Everyone everywhere talks about doing yoga early in the morning. “Get up earlier and start with the sunrise.” “Boost your productivity!” “Set the tone for your day!” How many times have we all heard this?
And while it IS true that a morning practice can be an invigorating and inspiring way to start the day, what about the benefits of practicing after work or before bed? Are there any?? Well, …there’s a lot, actually!
When you practice in the morning, you usually end up using all the benefits of your practice on someone else (work, family, friends, neighbors, general interactions around town), whereas at night you get to savor all the wonderful benefits of your practice and use them while you replenish your own body and mind in the most important part of your restoration—during sleep!
Here are a few more reasons why nighttime yoga is a good idea.
1. You’ll Get Deeper, More Replenishing Sleep.
The relaxation effects of any yoga practice are wonderful for soothing you into sleep mode at the end of your day. Yoga engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for “rest and digest” functions (it is opposite to the infamous “fight or flight” response).
This means that it begins the relaxation process required for adequate sleep a little bit earlier, and thus lessens the chances of lying awake thinking, waking up frequently, and having restless sleep.
2. Undress The Stress.
Literally take the stress off. Practicing yoga before bed is a really lovely way to metaphorically, but also physically, remove the stress from your body. It is a version of something called “energetic hygiene,” which most body workers will be familiar with.
Energetic hygiene basically means finding a routine or ritual that sheds unwanted or unpleasant parts of your day, or an interaction, off of you—like showering when you get home from work, or shaking your hands out dramatically after a stressful encounter. Yoga before bed is a peaceful and serene way to shed the layers of the day off of you and begin focusing on yourself only.
3. Soothe Tension, Aches, and Pains.
Stretching out before bed lessens any uncomfortable crunchiness you may experience from joint pain or injuries at the end of the day. These injuries can pollute your sleep and make you groggy the next day. Getting all oxygenated and releasing muscle tension before bed is the best way to ensure that those aches and pains do not interfere with your sleep.
4. Prevent Mind Chatter.
That tendency to think about one thing over and over again before bed is familiar to all of us. Softening and smoothing your breath, and opening your body physically will spread into your mindset and calm that chattering mind more quickly.
5. Enjoy Smaller, More Intimate Yoga Classes.
Another big benefit of practicing yoga at night is that if you are at a studio, the class size will very likely be smaller than the early morning groups—making it easier to focus and (more likely) get more one-on-one care and attention from your instructor.
If you are an introvert, having fewer people around will likely sound like heaven! And if you are an extrovert, having more one-on-one time with your instructor will make your day. Win-win!
The best part about improving the quality of your down time is that great sleep will inevitably decrease the effects stress has on your body, boost your immune system, and improve the way all of your organs function individually and as a team.
Yoga is not just a morning activity, in fact a nighttime practice is a delicious way to end your day, achieve deeper sleep, and ultimately, improve your whole life!