Traditional Mysore style Ashtanga Yoga is practiced early in the morning before you start your day. The classes I attend begin at 6:30am and finish at 8:45 and I find this really works for me because I have lots of other things going on after work and find it really easy to find excuses to skip practice unless I do it first thing in the morning!
Lots of people think you’re crazy for waking up more than 15 minutes before you have to be at work, so I’m often asked how the hell I can be bothered!
This has made me think about what motivates me to practice early in the morning and I thought it might be useful if I shared my thought process for other yogis who want to begin a morning practice 🙂
So without further ado here are my top 10 tips for motivating yourself to wake up a little earlier to practice your yoga routine, please share your own in the comments!
Your diet has a huge impact on how you sleep and how much energy you have. If you eat a greasy pizza and a huge bar of chocolate the night before you want to get up for yoga, you will find it extremely difficult as you haven’t provided your body with a nutritious source of energy and you will feel sluggish.
Trust me – I’ve tried and tested different ways to feel better in the mornings and this is the most important one for me. I know it’s tough if you lead a busy life but if you can choose fresh, light and nutritious foods for your dinner, you’ll find that you bounce out of bed the day after (well….almost
Go to bed at a reasonable time
Goes without saying but of course you just won’t have a great day if you’ve not had enough sleep. My rule is I switch the TV/computer/phone off at 9:30pm and start winding down – sometimes I read a book or chat to my boyfriend for a while in bed but I usually try to start drifting off by 10:30pm if I need to be up at 5:30am.
Everyone needs different amounts of sleep – that just works well for me!
Put your alarm on the other side of the room
If you’re prone to snoozing and then missing your wake up slot, this is essential. By the time you’ve got up and found your alarm you are up and awake anyway so you might as well go and practice yoga!!
Practice gratitude for your healthy body
There are so many people in the world who aren’t physically able to practice yoga (or any sport) and would do anything to be in your position. When your alarm goes off in the morning remind yourself that you are extremely lucky to have a healthy, able body and try not to take it for granted. Look after it and show your gratitude by getting your butt to class!
I’ve suffered injuries before and the frustration of being unable to practice asana for weeks has made me appreciate my body and practice so much more.
Pack your bags the night before
It takes me 15 minutes after my alarm goes off to leave the house. I make sure I have packed/prepared everything I need the night before so I can pretty much roll out of bed to the studio! That includes making a breakfast pot and packed lunch.
At first this might sound like a lot of effort but once you’ve done it a few times it becomes a really easy routine and saves you a few precious few moments in bed in the morning.
A few of my friends have said to me “I don’t know how you can go to bed at 10pm I have too much to do in the evenings!”
This is obviously a question of priorities. If you stay up until 1am doing other things then that’s your choice – you are prioritising those things over your practice.
If at the end of the week you find yourself wishing you’d made it to practice more often, then have a look at how you have spent your time and which activities you could sacrifice to make more room for your practice.
My yoga practice (and therefore my health and wellbeing) is my number one priority and if anything – work, people, diet – was stopping me from being able to prioritise it then I would change my situation!
Make a sticker chart
My boyfriend and I have a sticker chart on our fridge to keep track of the days we have motivated ourselves to wake up for our respective activities. I know it sounds a bit childish but somehow it gives us a tiny buzz of satisfaction when we get home and add our stars to the chart for the day! We are all kids at heart after all 🙂
Ask your teacher and fellow yogis for advice
Lots of my motivation has come from the pearls of wisdom of my yoga teacher. Everyone is different so the more people you ask for advice the more likely you are to find something that resonates with you!
Use a sleep monitoring app
There are apps out there that monitor your sleeping patterns and can wake you up when you are in a period of light sleep. You enter the latest time you need to be up and it will gently rouse you before that point whenever you are closest to being awake.
It’s funny how much difference this can make! It can also give you a good indication of how well you slept which has helped me to notice differences in the quality of my sleep depending on the food I’ve eaten the night before. Healthy, light dinner = lots of quality sleep.
Note: I believe this will only work well for you if you get to bed early enough. i.e. if you try to go to sleep at 1am and tell the app to wake you up at 5, you will feel rubbish no matter when it wakes you up!
This one called Sleep Time is free and it has nice gentle alarm sounds that get gradually louder so you’re not shocked into consciousness too abruptly 🙂
Keep a yoga journal
It doesn’t have to be really detailed but I have found that noting down how I feel / what I eat / how my practice feels has helped me figure out the best routine that works for me.
One thing I worked out from my yoga journal is that on the days you feel least like getting up – those are the days when you have a “breakthrough” practice. The first time I ever did a jump back in my Ashtanga practice was on a day I felt stupidly tired and sore from my previous day’s practice! After that I found it a little easier to drag myself out because I was excited by the thought of having another breakthrough 🙂
I would love to hear how you guys motivate yourselves to practice early in the morning (or to do anything else in the morning!).
Namaste friends x