salutations, feature prominently in a morning session.
The morning is often the coolest part of the day, especially if you live in a warm climate, making it a good time to exert yourself. Many people wake up feeling stiff, and an early morning yoga practice can help get the kinks out.
If you practice before eating, you'll also benefit from having an empty stomach. Twists and challenging arm balances come easier when you're not competing with digestion.
Yoga in the morning sets the tone for the day. It gives you time to set goals and reflect on the ways you'll deal with challenges posed by your family, friends and coworkers. If you can manage to squeeze in a practice in the morning, you're also more likely to get it done that day. The later you push it, the more conflicts that come up, derailing your best intentions.
An evening yoga practice is best for those who just don't do mornings. It can also help you wind down from a busy day, especially if you make it a more calming practice that includes twists and forward folds.
You may find you have more time in the evening and don't feel as rushed to finish your asanas. If it becomes a bedtime routine, yoga can get your mind and body ready so you fall asleep faster. Concluding your yoga practice with meditation further preps your mind and body for bed.
An evening practice can also help with habits you're trying to break -- such as snacking or binge watching reality television. Practice yoga instead.
Ultimately, You Choose
No one time is right for anyone to practice; you have to find a time of day that matches your schedule. If your morning is full of getting kids ready for school, making breakfast, walking dogs and barely making it out the door on time, committing to a morning practice may be unrealistic. The same is true in the evening — if you're often committed to evening functions and find you're tired at the end of the day, you may be better off practicing in the morning.
Your own constitution plays a role, too. Even if you have all the time in the world in the morning, if you need an hour or two to get going, a morning practice may just not be for you. Conversely, those who crash early will lose enthusiasm for night-time warriors.
The way to determine what's best is to be honest with yourself and experiment. Dedicate yourself to a morning practice for a week. Be diligent and see if it adds to your quality of life. The next week, switch it up and try for a nightly yoga practice. You may find benefits in both and that some days a certain time works better than others. It's your practice — take ownership of it.
Read More: 10 Yoga Poses for a Better Night's Sleep