Start a morning yoga practice at home, and you will feel great throughout the day. You’ll also notice significant changes over time after you’ve had a consistent practice for a while
Why practice in the morning?
There are a few reasons practicing yoga in the morning is advantageous.
Sure, you can practice yoga at any time of day, but practicing yoga in the morning ensures that you actually make it to your mat every day.
If you try to practice during your lunch break or in the evening, you are less likely to effectively form a regular habit because other distractions can come in the way.
If you wake up early to practice yoga, on the other hand, that is YOUR time you are giving yourself. Nothing can take that away from you.
Also, you’ll be able to handle the stresses of the day with greater ease.
When you practice yoga every morning, you are starting the day off with the intention of teaching yourself to breathe through uncomfortable situations.
You can use the time to cultivate other desirable qualities as well, like patience and compassion, which will reverberate throughout the day.
Finally, practicing at home removes other obstacles from your practice.
When you practice at home, you can choose the length of your practice ahead of time, so even if you only have 10 minutes, you still get a practice in.
Also, you save time and gas money when you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to get to that studio class!
Still, knowing how to start and what goals to set can be tricky.
It’s the unfortunate truth that many people don’t even try because they are overwhelmed just by the idea of starting a morning practice at home. Before you can begin, you have to understand the power of habit.
Once you understand habits, you have the power to change old ones and create new ones. With this understanding of psychology, you’ll have a much easier time starting a morning yoga habit.
How to Start a Morning Yoga Practice at Home
The night before you start your yoga practice, make sure you have everything you’ll need for the morning.
Choose Your Space.
You want to make sure you have enough space to practice comfortably. You might need to move some furniture around to create the perfect environment.
Do this before you go to bed, and test it out to see that you have plenty of room to move around in all directions.
Select a Surface.
Although practicing on a yoga mat is standard in yoga studios, it is certainly not your only option. If your carpet is clean (as in, you have a no-shoe policy and don’t mind rubbing your nose in it), you can practice right on it if you like.
You can also get a yoga rug or towel to put on top of your mat while you practice. Or you might just like to practice on a wood floor. Try sitting and stretching on a few different surfaces ahead of time and find the option that works for you.
Determine the length of time you’d like to dedicate to yoga every morning, but start by doing less than you think you can do. It is far better to do a little yoga often than to do a longer practice only every once in a while.
To begin, choose a duration that almost seems too short or too “easy.”After a few days of this, lengthen it by five minutes, and then lengthen it again a few days later. Do this incrementally until you find a time frame that works best for you.
Remember, it isn’t as important that you have a long practice as it is for you to get onto your mat every morning in the first place. If a shorter practice is what it takes to get you on the mat, then that’s fine, so long as you practice regularly.
Choose a Sequence.
If you are relatively new to yoga and/or have never guided your own practice, it is important that you find an online class that you like and choose it ahead of time.
If you have more experience, plan out your sequence ahead of time to give you a framework in the morning. You might not necessarily get to everything, but the more structure you have in place, the more successful your practice will be.
As in a Mysore practice, you are doing the same sequence every day can be a good thing, especially when you’re leading yourself.
Even if you’re super flexible, having some props available can make a morning practice more comfortable. Keep a pillow, bolster, or rolled-up towel near your yoga in case you want to elevate your hips or shoulders during your practice.
Having a yoga strap and a couple of blocks handy would also be a good idea.
Lay Out Your Clothes.
Prepare your clothes the night before so you don’t have to think about what to wear in the morning. You’re going to want comfortable, stretchy clothing to practice in, but avoid wearing your PJs. Clothes that are too loose can be a distraction during your practice.
Also, if you have long hair, you’re going to want to have a hair elastic, headband, and/or clips ready to keep your hair out of your face.
Set Your Alarm.
Decide how long you would like to practice and set your alarm to give yourself enough time to settle in and practice. For example, if you usually wake up at 7 and would like to practice for 20 minutes and then take a quick shower, I would recommend setting your alarm for 6:10.
This will give you enough time to go to the bathroom and change into your yoga clothes before your practice and also leaves a little space for a meditation or Shavasana at the end of your practice.
Pantabi Jois, the creator of Ashtangha yoga famously said “Without Coffee, there is no Prana,” so if you’d like to have a cup of coffee before your practice, you can set that up too. Just make sure you schedule it in and only drink a little. If your belly is too full, your practice will not be comfortable!
Go to Bed Early
Make sure you go to bed early enough to get at least 8 hours of rest. If you don’t get enough sleep the night before, you’ll have a much harder time getting out of bed to do your practice.
Also, you won’t feel as great throughout the rest of the day, so your in-built reward mechanism of blissful yoga-induced invigoration will be reduced. Even if you’re not very sleepy, go to bed earlier anyway. Your body will get used to the earlier bedtime within a week.
Wake-Up. Get On Your Mat Practice.
This part is pretty self-explanatory, and if you’ve prepared properly, this should go very smoothly. There is a beautiful stillness in the air when you wake up early to practice. Make sure you soak up the feeling!
After you’ve completed your morning practice, spend some time patting yourself on the back for a job well done. Setting up an additional award ahead of time can also be a good motivation to keep your practice going.
For example, you might have a piece of dark chocolate as a post-yoga treat, or you can set up a long-term reward like if you do your practice for 10 mornings in a row, you get to buy new yoga clothes.
If you sleep through your alarm one morning, don’t give up! Get right back on your mat the next morning. Habits can only be formed when you are persistent. With time, your whole life can change.