10 Benefits of an Afternoon Yoga Practice
As a yoga beginner, it is often hard to know when is the best time to practice yoga. Should I practice in the early morning, mid-afternoon, or at the end of the day? Which one will give me the best benefits of yoga? Perhaps you’re aware of the plethora of good things that a morning yoga practice can provide, and even those associated with evening practices too. but, now you’re wondering if there are any afternoon yoga benefits?
The short answer is a resounding YES! Large corporations have been taking advantage of them for years, offering lunchtime yoga services to their employees to break up the monotony of a long day.
The traditional view is that morning practice is the perfect time, as this is when the world around you is at its quietest. As a result, you will be able to meditate more easily.
Indeed, many people advocate for a yoga practice first thing. It can help with solidifying a healthy morning routine. Your local yoga studio may offer some early bird classes, too. However, for many of us, it’s just not feasible to include regular practice in our morning routines. So, let’s explore some of these afternoon yoga benefits so you can make the right choice for yourself.
Combat the afternoon slump with yoga: 10 benefits
The best approach to deciding on the right time of day for you to practice yoga requires taking a look at both the benefits and contraindications of yoga. Different types of yoga asanas are better suited to different times of the day. Therefore, it is important to choose the right practice so you can optimize all these afternoon yoga benefits. This post goes into a little more detail about that.
For now, let’s focus on the health benefits of afternoon practice time, as it comes with its own advantages and can actually be a good time for many to include a short yoga practice
1. Increased energy
Practicing yoga midday can help boost energy levels and combat fatigue during the day. There is a high chance we spend a fair few hours sitting by midday. Sitting on the train or bus to work, followed by more sitting at a desk either hunched over a computer or stuck in long meetings that we all agree could have been an email, for example.
If you’re one of the lucky ones with an outdoor job, then chances are you’re at the other end of the spectrum Construction workers and landscapers, for example, or real estate agents, can endure work that can be quite taxing on the body. For these people, a short yoga practice may seem counterintuitive, until we understand that these jobs also require us to keep the body repeatedly performing the same actions.
For both groups, a short asana practice (the physical movement of yoga) is a wonderful way to release tight shoulders or stiff backs. something that includes stretching the torso, some spinal twists, some side-bends, and some forward folds would be a great way to release tired muscles. and yes, muscles get tired just by sitting, too.
2. Improved focus
Yoga can help improve focus and concentration, making it beneficial for those who need to be alert and productive during the workday. If you’re finding yourself getting easily distracted or stuck in a feeling of brain fog, then a well-rounded short class can help with that.
Personally, I have found that a ten-minute practice that focuses on slow movement and deep breaths works well to improve my mental clarity. This doesn’t have to be all that active. A couple of overhead stretches, twists, and forward folds sometimes feel like enough to get the juices flowing.
3. Reduced stress
Yoga can help reduce the stress and tension that a busy day promises, making it a great way to take a break from work and relax during lunch, setting you up for a more peaceful, focused rest of your day.
Your lunchtime yoga doesn’t have to be all that active. In fact, if you share an office space that doesn’t provide much privacy, an active practice may feel a little awkward for all involved. Stick with a few stretches you can do at your desk to open up the body, then focus on a few minutes of deep breathing. I recommend three-part breath or Belly breath as these are both perfectly suitable for beginners and will positively reduce the stress of the day.
4. Improved posture
Yoga can help improve posture and alignment, reducing the risk of pain and discomfort. Some common afflictions of the desk worker include stiff shoulders, stiff neck, and lower back pain. These are all either instigated or exacerbated by sitting for long periods of time.
The muscles that connect the pelvis to the upper thigh (along the front leg), a compound muscle called the Psoas, shorten over time with a lack of use. This creates the sensation of tight hip flexors as we stand, and puts pressure on our lower back, pulling it out of alignment and leading to lower back pain.
Performing a few asanas such as Anjaneyasana or Virabhadrasana II is fantastic for stretching out the Psoas and releasing lower back pain. Accompanied by other asanas such as Utthitha Tadasana and you may notice significant improvements over time with both pain and posture.
5. Warmed-up muscles
In the early hours of the day, our muscles are still cold. Jumping into a morning yoga session may feel a little too much, especially at the beginning of your yoga journey. A yin yoga practice, that works best on cold muscles, may be appropriate in that instance. By midday, however, our muscles have had a chance to limber up through the regular activities of our day.
The physical activity that an asana practice provides may feel a little more comfortable on the body with slightly warmer muscles. In my experience, a midday forward fold feels a lot more comfortable than an early morning forward fold, though both will be beneficial if practiced safely.