Yoga has been associated with the movement of the sun and moon, and the passing of time. The Surya Namaskar sequence (Sun Salutations), is usually practiced at sunrise. However, you might need to look inward and feel how you are feeling, and how time of day may affect how you practice.
Continue reading to learn how to optimize your practice based on the time of day.
The mind is temporarily awakened from sleep. It’s somewhere in the middle of the dream world and the world full of to-dos. Our first thoughts each morning are a sign of where our energy and thoughts are directed. It can help you focus and clear your mind before you face the day by practicing a short morning meditation.
Morning yoga is all about pressing the “reset” button and releasing any toxins from the night. This will allow the blood, lymph, and circulation to get moving again. Pranayama practices such as Kappalabhati or Bhastrikabreath are effective in stimulating the sinuses and clearing them. Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breath) is a great way to calm your mind and create a relaxed state of focus. You can also start your day with energizing practices like Surya Namaskar or anything that feels rhythmic.
Mid-morning in Ayurveda is considered a kaphatime, which is governed by the qualities heaviness and lethargy, water, earth, and water. You’ll find it easier to do a longer practice of yoga that requires endurance and stamina. Slower paced sequences are more supported. You should not get stuck in a rut when you practice at this time of the day. Kapha-type energy has a tendency to set people up and make them resistant to change. You can try something new and experiment with something that interests you.
Yogic texts state that digestion is one key to good health and well-being. You can eat all the greens you want and drink all the super-food juices you like all day. But, if your digestive system isn’t able to absorb the nutrients, it won’t matter how many. Anything that looks like a twist or backbend and anything that activates your core can help to ‘fire up” digestion before lunch. This means you have a greater chance of getting the vitamins and minerals in the food.
Surya Bhedana, or “right channel activation”, refers to breathing in and outside of the right nostril to activate the subtle channel that runs through the body and is linked to digestion, action and fire, and helps improve digestive power. It is crucial to practice being present and aware at lunchtime, especially for those who are quick-eaters, desk-diners, or skipping lunch altogether. Practice slow breathing into your stomach, allowing you to take your time and use all your senses.
The’mid-afternoon slump” you may feel sometimes is normal. Many cultures still take a nap or a siesta during the afternoon. Research shows that our circadian rhythms naturally dip in the afternoon. Regular naps can increase brainpower, physical agility, and overall wellbeing.
Yoga Nidra is a great alternative to napping. It helps the body to relax deeply and restores the mind. This allows the mind to focus and move in a different way, which makes the rest of the day more productive.
Even if you have been working all day, an evening could be your prime time to do a movement-based yoga class. This will help you distinguish between work and personal time. Anything that you enjoy and that requires concentration but isn’t work-like would be a good practice. This is especially important if your day is filled with rigidity, rules, and stiffness.
It is a good time to take the time to think about how you feel and not just repeat the same routine. Do you feel exhausted by rushing all day? You might find a relaxing Hatha, or Yang yoga class that is slow and soothing. Are you tired of sitting still or feeling stressed? To release stored energy, try a Vinyasa and Mixed Motion class.
Relaxing Pranayama practices such as slow, abdominal breathing, can help prepare the brain for bed. Chandra Bhedana, or ‘left channel activation,’ which activates the lunar, feminine qualities, calmness, and coolness, can also be helpful. Relaxing and focusing on your breath can help you calm down and relax after a hectic day. To further relax your mind and comfort your body, you can try restorative yoga or Yoga Nidra.