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.
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.”
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.
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:
- 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).
- It becomes easier to build up a regular routine, before “other things” from the day take over.
- It gives you a little bit of a mental win when you feel like you’ve already finished your practice bright and early.
- (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:
- Getting to sleep in a little later.
- 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:
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)…
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)
(^^ “Morning people”. URGH)
Or 3 cat cow variations, half sleeping with drool still hanging off your face:
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.
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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!