How to be a morning person: morning vs evening yoga

I had a question the other day about whether it’s better to do yoga in the morning or yoga in the evening. And it’s such a good question because I personally have a love-hate (hate/hate) relationship with mornings. (See here).

In fact, every single morning, without fail, I wake up with what we (husband + me) have affectionately come to refer to as “the pirate eye”. I literally cannot open my right eye, for several minutes. It feels like it is actually glued shut and I have to peer at Warren out my strong eye, (which in the morning is still pretty weak). This is usually accompanied with a section of drool and an unruly ‘shebong-ish’ hair do. I’m really quite attractive in the mornings.
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In fact, I’m SO overly docile in the mornings that I once remarked to husband, “Me trying to exercise in the morning is like trying to get a sloth to do a handstand.”

sloth doing a handstand

To which husband (ever the morning SUN-BEAM) replied, “Yes, but a sloth trying to do a handstand is better than a sloth NOT trying to do a handstand”

Kudos husband and your witty morning banter.

So anyway, this is what I know.

(mornings suck)

But, over the last little while I have become progressively better at dealing with this morning thing – so I thought I would share some of my tips and reasons why I think morning yoga is important. So here is a comparative list:

Benefits of doing yoga in the morning:

  1. It sets you up for a great day. (This we know is true – and it’s my number one reason for doing yoga in the mornings).
  2. It becomes easier to build up a regular routine, before “other things” from the day take over.
  3. It gives you a little bit of a mental win when you feel like you’ve already finished your practice bright and early.
  4. (If you are using yoga as a form of exercising) then yoga (or any morning activity) burns more reserve fuels.

Benefits of NOT doing yoga in the morning:

  1. Getting to sleep in a little later.
  2. Less energy (this may not be true for everyone but it’s definitely true for me)

Traditionally, yoga is practiced in the morning, after the digestive system has been cleared – and before eating, so that the body is light and the yoga can work on cleansing the body before the digestive system is put to work again. Yoga is practiced with the rising of the sun (Sun Salutations after all)

The thing is, there are loads of studies that show that getting active in the morning has LOADS of benefits, both physically and psychologically. But for those NON-MORNING PEOPLE (ahem, moi) this can sometimes be tricky.

So what can we do to deal with morning?

One of the books I’ve recently read, “The Miracle Morning” has some really practical tips for getting up and getting on it, in the mornings –

Drink a big glass of water:

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Our bodies often confuse dehydration with exhaustion and when we wake up after several hours of not drinking water – our bodies are often dehydrated. So load up on the H20. Place a big glass next to your bed before you go to sleep!

Have something specific you are going to achieve:
This could be a designated yoga practice, or a 10 minutes of reading, or walking etc. Whatever it is, make sure you get everything fully prepared for your activity. If it’s yoga, make sure that your yoga mat is laid out the night before, your yoga clothes are ready waiting or your walking shoes good to go! Preparing yourself for the morning the night before helps phenomenally.

Shift your mindset:
This has been the biggest helper for me – in changing the way that I see mornings. I am now slowly starting to see mornings as a little bit of sacred time. Getting up a bit earlier to have a few extra minutes dedicated to myself, my practice and focusing for the day. If you are of the “non-morning” variety – there is nothing else to do, except do it, until it becomes a habit. Continually say to yourself, (in your sexy morning breath)…

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Trust me, I KNOW how hard this is. It’s summertime in London now – so that does help massively when it’s not cold and miserable outside. (Check back in with me in December, Lol)

Allow yourself the time to ease into it
One of the great things about yoga is that it can meet you where ever you are:
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Whether that means you waking up feeling like five-thousand sun salutations with double-dip Caturanga’s thrown in for good measure –
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(^^  “Morning people”. URGH)

Or 3 cat cow variations, half sleeping with drool still hanging off your face:

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(Me, usually)

How I’ve managed to combat the energy-less state in the morning, is by starting with a 15-20 minute meditation (I use the Headspace app most days). After this, my body has usually woken up a little bit more and I’m feeling a (teensy) bit more awake and alive. I then gradually move onto some Cat/Cow variations and then into some Sun Salutations, using my own body as a guide to inform my practice. Starting with meditation allows your body and mind to sync with the more subtle energy – to match the (still sleeping) state of the town around you. As you and your practice begins to move to a more energetic practice (physical yoga), so to does the town around begin waking up, sun rising, birds chirping, people getting up etc.

I think that frequency of practice is more important than intensity of practice. Building up the HABIT and intention to practice every morning is more valuable than the actual practice, whatever that may be.

So if you have the opportunity and are REALLY not into mornings (hello, been there), then I would suggest even 10 minutes in the morning (building up that HABIT) for gentle stretching and a very easy almost restorative practice (loads of spinal twists and stretches, lots of work seated, or low to the mat and anything to work into the shoulders and neck) then if you have another 20 minute slot later in the day (when the energy levels are up a bit) then whack in another more power practice – standing sequences, sun salutations, dynamic flows and maybe a few arm balances. That’s the BRILLIANT thing about yoga – it really covers absolutely everything.

Lately I’ve been aiming to be out of bed by 6:15am (granted, my alarm clock goes off at 5:52). I’ve been getting better and better and it is definitely getting easier. Although just when I was finally getting the hang of it and feeling like I was ON TOP OF THE WORLD FOR WAKING UP BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE, husband has decided to wake up at 5am to do home gym and admin things. So when I wake up at 6:10 with epic pirate eye to see him bouncing off the walls covered in sweat and having sorted out half the world’s problems makes me DEFINITELY want to blow up my alarm and go back to sleep.

But, I’m working on it.

* * * * *

When do you practice yoga? What works best for you? I’d love to hear your tips for getting out of bed with a little more OOMf!

  1. Rhianne on June 30, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Great post Che – I’ve been wondering about this myself as well. I’ve been doing my yoga before bed to help my body relax and I usually sleep better for it as it calms my racing mind as well as helps my body ease up. I tried doing it in the morning but I always wake up really, really stiff – and I worry that I’ll hurt myself because I’ll try to do things I can do in the day but can’t in the morning. I’m not a morning person either and my body is in total agreement with me hahaha.

    I’m wondering if I was practising in the morning and the evening if it would help with my flexibility and stiffness a bit more? Can you do too much yoga in one day?

    • Ché Dyer on June 30, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      I usually end up doing two different kinds of yoga sessions in the day for this reason exactly! One is much more stretch out gentle and the afternoon one is more powerful and dynamic. I can definitely feel over time though that the morning practices have become easier (both psychologically and physically) But yes definitely if you are feeling stiffer in the morning then ease into it! x

  2. Kristy on June 30, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Firstly – I slept sooo well after yesterday’s “hot” yoga class! I must have stretched all my muscles into oblivion, because when I woke at five I almost bounced out of bed! Maybe there’s a tip in itself?

    I’ve been a 5am riser since forever as I like to go to the gym, swim or other sport before work.

    The most effective thing, especially in winter, is to give yourself no negotiation in the matter – just get up when the alarm goes off, even when you aren’t full of energy. No pondering about sleeping in.

    I tend to have a slightly OCD schedule of doing things – I pack for gym/work the night before and leave my gym clothes neatly folded in a pile in the spare room, in logical dressing order- in winter I want to get out of bed and straight into clothes. Not opening drawers and trying to find things.

    Thirdly, cats. Cats don’t agree with sleeping in and will train you to be a morning person. When I get out of bed, so does my cat. Then we go to my neat little pile of clothes in the spare room, I get changed, pat the cat for a bit, then we walk to the bathroom (cat waits impatiently outside), when i open the door, the cat leads me down the stairs, I let cat’s naughty sister out of the kitchen, she meows at us for being so late (she’s a 3am riser), I put coffee on, feed cats, open cat flap, grab coffee and go! If I try sleeping in past six, kitty chaos happens.. I suppose they keep me fit?

    • Ché Dyer on June 30, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      haha love this!! Yay for waking up early this morn!! (it’s TOTES the “hot” yoga!) My mom also puts all her gym clothes out in a pile right next to her bed! (She is a 5am riser too!) so maybe that’s another good tip!! Also… perhaps Warren and I need to invest in a cat! haha 🙂 hope you are enjoying the gorgeous sunshine!! x

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