Many yoga traditions, like Myore-style Ashtanga practices, advocate for early-morning practice. That’s when you’ll find the most Ashtanga classes offered, as well. B.K.S. Iyengar has been known to advocate for early morning practice, which makes you better at the things you do later in the day.
Morning practice is often done on an empty stomach, and has the benefit of getting your day off to a good start. If nothing else goes well in your day, at least you got to the mat. It also helps increase your mobility for the day--opening your hips, straightening your spine and stretching your shoulders so you feel less pain throughout the day.
However, there are cons to doing yoga in the morning. You’ll probably have limited flexibility because your muscles aren’t warmed up. It’s also very hard for a night owl to wake up early--and you might not get the benefits of increased energy if you’re yawning the entire time.
Yoga practice later in the day can offer many benefits. To begin, you’ve been moving your body the whole day, warming your muscles and helping you avoid injury during your practice. You’ll probably have increased energy, because you’ve been awake the whole day. With more energy, you’ll be better able to push yourself in your practice.
It’s also helpful for helping you digest your food for the day. Practices like yin yoga and restorative yoga help assimilate the food you’ve eaten. Remember--you’ll want to hold off on eating 2 to 3 hours before your practice.
Finally, yoga can help improve relaxation and sleep. You’ll be able to relax your mind and let go of the stress of the day. Studies have shown that it’s a natural cure for insomnia and other sleep disorders. You’ll want to make sure you’re not doing vigerous yoga right before bed--that can have the opposite effect.
Which brings us to the cons of evening practice. The first is that it limits the poses you can do. You won’t want to do high-velocity, vigorous flows in the evening, as they have the ability to wake you up instead of getting you ready for bed. Lastly, after a whole day of thinking, it can be even harder to wind down. You’ll likely be distracted by your to-do list or stressors from earlier in the day, making it hard to practice the meditative part of yoga.