Practicing yoga offers many benefits like improving strength, managing stress, and feeling more balanced. For some, another benefit of a consistent yoga practice is weight loss. If you want to practice yoga to help you reach a weight loss goal, it is important to be intentional about the time of day you are practicing.
The best time to do yoga for weight loss is in the morning. Practicing right after waking up will jumpstart metabolism, burning calories at a higher rate. Also, practicing early in the morning will control your appetite and boost productivity for the rest of your day.
This article will discuss more of the benefits of an early morning practice that will lend themselves to weight loss. We will also discuss other times of the day to do yoga for weight loss if a morning practice is not practical for your schedule.
Morning Yoga for Weight Loss
There are endless benefits to committing to a morning yoga practice. Perhaps the most significant benefit is that as you wake up, your mind ideally will be most clear and open. Having an open mind will enhance your yoga practice not only mentally, spiritually, and physically. You will also be able to experience and achieve different poses more fully.
As you can better engage in your yoga poses, this will help facilitate weight loss. Let’s take a closer look at some of the specifics that happen when doing early morning yoga:
Boosts Metabolism and Calorie Burn Rate
Metabolism is the process our body uses to convert the calories of the food we consume into energy. This process is what many people are referring to when they talk about burning calories. So simply put, the higher your metabolism is, the more calories you will burn.
So, why does this process happen more efficiently when working out in the morning? This has to do with the composition of hormones after we wake up. The human body naturally has elevated cortisol and testosterone in the morning.
Both of these hormones are associated with metabolism. These elevated hormones’ physiological effects lead to better fat metabolism, meaning you will be drawing more energy or “burning” from your fat stores.
Also, in the early morning hours, you metabolize your fat stores since exercising on an empty stomach. If you were to exercise after eating a meal, instead of fat stores, you would be metabolizing the calories from the food and drinks you had just consumed.
Another important note with the boost in metabolism: metabolism is then ignited and working through the day. Of course, the metabolism rate will slow down, but if you get it started in the morning and stay somewhat active throughout the day, you will be metabolizing at a higher rate than your baseline.
Another benefit of doing yoga in the morning for weight loss is that a morning practice will help you better control your appetite throughout the day. Exercise reduces the body’s amount of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Also, exercise increases satiety or fullness hormones like glucagon and other peptide hormones.
Also, there are some psychological explanations of the ways exercise affects appetite. In a 2012 study, 35 women exercised for 45 minutes in the morning, and then their brain waves were measured as they looked at photos of flowers (control) and food.
The process was then repeated days later without the women doing any exercise. The researchers discovered that the women’s brain waves responded stronger to the food photos in the morning they did not exercise. This suggests that exercise affects and improves the way the brain responds to food cues.
Yoga in the morning will boost your productivity for the rest of the day. This natural, healthy way to awaken the body will give you sustainable energy as you go through the day. This energy will allow you to be more productive, move more, and be more mindful and intentional in your choices. All of these things, again, will help you achieve weight loss goals.
Not to mention, the benefit of a morning workout is that it will likely be easier to commit to it. Waiting to work out until evening often leads people to make excuses or feel too exhausted to commit to their workout. Or if they choose to work out during this time, there is a chance that since they have already used so much energy during the day, their workout will not be as intense as needed, leading to weight loss.
Afternoon & Evening Yoga for Weight Loss
Although morning has an edge in the best time to do yoga for weight loss, you can still reach your goals if you commit to an afternoon or evening practice. If you don’t have time to commit to a morning practice, read on to learn more about some of the benefits that will come along with committing to doing yoga in the afternoon or evening.
If you can’t work out in the morning, working around your lunchtime might be the best next option. As noted, morning workouts will be ideal for burning fat, but if you do a workout during the lunch hour, you will have calories and energy to boost your performance. This can lead to a higher intensity workout, also great for weight loss.
Also, working out in the afternoon will allow you to power through the end of the day. A 2019 study in the Journal of Physiology found that you will be more alert after exercising in the morning. This is explained as your body clock shifts earlier. Naturally, your body will start feeling alert in the morning and become tired in the early evening, resulting in a healthy amount of sleep.
The same study found that exercising between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. actually shifted the body clock in the same way. Remember, this boost in alertness and productivity will help you achieve your weight loss as a goal, as it will be important to be active outside of solely your yoga practice.
If you have a busy daytime schedule, maybe you have no option other than to workout at night. But don’t worry, because even a nighttime yoga practice can help you lose weight. You just might need to be more intentional about your yoga practice since you don’t have the same biological advantages that come with doing morning exercise.
The Journal of Physiology study found that nighttime exercise, between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., sets back the body’s natural clock, leading to later bedtimes and shorter amounts of rest. But the benefit is, if you use your yoga practice for weight loss but then intentionally add a longer savasana at the end, yoga will perhaps prepare you for better sleep in a way other forms of exercise would not.
There is not as much research supporting evening or nighttime workouts. However, a paper published in Experimental Physiology in 2019 found that working out at night also reduces the hunger hormone ghrelin. So there are some potential arguments that a nighttime workout would aid greatly in weight loss.
When it comes to finding the best time of day to do yoga for weight loss, research shows that a morning practice will likely give you the best success. However, afternoon and evening practices can also lead to weight loss. The most important thing is finding a time of day that works best for you physically and psychologically and being consistent with your practice.