Practicing Yoga in the Morning versus the Evening: What’s the Difference? ~ Rose Tantraphol

I’ve always sworn that I could never—ever, ever—be turned into a morning person.

But a strange thing has been happening over the past year, as I’ve started practicing Ashtanga yoga six days a week. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I’ve started to really enjoy practicing in the morning.

I had this realization this week when, despite my best intentions, I didn’t wake up when the alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. for my Ashtanga practice. I never hit the snooze button that day, but for whatever reason, I didn’t wake up either. Oops. I ended up getting out of bed with only enough time to get ready for work.

It’s been months since I’ve done my home practice in the evening and I had two main observations about my practice at dusk:

I had forgotten how delicious it feels to practice later in the day, when your body isn’t as cold and stiff.

On the mental front, I was using my practice reactively rather than proactively.

The first one is pretty straightforward. As for the second, work was draining today and I realized I was using the practice to try to erase all the little irritants that had accumulated in my body—drip, drip, drip straight into my upper back—and in my mind. This is how I practiced for years—shedding my day on the mat.

It’s a beautiful use of an asana practice—how wonderful that we have that option. Yet there’s something about the proactive versus the reactive that’s been interesting for me to reflect on. If my koshas were like hardwood floors, practicing in the morning feels like adding a nice, smooth protective coat. I’m standing at our kitchen island while I type this, noticing how beautiful the shiny hardwood floors look. In the evening, it would be more akin to scrubbing away that day’s dirt and grime on a surface that’s only lightly treated.

Now, can I become a cheery morning person? We’ll see what another year of morning practice six days week can do for me.

When do you prefer to practice, and why?


Rose Tantraphol is a journalist-turned-social-media-junkie now based in Michigan and working in the communications field. She practices Ashtanga yoga, teaches yoga and writes the YogaRose.net blog, which is ultimately about passion and the search for balance and inspiration—whether it’s found in a yoga studio, a Detroit Tigers game or a Radiohead song.


Editor: Malin Bergman

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sitarabird Nov 7, 2012 1:44pm

I had never thought about my practice as being proactive or reactive. What an interesting light to shed because I have always thought "well, yoga will make me feel better." I just finished reading your other article with tips on waking up in the early morning. I'm trying to transition into a morning mysore yogi. Thank you for the inspiration!

Nadia Nov 2, 2012 1:52am

I used to practice in the evening after work but as much as I loved it, found the process to be draining instead of the other way around. I have a long commuting period between work and home, and usually by the time I would start my practice it was more of a dreadful feeling, a chore really, instead of something I am looking forward to. Sometimes I lacked energy and focus.

Recently I changed to a morning practice (not too early, at 7 am) and I am loving it. It's exactly like what you said – it sets the tone for the rest of the day. I don't think I'll revert back to an evening practice until I absolutely have to. I am trying to maybe do it earlier, which wasn't hard because I am a Muslim and we have a dawn prayer to commit to, it just requires a bit of effort on my part.

enjoyed this article, thanks.

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