We have all had those mornings. The ones where you hit the snooze on your alarm as long as you can, where the offer of a warm bed is more inviting than the cold floor your feet are about to meet, or where the idea of moving around makes your body ache. It are these mornings where the pesky thought rolls into our heads, do I really want to get up and roll around on my mat for an hour before I have to be awake? The answer should always be yes.
Over the many years I have been practicing yoga, I have never had a better time, or a more rewarding practice than my morning. It sets the mood and tone for my day, keeps me focused on the grater picture of life, and allows my grumps to be solved on the mat instead of being taken out on my coworkers. Not to mention the increasing amount of research supporting mornings as the best time for physical activity.
Now there are plenty of perks for practicing later in the day, yet there is nothing more inviting than practicing in the morning to set the mood and tone of your day. There was a commercial campaign a few years ago that always sticks in my head when I make this argument, the motto being that ‘one healthy choice always leads to another’, and there could not be a more true statement. When you make the conscience choice to make your practice the first part of your day, you start your day with making a healthy, mindful choice that sets off a chain reaction throughout the rest of your day.
In setting an intention for yourself on your mat, you are setting an intention for the rest of the day. For example, if you have decided that you needed to be more compassionate in your speech, you might decide to have a morning practice centered around the throat chakra, and set an intention of sending more compassion there. This intention is where you center your focus while holding poses. This practice seeps into your day and when faced with speaking you will find yourself stopping before and asking yourself if compassion is in the words you wish to say; leading you to become a more compassionate speaker.
Compassion is at the root of yoga. Learning to live an unattached life from the things around you in order to enjoy them for what they are, not what you want them to be. It is an important part of being human and when starting your day with practice, it brings you back to this mindfulness. You can let go of that irritated feeling of having to get out of bed and let go of that frustration on the mat, lending you to be a more positive and up beat person when you go to work, instead of when you are leaving work.
More and more studies and testimonials have been coming out about the benefits around practicing yoga early in the morning. Reasons range from setting the tone of the day, to getting better sleep, to regulating hormones. Even Shri K. Pattabhi Jois recommends that students practice in the morning. You and your body are more receptive early in the morning, thus it is the best time to in act changes. Before the busy jostling of our day starts to take over, having a moment in the morning to get yourself awake and aware while setting a tone and pace for the rest of the day.
Still all the studies and knowledge in the world never overrides that exhausted feeling when the first alarm goes off. So then here is the question, what do you need to get yourself out of bed with enough time to practice in the morning?