With the days getting shorter and a chill in the air, it can be a bit of a challenge to motivate in the morning. I sometimes find myself wanting to stay cozy in my bed versus jumping up to throw on my wunder unders for class. However, every time that I practice yoga, I notice a profound difference in my day’s outcome and mood. If I don’t do yoga, or some form of exercise in the morning, I’m not as clear headed or vibrant… I lack that pep in my step.
My yoga contributor/teacher, Gina Marie Dunn, wrote a piece for us on the subject. Here are her reasons:
Get Your Asana Out of Bed and Go to Yoga!
The first precious moments of the morning can influence how we are going to think, act and respond for the rest of the day. It makes sense sense to fill them in a positive and inspiring way.
Traditional yogis believe you should practice very early in the day for a variety of energetic, physical and mental benefits. Yoga has benefits no matter what time of day we practice, but there’s something profoundly special about rolling out your mat to begin the day. Even a brief (10-20 minutes at home) practice can do wonders.
I know all too well the level of dedication it takes to wake up in time to make a 6 a.m. yoga class. That is when I began my yoga journey as a working mom of three toddlers, just trying to squeeze in a few moments of “me time” and return home before anyone knew I was gone. Now, when I see the sleepy-eyed yogis coming in for my morning class, it makes me feel like a proud parent. There are so many benefits and reasons to cultivate and sustain an early morning yoga practice- here are a few to get you inspired!
Naturally Ignite Metabolism
First thing in the morning, before we’ve eaten or added caffeine to our bodies, we get to fire ourselves up in a completely natural way using breath and conscious movement. Certain yoga poses stimulate the digestive system and metabolism naturally, particularly twisting postures, chest and throat opening poses, and dynamic flows. Sun salutations and backbends can be more effective than coffee!
Regulate Sleep and Balance Hormones
While practicing yoga, the attention to breathing, meditation and physical poses has a positive effect on the endocrine system, which is responsible for long-term body maintenance using glands and hormones, and helps keep you balanced. Certain yoga poses stimulate the pineal gland that secretes the melatonin hormone that regulates sleep patterns. As you regulate your circadian sleep cycles, you will begin to feel how rising with the sun will help you sleep better at night.
Build a Healthy, Consistent Routine
Our days are busy and time is valuable. It’s understandably tough to fit in a yoga class once the day’s to-do list begins to tick away, and by the evening things may come up that prevent you from practicing, or many times your energy is zapped by the end of a busy day. Doing your practice first thing in the morning provides mental relief- just imagine having your yoga practice and your exercise complete before you have time to think of anything else! With the feeling of self-empowerment from being disciplined in your routine comes increased mental strength. Where there is consistency, there is success.
Cultivate Body Awareness and Grace
We tend to be less stimulated in the morning so upon waking you might find you’re intuitively more inclined towards a more thoughtful physical practice. A more deliberate pace helps facilitate a beautiful connection between the mind and body, giving you the opportunity to move with physical intention. Cultivating this sense of mindfulness and grace on the mat can come with us off the mat and help us gracefully float through the day!
Set your Intention for the Day
An early morning practice helps set the tone for your entire day ahead. The importance of being calm and grounded before heading out into the often-chaotic world should not be underestimated. That traffic jam, rude person, temper tantrum, negative co-worker – your response to them can be softened as you remember to connect with your breath in yoga, to control your reactivity. Remember, the mind is the king of the body, but the breath is the king of the mind.
During your early morning yoga practice you can set an intention to practice love, and heartfelt compassion to all beings–including yourself–this will carry with you throughout your day long after leaving your yoga mat. A consistent yoga practice will help you attune yourself to a positive state of mind, leaving you more centered, clear-headed and able to focus on the beautiful day ahead.
Gina Marie Dunn is an Artist, Yogi, and a teacher of both. By living creatively, she hopes to share the happiness that comes from existing “outside the lines” with both her family and her students. In turn, the students remind her to take risks, create from a place of freedom, and most of all enjoy the process and beauty of this journey.
Follow her painting at www.ginamariedunn.com and her yogi adventures/teaching schedule at www.asanadealers.com. She teaches at various studios in Dallas, and you can find me in her classes at WeYogis, where I practice regularly.
Thank you Gina, for sharing your thoughts and inspiring us to start our Monday off right!
See you on the mat.