I recognize this look of ‘disbelief' from when I started my yoga practice nearly a decade ago and wondered why people would ‘do that to themselves’. Little did I know that waking up early was just one of the walls I was about to break down in my life, along with many others... but that’s a story for another day.
Waking up at 4:45am to practice yoga is hard; it requires dedication, devotion and perseverance. All of these traits don't come naturally to me and I am determined to practice these regularly. Committing to a regular practice can be the hardest thing, believe me, it’s my on-going battle despite nearly a decade of practice! But it is an extraordinary training ground to observe your life and actions ‘off the mat’ and then measure whether or not these actions are having a positive or negative impact on your physical, mental and emotional health.
For instance, feeling ‘heavy’ during practice can be due to an undigested dinner the previous night, perhaps having an earlier dinner may be better for your body; or being distracted by an overpowering thought or worry during meditation can be a sign to take action and listen to that voice within; or if the body is sore it may be time to rest and restore.
By practicing yoga postures daily, you’ll notice your changes in yourself as the strength and flexibility of both body and mind begins to improve.
But many students ask me why do I practice so early? Why not practice later at night? There are many reasons for this. Many traditional yogic texts state that the hours between 4am and 6am are the most conductive for meditation and yoga practice because the mind is at its stillest and the rest of the world hasn’t yet sprung into action, so there’s a sense of calmness in the air. If these hours are a little too early for you, then one of my teachers Guruji Iyengar states ‘practicing a bit later is also OK’.
Practicing first thing in the morning, before outside messages broadcast into our minds invites a level of focus and concentration that is hard to achieve later in the day creating a perfect training ground to harvest that state of awareness for the rest of the day. As a woman in society I have many roles. A wife, mother, business owner, teacher, daughter…. but at that time no one requires any thing from me, all that is required is for me to be present on my mat. Some days just being ‘on’ my mat can be the biggest sense of achievement.
There is a beautiful stillness about early morning practice. The quietness at that time, especially in the winter months when the moon is still out invites calmness into the mind.
Practicing ‘Sun Salutes’ can create a connection with the environment and the natural rhythms of the universe. It reminds me of the greatness and wonders of life as I welcome the sun each morning. The ‘awakening’ from a morning savasana practice, is a metaphor for welcoming a new day - a new life.
Over the years I have developed some tricks that help to get to practice yoga in the morning:
- Starting the night before: have a light dinner.
- Before going to bed lay out the clothes you will wear. This will be one less thing to think about first thing in the morning.
- Set up your Tea/Coffee/Cocoa ritual. (Again, one thing less to think about – but also a good way to make that commitment with yourself).
- Have a warm shower as soon as you get out of bed.
- Don't snooze your alarm.
- Tell family and friends about your practice. (My husband’s support is imperative to my morning practice as he looks after our baby son as he wakes up. Shout out to the best hubby!)
- If you practice at a studio, tell your teacher or a friend you will see them there.
If you would like to try a morning practice, at YogaLife Wellness we offer yoga classes 7 days per week. On Monday and Wednesday mornings we offer a 6am class (doors open at 5:45am), and also have yoga classes every day of the week at 9:30am.
See you on the mat.