I haven’t always been a morning person. It all started when my kids were babies, I would get up early, just to enjoy the peace and calm of the house. There is something so comforting about knowing all of your loved ones are safe, secure, and snuggled in their beds. The added bonus was the quiet of the house. Sometimes I would get 5 minutes before someone stirred and needed me and sometimes I would get a luxurious 30 minutes or more. Depending on the time I was gifted I would read, pray, exercise, or just sit in the quiet.
When the kids got older I made it a point to go workout and eventually started practicing yoga in the wee hours of the morning. There was so much I loved about it. It’s still my favorite time to practice.
This list could be endless, so here are just a few of my favorite reasons to practice yoga first thing in the morning:
1. Yoga wakes up your brain. Research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign showed that just 20 minutes of yoga increased cognitive performance. Other research shows that yoga can increase your mental focus and clarity for up to 10 hours. Just think of what an impact you can make in your workday with your brain all warmed up and ready to go!
2. Yoga puts you in a good mood. Boston University research showed that yoga increased increased GABA levels (feel good hormones) and decreased anxiety. An early morning practice can set a positive and affirming tone for your entire day.
3. Easier to make your practice a priority. How many other conflicts are you going to have at 5:30 in the morning? You’ve got to put the time in to get the benefits, so why not pick a time when you know you can be completely available on a regular basis?
4. Logistics. This may sound silly, but the logistics of an early morning practice can’t be beat. There’s little to no traffic, parking is easy, you can quickly return home for a quick shower, and get on with your day. You don’t have to worry about packing a change of clothes or getting out of work on time, making an early morning practice can be easier than you think.
If you’re interested in giving an early morning class a try, here are a few things that I do to make sure it’s easy to get up and go.
1. Put your clothes out the night before. When you get up all you have to do is slip on what you plan to wear. There is no need to dig through your drawers or closet and no excuse to stay in bed.
2. Stock light, energizing snacks. I rarely eat before an early morning practice, but sometimes I wake up famished. A small apple or orange is enough to satisfy my hunger, but not fill me up so much that it’s difficult to practice.
3. Pick a morning mantra. This heading could also read, be your own cheerleader. Instead of waking up with thoughts of dread and “what was I thinking?!?”, pick an affirming mantra. “Time to start the day.” “It’s a new day.” “I get to experience this day.” Whatever you choose, pick a mantra, slogan, or affirmation that will get you moving and maybe put a smile on your face.
4. Set the tone of the day with your alarm. Pick a song that you won’t want to snooze. Maybe it’s something really upbeat and motivating or maybe it’s something a little gentle that builds, coaxing you out of bed. Try not to hit the snooze, instead, start invoking that mantra.
5. Come as you are. Early morning yogis are some of the best people you’ll ever meet. They’ve also got some of the best bed head I’ve ever seen. Don’t worry about your appearance, it’s your energy that’s appealing.
6. Just get yourself there. It can be easy to let negative self-talk sideline your plans. No matter what reel is playing in your head, “it’s too cold, I’m too tired, my day is too busy”, just get yourself to class. If you can just get to yoga, the practice will unfold with what it is you need to tackle your day.
If it seems impossible, all I can say is give it a try for a week or two. Once you get into the rhythm of an early morning routine, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start it sooner.
Photo credit: Shao-Chun Wang via 123RF