Sunrise Yoga with Sarah!

inversionBEEP, BEEP, BEEP — ugh, the alarm sounds and I think about hitting the snooze button, sleeping just a little bit longer, skipping my early morning yoga practice today. I can do it later, I think to myself, a little more sleep will feel good. But I know I won’t do it later. Once I had children, evening yoga became a thing of the past. It became too hard to leave the family at the end of the day to go to a yoga class. So, I don’t hit snooze. I don’t, because I remember how good I will feel after I’ve done my practice. It may not feel good to get up now, but I know it will be worth it later.

Many yoga texts and meditation traditions talk about the “auspicious hour,” the time right before the sun rises, as the correct time for asana (yoga postures) and meditation. I never thought I’d be able to do that, until a friend of mine suggested we meet each week for a 6 a.m. morning Ashtanga practice. I grumbled a bit, but decided to give it a try. It was hard the first few weeks, but soon I found myself looking forward to our morning practices. The days I woke up and practiced, I felt energized all day long. I was calmer with my children, more relaxed with myself, and in general, felt healthier. Also, it gave me great peace of mind knowing that my fitness was done for the day.A few years ago, this type of thinking was new to me. I was not a morning person. I used to practice yoga in the evenings after work and it was a great way to end the day. But once my first child was born, I found it more stressful than relaxing to get out in the evening. My mind thought about it throughout the day, and then if something sidetracked me from going, I felt down on myself.

Now, I teach a Thursday 6 a.m. yoga class and get to share my new-found love of the mornings with a studio full of people. I love to see the committed students that walk through the door each day — some seem eager, some still yawning. But they are there and I know that simply showing up is the work.

There are many benefits to practicing yoga in the morning. The deep yoga breathing practiced with sun salutations, Ujaii breathing, stimulates your body and mind. It refreshes the mind, removing grogginess that lingers from sleep. The oxygen circulation will literally feel like jolt of caffeine. As yoga teacher Andrea Klein says, “Yoga breathing will clear the fuzz away and you will have clarity and be ready to face your day brighter and more alive.”

Also, your body loves to move. If you watch an animal when they wake up, like a cat for instance, they stretch every muscle in their body. Most doctors would agree that humans should do the same thing. A yoga practice in the morning stretches muscles, improves circulation, stimulates digestion, and awakens the entire body.

In How to Become CEO, Jeffery Fox, writes, “Do one thing a day that you know no one else in your office does.” Early morning fitness can be that one thing to give you a sense of accomplishment. Set your alarm and give it a try for a month. Notice you how you feel the days you practice — is there a twinkle in the eye, a brightness to your day, creative juices flowing in the mind? You never know, you just might like it …