Timing your yoga just right

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With Yoga becoming a popular go-to workout routine for many, classes are offered throughout the day. When I saw a notice up at the local gym offering a quick post-lunch yoga session, I did a double-take! Wait, wasn’t yoga strictly a morning/evening event? Was a lunch-time asana allowed? The question spun inside my brain on the way home, so I hit the books (and the internet, in part) to find what the experts say.

Before even getting into the specifics of timing, the respected teachers of Yoga, including B.K.S. Iyengar, say that two conditions are a must before you break into your first asana. First, your bowels must be empty. And second, your stomach must be clear as well. Then, and only then is Yoga to be done. Breaking this rule results in indigestion, nausea and irregular digestive habits at a surface level. On a deeper level, it breaks the stability that every asana brings to your energy body, hampering the spiritual benefits you can build up from a regular practice of Yoga.

The most natural time to ensure these two conditions, is, for all practical purposes, the morning. Furthermore, I read, as the sun rises and the earth shakes itself into a new day, the stirring of life all around you awakens your physical and energy bodies in a systematic, methodical and optimal way: this happy coincidence brings good news to your strength and endurance levels, which increase exponentially when you do yoga during sunrise.

However, rising at the crack of dawn to ensure your spinal twist is timed right isn’t possible for everyone. And so we come to the evening. If you miss the morning, an evening schedule is second-best. After all, the second twi-light of the day is one of the ‘Sandyakalas’ – the transitionary states of the sun as it moves over us, corresponding with an upsurge of flow through our Sushumna (the primary energy channel described in Yogic lore as roughly located along our spine). Timing our Yoga during the evening is accepted, as long as you ensure empty stomach and bowel conditions. It does have a slightly different effect though. So while a morning routine kickstarts your day and pushes up your verve, evening practices calm down your system and pulls you into deeper relaxation states.

Some sources also suggest fine-tuning your timing according to your body. For instance, I read about this aspiring yogi who complains to her master that no matter what she does, some asanas give her a splitting headache, so much so she cannot raise her eyes to look upon the sun. To which the guru replies, “Well, in that case, you have to do your asanas before the sun comes up, don’t you!” So she tries, and her pain doesn’t come back!

The take-away from this is that each of us has a time that works better than others for our unique constitution and energy levels. Experimenting and finding that sweet time, while ensuring that necessary conditions are met, will mean that the rewards we reap, and sustain through our days and lives, will be rich indeed!

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