I feel like a billion bucks when I get the chance to rise with yoga. It fills me up with vitality and prana and sets a mood of openness and sheer delight in what the day has to offer. Sometimes judging from my morning practice I can tell exactly how the day will unfold. I used to be an early bird, rising religiously at the blush of dawn for years to do my “sadhana”, but the last couple of years I have loosened things up a little bit. I no longer do a 4:30 am practice, but make sure that I end by 9 am. Even if I can’t find the time for asana, I never miss my pranayama and meditation.
I love to savor the quiet time with myself and enjoy the early morning stillness while everyone around is asleep. I found the early morning hours to be my most productive time of the day, given that my mind was fresh and there were little to no interruptions. As you immerse in this tranquility, time stops, actually stretches and you are no longer a victim of the information overload that comes through all electronic and mobile devices. And the funny thing is, if you manage to make the time for the morning immersion you are amazed at how much more you are able to achieve and accomplish throughout the rest of the day. You notice how all of a sudden you can control your emotions and not burst on people, how you feel more secure and grounded.
I always tell my students that morning yoga is for health and evening or afternoon yoga is for flexibility and soothing. Practicing on an empty stomach and reaping the deep physiological, physical, mental, and spiritual benefits is truly empowering. You are actually creating an automatic response in the body to wake up at the same time every day and getting rewarded for it. You are more energized, open and alert. As you dance through the entire spectrum of poses you allow the glands to secrete invaluable hormones and elicit the self-regulating mechanism of the body.
Every twist purifies your filter organs and stimulates the distribution of nutrients through the blood flow. Every inversion activates the pineal gland and increases the production of melatonin to regulate sleep patterns and allow for a restful sleep. Every standing pose anchors you into your essence and fosters the inner fire of creativity. Every backbend opens the heart and helps you deal with relationships with compassion and grace. Every arm balance empowers you to make bold decisions and take leaps of faith. And every forward bend calms the mind and the nervous system so you can see clearly and act wisely.
As you create a healthy habit of exercising early you make yoga part of your spiritual hygiene and find the inner resolve to face every situation with equanimity and wisdom. By building a consistent routine in the morning you are creating self-care habits that always keep you mentally fit and physically glowing. I know, it’s tough to fit a morning practice in a busy day, but if you get disciplined and persevere you will notice that the day becomes really productive. You get more done in less time and you optimize all your resources to fit your current needs.
My morning practice keeps me mentally lucid and I sense when I need to push and when I need to back off. I also feel I get to practice the spiritual tenets in real life. I embrace the day with compassion and feel that I no longer need to beat the odds in order to emerge triumphant. I just consider every moment a curve of my spiritual schooling and I don’t fall prey to the schizophrenic pull of success and failure. I owe being mindful of life and open to accepting every challenge with a sense of curiosity to my morning yoga practice.
I feel unwavering discipline and structure are the main ingredients that build a strong morning practice. Even in days when I feel down, I still find the inner resolve to roll out the mat and be present with myself. And trust me, the most powerful insights I’ve had about my work, family and teaching have actually emerged during my morning practice. I practice devotionally and with every breath I merge with the creative force of the Universe and let it move my body and spirit. I don’t force the mind to stop, it just focuses on the breath and lands in a place of spacious awe. I feel immense gratitude. I see my goals clearly. My entire day turns out really productive and grounded.
The importance of being calm and grounded before heading out into the chaos of daily life should not be underestimated. That traffic jam, hyped up crowd on the train, negative co-worker – that’s not a problem if we remember to connect with our breath and control it. The mind governs the body, but the breath governs the mind. During our morning yoga we set an intention to convey love, and heart felt compassion to all sentient beings- this carries us throughout our day long after leaving the mat. Our vibratory frequency starts to increase and others reciprocate. The world starts to reflect this peace back to us.
Funny enough, intense morning yoga not only regulates the hormones, but also speeds our metabolic rate, which means we can burn calories quicker. It is the perfect way to promote healthy digestion, clear the gut from toxic residue and bolster nutrient assimilation to all the vital organs. Once the body has a sufficient amount of nutrients moving through, it will begin to metabolize fats and carbs faster, which allows you to eat more. As your yoga practice starts to evolve, your frequency will rise to the point that you draw whatever you manifest into your life. Your actions and thoughts will team up to inform healthy decisions and Earth-conscious choices.
And if you still crave your jolt of coffee – yoga is the perfect substitute. The fresh oxygen obtained through pranayama will wake up the brain and give the body a boost. And it lasts all day long, so you don’t need a second cup of coffee. You are ready to move on with clarity of purpose and an open mind.
If you’re not the early bird, make a commitment to wake up early for a week and see how this changes your perception and ultimately your life. Don’t hesitate, don’t procrastinate, just give it a go and see for yourself. You will be rewarded a million times. I promise…Gear up…”your” promise starts now….
Morning Yoga Routine: Gear Up (open level)
This routine blends a variety of invigorating, grounding and centering poses that mix into a jolt of kinetic and mental “coffee.” A grounding warm up from mountain pose allows for correct postural alignment – empowering the legs and arms and stretching the sides of the waist. Abdominal ripples with shoulder openers wake up all the systems and foster a sense of undulating flow. Low lunges expand into standing warriors and descend down into supported arches to create a multi-leveled and multi-sensory experience. Kneeling twists morph into meridian crossings to bring about a state of neutrality and calm, while bound externally rotated standing and seated poses wake up the hips and shoulders. Joyous backbends coupled with gentle inversions nurture all the glands and open the heart. A brief standing meditation helps set a vibrant intention and gears you up for a productive and delightful day ahead.