I thought the purpose of doing yoga in the evening was to relax my mind and body and prepare for sleep. Winding down in this way may help me rest better and feel fresher the next morning. I was correct, but I also underestimated how much more broadly I’d be affected by an evening practice.

I prefer to exercise and practice yoga in the morning. Training in the evening tends to leave me fatigued and I have to fight the desire to stay seated on the couch. My discipline is what gets me to the gym and onto the yoga mat for those evening sessions. When I do this for too many consecutive days, I begin to break down and lose the capability to maintain my focus. Sometimes during one of these yoga practices, my muscles are tired and it’s more difficult to hold a pose. My patience wanes very quickly and I become frustrated which leads to trying to force poses rather than allow them to develop. I also notice that I engage in negative self-talk and begin to feel anxious because I’m straining to get into the poses. Sometimes I’ll catch myself while I focus on my breath and notice the excess tension in my body. The practice becomes a competition rather than a session of connection with myself. Constant tension, anxiousness, and a chaotic mind lead to fatigue much more rapidly than a calm mind and body.

After doing an evening session feeling exhausted, I discovered that I was practicing for the stresses of race day. Specifically, when I reach the point in a race of exhaustion and my mind begins to wander. The accumulated fatigue decreases my ability to constrain my mind and permits focus to wane. As the mental chaos seeps in, self-doubt emerges. The negative self-talk that commences can lead to an unbridled negative spiral and potential self-sabotage of what could be a great race. I think all athletes deal with this negative cycle, but those with experience develop an awareness and have habits to short-circuit it rapidly.


After discussing these experiences with my yoga instructor, I recognized the gift of this particular struggle.

Practicing yoga when fatigued is beneficial for race preparation.

In every race that I’ve pushed myself hard, I have moments of both mental and physical fatigue. It is during those moments that I become the most susceptible to quitting or letting go of my goals. Or worse, believing that I am not capable of achieving my goals. Learning to practice and remain connected while fatigued is one way I am developing skills to remain calm and connected to a focused mind.