Yoga studios everywhere offer early morning classes—at 3Tree Yoga, they are at 6:00am. The motivations to practice early vary by person, but sometimes we need to hear why it’s a good idea to drag ourselves out of bed before the sun comes up, rather than hitting the snooze button.
1. Morning magic.
There is something magical about the early morning before the sun rises. There is a peaceful stillness in the air, but there is also the wonderful promise of the sunrise. In Ayurvedic philosophy, it is said there is Vata energy surrounding us before the sun rises, which is a moving energy that makes it great time to get up and smooth the transition to a more energized morning. Plus, in every early class I’ve ever taken, the teacher does an amazing job of gently waking up our minds, bodies, and breath before bringing on more challenging tasks, so there is a really smooth and meditative feel to the yoga practice.
2. Start your day feeling like a badass.
Getting out of bed early can be really difficult at first, but generally we feel pretty good about ourselves when we finish a yoga practice, and this is doubly true if we had to exhibit the discipline of an early riser in order to do it. There is also a sense of being grounded and starting our day with a positive attitude when we develop a healthy morning routine. In yoga, we can not only start our day cultivating breath awareness and ramping up our metabolism, but we can give ourselves a morning self-esteem boost to make us feel like we are capable of great things all day (which we are!).
3. Get rid of the cobwebs.
When we sleep, our fascia, or sheets of connective tissue in our bodies, starts to stick together, like building up cobwebs between our muscles and joints. If we get up and head right to work or school, we don’t work these cobwebs out, and they get thicker, causing an increase in that sensation of having tight, inflexible bodies, and decreasing our overall mobility and energy levels.
4. Make Good Choices.
When we make the effort to get out of bed early and practice yoga, we start our day feeling good, and happy with the choice to do something healthy for ourselves first thing. This tends to lead us toward healthier choices for the rest of the day as well, because we have we started our day making the connection that our thoughts affect our actions, and our actions affect our bodies in very tangible ways. Taking early morning classes also forces us to do a better job regulating sleep, so we learn to go to bed earlier and at a consistent time, which actually leads to better sleep overall.
5. Sticking With It.
Sometimes we have every intention of starting our yoga practice and doing it every day, every other day, 3 times a week, or whatever combination of days we come up with. Then we go to work or school, spend a day taking care of homes and kids, or navigating the stuff that comes up, unplanned, into our day. It can get easy to feel “too busy” or “too tired” to go to that yoga class in the afternoon or evening, and we start talking ourselves out of it. If we get up and practice first thing in the morning, then we reap the benefits of a practice before the “stuff” causes us to become unmotivated.
Hopefully we are all now psyched to get up really early and practice yoga. How do we do it and stick with it?
6. Yoga in Packs.
Find a friend or five all wanting to try and stick with an early morning routine, and then hold each other accountable. Call it peer pressure, the buddy system, the yoga badass club—whatever works—keep each other going to bed and getting up on time! You can also sign up for your class online so that you feel more obligated to go since the teacher will be expecting you.
7. Alarm Tricks.
It is hard to get up before the sun, especially when we aren’t used to it. Finding an alarm trick that makes us less likely to talk ourselves into sleeping an extra hour or two is important. For instance, try setting the alarm 15-30 minutes earlier than you need so you can snooze one or more times. Or place one or more alarms out of arm’s reach so that you have to get up to silence them. You can also try a sleep app that has an alarm that will slowly coax you awake if that is more to your liking.
8. Prepare for Zombie Mode.
Get clothes ready the night before, and set your mat, keys, purse or wallet, water bottle, and whatever else you need in the same location on the way out the door. That way, you have a streamlined process to get you out the door and make getting ready less daunting when you are dragging around in zombie mode in the morning.
9. Gold Stars.
Set a goal—maybe it will be to go to 6am yoga three times a week for 30, 40, or 60 days, and actually keep track! You can write it in your calendar, give yourself gold stars on a chart when you go, and have a reward like a massage, that new pair of shoes, the really awesome yoga mat you want, or a trip somewhere sunny and warm, waiting for you when you succeed.
There are many tricks and tips to help us stick with a morning yoga routine (post some that work for you in the comments if you’ve got them!), but one of the best rewards comes when we make the effort to notice and reflect on how we feel, behave, and perform during our day when we stick with a solid morning yoga routine over time. The struggle is temporary, but the benefits are real and lasting.