Morning! One of the Best Times to Practice Yoga


Since you are still reading you must be interested in starting a morning practice, that's the first step - interest.   Now’s my chance to convince you to start and stick to a morning yoga practice. The morning has always been my preferred time of practice for many of years with the Ashtanga tradition and I love it. I find it to be the most peaceful time of day for my practice.

First, a little bit of history… according to early traditional texts of yoga practice (The Hatha Yoga Pradipika), the hours between 4:00 am and 6:00 am were said to be the optimal time for practicing yoga. This time of day contains the least number of distractions and tends to be the stillest. Take Sun Salutations, for example, these are named after the time of day that ancient yogis performed them. As the sun was rising to start the day, so did the early yogis with breath linked, meditative movements for a stronger body and clearer mind.

What is the first thing your body wants to do as you wake up? Stretch! Have you ever seen a cat wake up from a nap? Practicing in the morning makes perfect sense, biologically. Stretching is your body's natural way of helping you shake off the sleepiness from the night. You remove the stiffness in your body and start to lubricate your joints in order to prepare physically for the demands on your body in your day ahead. The digestive system also starts to come alive with a morning practice. As you begin to move, you will start to notice that you feel awake and full of energy. This is a good signal that the food you ate the day before is agreeing with you. If you notice that you feel sluggish or heavy, then the food you ate might not be agreeing with your body. For example, if you ate a big or heavy meal just before you went to sleep and then notice when you wake up in the morning that you still feel full and would rather lay in bed and digest than get up, you should try to eat something lighter or eat earlier in the evening. If you notice that when you wake up in the morning that you feel weak and just the thought of doing a yoga practice makes you tired, then you might want to eat more nutritious calories in your evening meal in order to give you the energy you need to make it to your mat. These reactions from your body in the morning are signals that it is time to rethink your evening eating habits so that your body is readily using the foods you eat to help you perform your best.  

Mental focus and clarity increase with a prolonged morning yoga practice. The idea that yoga is a practice and that we are working towards something greater transfers well once we step off our mats. Using a morning practice to help set an intention for your day allows for the mind to become more focused on what you want to achieve for that day. Just as your body starts to wake up and prepare for the day ahead, your brain can too. How often have you started your day fretting over what needs to get done in your day and then felt grumpy or rushed all day trying to figure out how to get it all done? This can leave you feeling mentally exhausted at the end of the day. A morning yoga practice can help you organize your thoughts and set better goals for your day. When I practice yoga in the morning, I love the time I have to focus on just my breath and body. It helps me get into a more positive frame of mind for the day. As I create this mind-body connection it allows for my "to-do list" to fade to the back of my mind letting me move from my mat to my life with more ease allowing for better attention to my “to-do list”.  

After your morning practice, you can feel confident that you did something great for yourself; physically and mentally. When your day goes a bit too long and you don't make it to your cardio or strength class, you can rest assured that you have already done your exercise for the day without beating yourself up about not having time for exercise. This is the part I like the best about a morning practice, freeing up the rest of my day to do more if I have time, or not worrying about it when I don't.

The first day, heck even the first month will be hard to resist the urge to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep, but the morning practice will help to start to regulate your sleep patterns making it easier for your to get up in the mornings. Allowing the body and mind to wake up with yoga helps you go through your day less rushed and with more purpose, feeling the benefits of your practice throughout your day ahead. Enjoy your morning journey with one of my videos specifically for the morning to get you started!