So why oh why do lots of us get up in the early hours of the morning, maybe only a few hours after some people have even gone to bed, to practice yoga? It takes commitment, and when the mornings are dark you’ll need a dose of willpower too – but it’s all worth it….
Start your day right
Doing something so beneficial for you means you’re more likely to make healthier decisions for yourself throughout the day. The more you practice, the more you’re likely to naturally want to take care of your body. Goodbye bad habits!
After resting over night, our bodies are generally stronger in the morning (most people are strongest between 6 and 10 am) A great time to test those handstands and arm balances…. For those who are more flexible, we’re also less likely to over-stretch and cause injury at this time of the day, so the practice becomes safer and we get to know how flexible we really are that day….
Feel calmer all day
Carry that peacefulness you feel after Savasana with you all day and you’re guaranteed to feel good for longer. Your day will feel amazing!
We don’t always get time to do something just for us throughout the day, so getting up a little earlier (maybe even before everyone else wakes up) is a sure fire way to dedicate some time completely to yourself.
It might not be so easy in the Winter months, but being able to move through sun salutations as the sun is actually rising is really worth getting up for.
Go with the flow
Our natural bodily rhythms indicate that we should get up when the sun rises and go to bed when it sets, so by doing your morning practice you’re living in alignment with nature. Plus, we have a natural bust of cortisol in the mornings, which makes us more alert and energetic! (just don’t hit the snooze button….)
Breathe better all day
Yoga encourages proper, deep breathing, and by starting the day this way, we’ll really feel the benefits of actually being able to breathe fully, giving our body the nutrients it needs for the rest of the day.
The morning is a good time to set an intention for the day, think of something positive you’d like to create throughout the day, whether that’s something physical or a feeling; it all matters. The energy you create in your yoga practice can help to see that you live that intention throughout the day.
Especially if you do a similar practice each morning such as the Ashtanga Sequence or something of your own (although make sure it’s well rounded), you’ll get to know which bits of your body ache today, which parts feel tight, and where you feel super strong and stretchy! You’ll also be able to see yourself progress over time as you continue practicing, noticing how each day is different from the last.
The practice of yoga encourages mindfulness, and by getting in to this state of mind early in the day, we can carry it with us right through to the evening. Mindfulness is a very popular topic of discussion at the moment, and the brilliant simplicity of practicing it can be life changing.
Something To Rely On
Even when everything else in your life may seem crazy, stressful, or out of control; you always have your yoga practice to come back to. Come back to the breath, come back to the present moment….
Ditch the coffee
An energetic morning yoga practice can really wake us up by opening up the lungs, getting the heart pumping, boosting circulation, and generally making us feel fully alive! – a natural energy boost, much healthier than an instant coffee….
No more back pain
Most back injuries happen in the earlier part of the day when our body is less warmed up, so by moving the spine in all directions in the morning, we’re preparing it for what lies ahead and preventing unnecessary pain.
Create your positive practice place
The texts in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika say that:
‘The Yogi should practice Hatha Yoga in a small room, situated in a solitary place, being 4 cubits square, and free from stones, fire, water, disturbances of all kinds, and in a country where justice is properly administered, where good people live, and food can be obtained easily and plentifully….
The room should have a small door, be free from holes, hollows, neither too high nor too low, well plastered with cow-dung and free from dirt, filth and insects. On its outside there should be bowers, raised platform (chabootra), a well, and a compound. These characteristics of a room for Hatha Yogis have been described by adepts in the practice of Hatha.’
….While that might not be so easy for a lot of people, just make sure you’ve got enough room for you and your yoga mat, in a space which is relatively clean and feels safe and comfortable to be in. Somewhere you can be alone and know that no one is going to walk in on you while you practice your handstands against the door is also handy….
Make the effort to get up just a little earlier each day for 21 days (since we think it takes around 21 days to form a habit) and practice whatever yoga postures feel right to you. You’ll notice the benefits, you’ll become noticeably stronger and more flexible throughout this time, and your body will thank you! As a bonus, you’ll get to say ‘yeah I practiced yoga today’ for 21 days….
“Practice, and all is coming”
– Ashtanga Yoga founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915—2009)