If you are new to yoga, you may be wondering what time is the best time to get on your mat? Indeed, you probably have the image of yogis getting up at dawn to practice. But on the other hand, you've probably already noticed that yoga classes in the West tend to take place in the evening? So what are the benefits of practicing yoga in the evening? And which exercises to focus on for evening yoga? In this article, I explain everything about evening yoga practice.
What do we mean by Evening Yoga?
In general, when you are looking for information about evening yoga, you will be mostly told about the exercises to do just before going to bed. This type of yoga would therefore be more like a practice after 8pm.
For my part, I consider evening yoga to be any practice that takes place in the late afternoon or evening. This is the time after your day's obligations, when the calm begins to take place outside and the night slowly begins to fall. 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm or after... This is often the time of yoga classes that you could take near your home.
Practice Evening Yoga
In Indian traditions, it is the practice of yoga in the morning that is most valued. In Ayurveda, it is advised to get up during the Brahma Muhurta period, which is about an hour before sunrise (48 minutes to 1h30 to be exact). This would be the ideal time for spiritual practices, especially meditation. Indeed, during this period, the vital energy is at its maximum and pollution, not only of the air, but also of sound and sight, is at its minimum.
The Vedic texts insist on the fact that the atmosphere present during this period has a considerable effect on the human being. The biological clock naturally synchronizes itself with the circadian cycle, which allows the body to fight against aging and preserve its health. This also has a beneficial effect on the mind with a deep sense of vitality.
So that's the theory. In reality, getting up during this period would correspond to waking up around 4:30 in summer and around 7:00 or even 7:30 in winter. A little too early for some, a little too late for others. And let's not talk about the yogis who live under the polar circle, where the day does not rise at all for a few weeks...
The evening Yoga
So it's true, traditionally, yoga should not be practiced after sunset. However, in real life, let's be honest, the morning is more like a race against time. For many people, it will be difficult to find the time to get up to practice yoga. So why not practice in the evening?
You might say: "Yes, but in the evening, between overtime, traffic jams, the meal to prepare, shopping to do... I don't have time either! "In this case, you can also choose your ideal practice time. You can imagine a "yoga during the lunch break" or a "yoga during the little ones' nap". In short, the ideal practice time is the time when you can actually practice.
For a long time, I found it difficult to establish a yoga routine in my daily life. In the morning, as I said here, it was quite complicated... And in the evening, I always had better things to do than to think about rolling out the mat. Until one day I decided to make that half hour of yoga a priority. So, as often as possible, at 6pm, I now sit in the middle of the living room for a little session. It's true, there are days when I'm not at home, when I take yoga classes outside and there are really too many things to do. As a result, this routine is more like every other day in reality... But when it's impossible to set up, I really feel that it's time to make up for it the next day!
Personally, I love practicing yoga at the end of my day and I find it has a lot of benefits, in addition to its practicality in my schedule. Let's take a look at some of these aspects together.
Evening Yoga: What are the benefits of practicing yoga in the evening?
Often our day goes by at a crazy pace. And each time, it confronts us with many emotions. How often do we get angry? How often do we show impatience, judgment or regret? We encounter noises that annoy us. We are bathed in negative waves. And things don't always go our way. All this tends to make us feel particularly tired and weary at the end of the day.
But often, we continue to do this after we get home. Watching negative and violent programs on TV, accumulating things to do... It is so normal to lack patience with the people around us and to feel less available. So often the cup is full, but we want to continue to fill it at all costs.
So, I would like to tell you that taking 15 to 30 minutes in your evening to practice yoga is not going to delay you in your program. On the contrary, it's a time to take care of yourself, to put everything that needs to be forgotten on your mat and to leave with a new momentum.
Taking a moment to practice evening yoga is a great way to forget everything that happened during the day. You will be able to take a step back from the events, freeing yourself from your worries, simply by coming back to you for a few moments.
Evening Yoga: the opportunity to move after a long day
No matter how hard you work, it is common for you to develop tension in your body at the end of the day. If you're standing, you may have heavy legs from trampling. If you work in a seated position, you may have pain in your upper back and neck. So, practicing yoga in the evening will allow you to gently mobilize your body to release all these tensions.
Indeed, by adopting the same position for long hours, we go against the nature of our body. It is rather made to move and make ample movements... Thus, putting movement back into the body allows us to avoid that knots of tension develop in the long term, creating back pain, migraines or stiffness. You will surely feel a deep sense of well-being at the end of your evening yoga session.
Mobilizing your body also has tremendous benefits on your energy level. Indeed, if your body stagnates in one position, energy is blocked. The result? You probably feel less vital after a while. On the contrary, yoga postures mobilize the whole body and organs, allowing your energy (Prana) to circulate and nourish your chakras. In fact, if you feel extremely well after a yoga class, it is probably for this reason.
In addition, you will certainly come out of your evening yoga session with a soothed mind and a better mood. In the end, practicing yoga in the evening helps us remember what matters most: love. It's so simple. And yet we so often miss out on our thousand things to do every day.
Evening Yoga: a routine to help you relax!
Decrease your stress level... This is undoubtedly the reason that motivates most people to practice yoga in our modern society. Indeed, each yoga session helps you to relax deeply. Whether it is through movement, immobility or relaxation, you will quickly find that evening yoga helps you feel better. This has an impact on your health. Indeed, the practice of yoga in the evening allows you to lower your blood pressure but also to facilitate your sleep.
Practicing yoga in the evening can also be a good way to take stock of your day. Not to dwell on your worries, but to get rid of them. A moment of silence at the beginning of the session will allow you to ask yourself "How do I feel today? ». Do you often ask yourself this question when you are not practicing yoga? I never do...
Moreover, you may find in this moment of calm, the solution you have been looking for for days. And this yoga practice in your evening will undoubtedly allow you to unburden yourself of what is weighing you down. Often, it will be a time to let your tears flow, to observe your anger in order to let go of it or simply to feel alive.
This may also allow you to focus on the positive for a few moments. What gives you gratitude? What made you happy today? How can you be proud of yourself? This time to take stock of your day is especially important for your well-being and self-esteem.
Finally, evening yoga will naturally bring you back to the present moment. Where you no longer have anyone to please. Where everything goes effortlessly. It's a great way to get back to what's essential, which makes you profoundly happy. Kiss your children or the person who shares your life. Spending time with the people you love. Having a good laugh. Without worrying about what is not tidy, ready or treated yet. Because all this is not what you remember at the end of your life. And yet, what does it take up space in everyday life?
Evening yoga: which exercises to practice?
Are you now motivated to practice evening yoga? But how do you do it? Which exercises is it best to focus on?
There is no miracle answer here. Personally, for evening practices, I love yoga exercises that are gentle enough to mobilize the whole body. Nevertheless, what speaks to me may be quite different from what you will like. So, don't hesitate to take inspiration from these few exercises that correspond to my usual routine and invent your own!
Sitting in a suit on your carpet, start by taking a moment for yourself by closing your eyes. Take a moment to observe how you feel at the end of your day. Let your thoughts go like clouds flying above you, knowing that they don't belong to you completely. Pay attention to your breathing, to the space between each breath in and out. And when you feel ready, take several cleansing breaths. Breathe in through your nose and blow out through your mouth, making the "Ah" sound.
Then start with small movements of the neck, from front to back, from right to left, while breathing deeply. Continue with small or large circles, half circles forward and backward. During these movements, close your eyes and listen to your sensations.
And then, as you breathe in, raise both of your outstretched arms up to the sky. The hands meet above the head, fingers intertwined. And when exhaling, turn the bust to the right. Stay here for a few moments and then release your arms on the floor on either side of your buttocks. Do the same thing on the left.
Evening Yoga Exercises
To continue, place your left hand on the floor next to your left buttock. As you breathe in, raise your right arm up to the sky so that it comes close to your right ear. On an exhalation, bring the right arm to the left and up. The bust follows this movement. You feel the whole right side of the bust stretching. It is possible to bend the left arm a little or even put the elbow on the floor to amplify the stretch. However, the goal is not only to go to the left but also upwards. Do the same with the left arm.
Then place your hands on either side of your hips on your waist. As you breathe in, arch your torso, turn your shoulders back, and pull your chest out. And on exhaling, push your upper back backwards, turn your shoulders forward, tuck your belly button backwards. Repeat several times this sequence which is a kind of "cat/cow posture" in a sitting position. You can also do it in the table position if you are more comfortable.
Then move to the standing position at the front of your mat. To keep the spine moving, I love doing the half-salutations in the sun.
In a standing posture, at the front of the mat, with your back straight, raise both arms towards the sky in inspiration. The hands meet above the head, the gaze is towards the hands. The back stretches gently backwards (be careful not to arch the lower back too much). On exhalation, dive forward, hands on the ground or toward the ground, head relaxed.
On inhalation, look forward, back straight. The shoulder blades meet at the back of the back. Hands are on your knees or fingertips on the floor. When exhaling, look forward again. The head is completely relaxed, hands are on or towards the ground in front of the feet. On inhalation, move up to the sky, both arms open on each side of the ears and meet above the head. Finally, on exhalation, the hands come in prayer in front of the heart. Repeat this sequence two or more times according to your desires.
Other Evening Yoga Exercises
Then you can follow up with the full sun salutations I presented here. Alternatively, you can also lie on your back and do some hip and leg stretches like in this video or this one. Finally, don't forget to take a few moments for Shavasana relaxation at the end of your evening yoga practice. This is probably the most important part.
Of course, these exercises are not intended to replace the sessions and advice of your yoga teacher. So, if you really want to reap all the benefits of the Evening Yoga practice, the best thing to do would be to sign up for a weekly yoga class near you. This will allow you to never forget to practice but also to be more available during those moments.
In India, Evening Yoga is not really traditional. And yet, it is a yoga practice that brings thousands of benefits to the body and mind, especially with our current lifestyle. So, I hope this article has made you want to practice a yoga routine or class in the evenings.