Ayurveda is an ancient form of medicine practiced in India and other places around the world. Contrary to conventional or ‘modern’ medicine, ayurveda focuses on the root cause of ailments rather than just the symptoms, and correcting imbalances that lead to disease. Ayurveda encourages us to follow the cycles of nature for things like digestion and sleep. Because of this, the practice recommends waking up before sunrise to align with the natural energy flow of the Universe.
Before I had my son, I was one of those people who slept until 10:30 on the weekends, maybe even 11. Despite all the sleep I’d gotten, I’d still feel sluggish and unmotivated the next day. I chalked it up to exhaustion from the week and an opportunity for a ‘lazy day’ before returning to work. But what was really happening was that I was missing the most energetic time of the day. An ayurveda practitioner I saw for awhile compared the energetic flow of a day in nature to surfing a wave in the ocean. When you catch the wave as it rises, you reap the benefits of its energy. When you miss it, you are struggling to catch up.
Creating a healthy early morning routine can consistently improve the trajectory of your day. Taking time out before plunging ahead into the day’s activity is a way to center and ground yourself. Starting your day with a yoga class creates a healthy habit that sets you on the right path.
The energy that you attract and create during an early morning yoga session can be used throughout the day. In this post, we’ll talk about three major benefits of early morning yoga, and offer some tips to help get you motivated.
At Inspiring Actions, we offer early morning classes to get your day started off peacefully. Our classes will quiet your mind and warm up your body to put you in optimal condition to start your day.
Visit our schedule here for a full list of our classes! If driving to one of our studios in Hudson or River Falls, Wisconsin doesn’t fit with your schedule, some of our classes are offered online!
Early Morning Yoga Benefit #1 – Your Stomach is Empty
It’s generally accepted that it’s best to practice yoga on an empty stomach. Although not always possible, it’s best to wait four hours after a heavier meal to practice, which is what makes early morning yoga so perfect. Food takes up space in the abdomen and makes our bodies heavier. Asana often require twisting, bending, and other movements that would be more difficult with a full stomach. Eating a meal also makes us feel heavier, which can make it more difficult to flow from one pose to another, be upside down, etc.
Practicing early morning yoga with an empty stomach has the added advantage of kickstarting our digestion and metabolism. Many yoga poses engage our core, and this movement stimulates energy flow in the solar plexus chakra (read more about the chakras here). This energy ignites what Ayurveda calls our “digestive fire”. By practicing yoga before you eat, you are basically starting your digestive motor before anyone is even in the car!
Early Morning Yoga Benefit #2 – Warms Up Your Body
I mentioned that I used to be a late sleeper, but that all changed when I had my son. I quickly discovered how early kids get up, and how much earlier I’d need to get up for any chance of some alone time in the morning. I started getting up at 5:15 every day (ok…..most days!) to do some yoga, reading and meditation before my son inevitably wakes up at 6:30, or earlier! Now that I do this semi-regularly, I notice that I feel much different on the days I don’t stretch and move my body before going about my day.
A lot of us roll out of bed, brush our teeth, make a cup of coffee or tea and head out the door or to whatever work we do at home. Adding any type of self-care event into our morning routine is helpful, but it’s especially helpful when it gets our body moving. When we wake up, we’ve just been laying down for however many hours and our muscles are stiff and rigid. Warming up and stretching our muscles right away in the morning results in better posture and less pain and make us less susceptible to injury.
Early Morning Yoga Benefit #3 – Helps Create a Habit
Practicing early morning yoga can increase our chances of developing a habit because it will generally be at the same time of day, before you head off to your daily routine. If you set aside a specific time to practice and do it consistently for awhile, it will eventually become something that feels weird to skip, like brushing your teeth or letting the dog out.
This is especially true if your early morning yoga practice includes physically going to a studio and participating in a class. Sometimes, just knowing that other people are expecting to see you in class can motivate you to show up when you might otherwise hit the snooze button.
Start small: Set yourself an obtainable goal. If you are going to practice at home, set aside the first 15 minutes or so of waking up and dedicate it to asana. If you are going to a studio or taking a class online, pick a class that is realistic; you might not want to start your day with a 90-minute ashtanga class, for example. Whatever you choose, ensure it’s something that fits into your schedule and remember, that extra 20 minutes you get from hitting the snooze button a couple times pale in comparison to the energetic effects of an early morning yoga class.
Accountability: If it’s possible, find someone to start your early morning yoga initiative with. Maybe you have a friend or family member who is inspired by your motivation and will join you for a class. Otherwise, if you start attending a specific class regularly, other people in the class who are doing the same thing will begin to expect you there, and you can hold each other accountable for showing up.
I do my early morning yoga at home, so there is no one to call me out if I don’t do it. To counteract this problem, I started keeping track of what days I yoga’d and what days I didn’t, on a whiteboard. I write down each day of the week with a box next to it. If I got up for my practice, I put a check mark in the box. If not, the box remains empty. Looking at the empty box for a day I skipped motivates me to get up the next day.
At Inspiring Actions, we offer a variety of early morning yoga classes to help you set this incredible habit. Our classes will quiet your mind and stretch your body, so you can go out into the world with a more peaceful mindset. Check out our full list of classes here!
We also recognize that early morning yoga is not obtainable to all. You might have a schedule that doesn’t allow for it, or other early morning obligations. If that’s the case, simply create a consistent time to do yoga. If it can’t be early in the morning, maybe you can set aside a time over lunch, or pick a class that starts right after work. Whatever you’re able to do, any effort is beneficial, and we’d love if you’d join us at Inspiring Actions!
Click here for a full description of the Ayurveda daily routine, known as Dinacharya.