My friend came over and handed me a spray the other day. It looked like an insect repellent so I shrugged my shoulders in dismay. It’s an Oxygen Shot she said. Just sprinkle it all over and you will feel as brand new. I knew oxygen shots helped you survive without breathing, but I didn’t know they standardized them like the old aerosol deodorants. Anyways, I told her that my morning yoga always gave me this oxygen shot and prepped me for the day. And I felt brand new, just like after the oxygen spray. Yes, Yoga breathing and asana does flood the brain with oxygen, but there is much more to a healthy morning yoga practice than the actual oxygen boost.
Yoga is transformational no matter what time of day you do it. This blog is not meant to discourage you from doing your practice later in the day. But it’s worth some of the benefits of morning yoga, so perhaps you will be inspired to give it a try. I simply want to outline some of the many benefits that come with an early morning practice so that perhaps you will be inspired to give it a try.
When you practice on an empty stomach you boost all the systems in the body – starting with the digestive and moving through the circulatory, nervous, lymphatic, cardio-vascular. You will accustom your body to burn calories faster and you will flush the toxins out first thing in the morning. This will boost the production of the human growth hormones, which revitalize the entire body. You will also figure out if what you ate yesterday served you. While you slept the body sorted through the food and digested everything. By the time you wake up most nutrients have been assimilated and you will know whether your body benefited from the food or feels grumpy and gassy. For me morning yoga brings out the best food wisdom.
Rising with yoga encourages better sleep habits as we stimulate the production of melatonin in the pineal gland and regulate the circadian rhythms. So when we go to bed we are nourished and refreshed. I feel that knowing you are going to get up to practice in the morning has a positive impact on how you prioritize adequate sleep. And funny enough, if you have a balanced sleep pattern you will boost the production of leptin, the fat burning hormone, and aid the body to naturally lose fat.
Starting your day with pranayama and asana means that you are starting your day cultivating breath awareness and the ability to observe your life from a more expanded and dispassionate perspective. As you focus on the breath, you help the mind zone on what’s important – it sets up the natural priority clock of your body. The body is limber and so is the mind. It is ready for creative problem solving and healthy decision-making.
The stretching in yoga makes your body tighter, lighter, and brighter. It raises serotonin levels, endorphins and other feel good chemicals and that will all show up in the glow of your skin. You are actually slowing down the ageing of the heart, liver and kidneys. All of your insides will reflect on the outside. You eyes will shine, your skin will glow – your body will feel taller and longer. YOu will feel ten years younger. And you sure will look it.
And a very fascinating discovery I have made throughout the years – the more rushed your morning feels, the better the reason reason to cut it with a morning yoga practice. If you do it regularly you will be surprised at how much more you can accomplish. Yes it’s amazing morning yoga stretches time so you can fit more activities in the course of a single day. It frees you from the dictates of linear time and gets you into the flow of universal time.
And because you have given yourself permission to slow down, to breathe deeply and to massage your body and mind internally, you feel much more focused and clear on how to proceed with the day. A sort of inner intelligence kicks in and you can ride through the day smoothly without fixing and mapping everything out in advance. This way you open up to chance, to serendipitous encounters, and magical occurrences. And as ineffable as they seem, trust me, incredible synchronicities happen when you stick to your morning yoga burst.
Morning yoga sets your mental tone and your mind is always steadier and calmer after the practice. You see clearly the things you need to handle first and what you could leave for after. A serene mindset will help you sail trough the day graciously, disengaged from the constant longings, mental chatter or the long to do list that could be simplified.
Starting in mindfulness can lead to a whole day of conscious picks. Because once you are through with the practice you are likely to be more tuned in and connected with your body and with your mind. And you will be susceptible to healthy choices in your eating, sleeping, thinking and social interactions.
I have personally noticed a dramatic difference in how I treat myself after a morning yoga shot. After my intention planting and sacred prayer, I feel grounded and I make sure that I continue that trend for the rest of the day.
If we can set up the time and create a little sanctuary of breath, movement and flow (we don’t necessarily need deities on the walls and malas on our necks) we will feel in tune with everything that moves, breathes and lives and we will take this resonant mood from the mat into the world.
And surely, no need of that triple espresso or the oxygen shot spray. It’s Yoga Day!
Morning Yoga Routine
This morning yoga routine moves through the full yoga spectrum to invite a rainbow of sensitivities, health benefits and to bring your day into an upswing. It warms the body with a modified Sun Salute and moves you into high lunges, grounding standing poses adorned by hip and shoulder opening binds to awaken every muscle, tendon, ligament, fiber and tissue. The levels and the weight shifts so you can get an even stretch through both sides, with an emphasis on those parts like the adductors, IT Band and psoas that usually get neglected in a regular yoga practice. Kneeling core toners alternate with low-lunges and twisted hip openers to tone and massage the thigh muscles. Seated spinal twists lend way to lateral and thoracic back bends to open up the ribs and create more space between the vertebrae. The sequence closes down with neutrally rotated forward bends and reclining back soothers, paired with gentle inversions to awaken all joints and boost all systems. A quick attunement to the wonder of the day takes you into a leap of expanded opportunities and luminous glow.