“It’s important to practice in the morning. Not because in the morning practice is better. Actually many times in the evening we are more awake and the body is more flexible. But its crucial to practice in the morning, because the morning creates the day. It’s not good to go out in the world without being a bit with ourselves. Practicing in the morning, we listen and talk to ourselves, before listening and talking to others. This is worthwhile even if we have to get up a little bit earlier.”
I love the above quote. It really speaks to the power of connecting with yourself before starting your day and this is really what practicing yoga in the morning invites, a deep connect to YOU before you head out into the world. This connection fosters a sense of calm and being grounded as you move through your day and navigate the complex world of work and relationship.
There can be no doubt that it can be much harder to wake up in the morning and practice as we relish the extra sleep before starting our day, however, the benefits are many and it helps set the tone for your day versus practicing at the end of the day to unwind from the stress and tension that has accumulated throughout your day. Also, often when we leave our practice until the end of the day we procrastinate and it does not end up happening . . . Speaking from experience 😉
The traditional yogic texts also speak to the power of practicing in the morning and I will speak to a few of those references here.
Why practice in the morning (other than it feels really good once you get used to the early start time):
- The traditional yogic text say that the time between 4 am and 6 am are the most conducive to practicing yoga. Part of the reason why is that the mind is still quite first thing in the morning and it is more willing to sit in quiet meditation and connect to breath. A quite mind creates less of a distraction. The world around you is also quite, which is also more conducive to practice;
- The Surya Namaskar’s or Sun Salutations that we all practice in yoga, especially in Vinyasa/Flow style classes and know so well were traditionally practiced in the morning. Surya = Sun and Namaskar – Salutation or Invocation. They are the way to traditionally greet the beginning of each new day and invite in a connection with the rhythms of the natural world;
- Ayurveda which is the sister science to Yoga also teaches us the importance of practicing in the morning in order to stimulate the digestive fires, i.e. your metabolism and get your circulatory system going. There are even some daily practices called Dina Charya that you do before your morning practice according to the Ayurvedic tradition to help prepare your system for your day, for example drinking warm water with lemon and oil pulling;
- As we sleep our muscles tighten and shorten, specially the fascia between our muscles fibres, so we often wake up feeling stiff and sore. To learn more watch this video by Gil Hedley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TwAvT_ucjY (it’s quite entertaining). That being the case when we stretch and move our bodies in the morning it helps to break up these adhesions helping us feel more limber and tension free as we move into our day;
- In order to stimulate us waking up in the morning the body releases cortisol which is associated with the sympathetic nervous system or “Fight or Flight” and this stress response can remain with us as we head out into our day, often rushing through our mornings in order to get out the door. What this means is that we are operating from a place of stress. However, if we can create some time and space for a yoga practice in the morning then we are able to calm our nervous system through facilitating a connection to our breath and we are starting the day from a much more grounded and centred place.
- Practicing Yoga in the morning can also help shift your mood. In a study conducted by the Yoga Biomedical Trust in London, 94% of participants with anxiety were significantly helped by practicing yoga regularly each morning, and 82% of those with insomnia reported valuable benefits too.
Needless to say tradition and science are on the side of an early morning practice. Also, this time of year morning practice feels easier to shift into as the birds are awake early and the sky starts to lighten at 530 am!
Feel free to come and check out our morning classes happening every day Monday through Friday 630-730 am and try it out for yourself.
We hope to see you on the mat soon!