by Chaille Lemcke
We’ve all heard the age-old saying ‘the early bird gets the worm.’ That said, I’ve spent decades terrified at the thought of getting up at the crack of dawn to do anything much less practice yoga, resisting the siren call of the morning. This has extended to everything from convincing myself that I am wired to be a creature of the night – with all certainty that my best work (as a product of procrastination and pressure) has always been at night – to the mentality of it being a fun and mysterious experience to be up all night. Oh, I could wax on and on about the moon and the poetry of the night…and rest assured this post a would be a literary masterpiece if I was writing at 3 a.m. (I kid.)
But, well…things have changed. 1. I am married to a morning person whose alarm goes off at 5 a.m. and marvel at his ability to be productive before 8 a.m., 2. I have a full time job, 3. a full time kid, 4. the rest of the world generally operates when it’s light out, and 5. I am no longer young, and need consistent sleep – ideally eight hours a night to function optimally.
The reckoning may have started when I finally learned how to snowboard, well into adulthood, feeling the joy of laying fresh tracks, which required getting on the road by 6 a.m. It was likely around that era when my thinking began to shift towards being open to the notion of magical mornings. Fast forward a few years later, after many failed attempts with wasted money on gym memberships (plus home equipment turned clothing-drying-rack), when I discovered yoga in the form of a lovely neighborhood studio. But there was a ‘catch.’ Class at 6 a.m. was the only option that could work with my schedule…waaah?
And so it began. I reluctantly went to that first early morning class, became exposed to yoga, and gradually committed over time to consistently attending class when the world is quiet, before the hamster wheel of work and life distractions creep in. Truth be told, in the decade since then, this night owl has fallen off of the morning bird tree countless times, but never ceases to be amazed and inspired by how it feels to return. Since then, after becoming a yoga teacher, this inspiration has fed into the desire and commitment to teach early morning classes. The ultimate reckoning.
As for the benefits and reasons for committing to a morning yoga practice, you can search on the benefits of a morning yoga practice and come up with 14 million results. Here are just a few of the biggest reasons that resonate with me as a former night owl:
- You allow yourself to have a little time in the morning without distractions
- Stretching after sleeping is good for your muscles and helps to prevent injury
- Sets the tone for how you will navigate the inevitable challenges of the day
- Day typically gets away from you and there are evening activities and surprise obligations that come up
- No regrets – never sorry
A few quotes from the masters:
Morning is the most peaceful time to practice yoga. The challenge of getting out of bed is soon over – it’s only hard for the first few moments. I’ve never thought to myself after my morning yoga practice, ‘That sucked, I should have stayed in bed’ EVER! The benefits of waking up and practicing yoga are cumulative, and over time I feel better and better. – Satya Larrea, Owner and Yoga Therapist at Whole Yoga
One thing students used to tell me after those early morning classes was this: getting up in the dark cold of winter and showing up for class is something you never regret. I’ve said that to my students ever since. So there’s a nugget of wisdom the teacher learns from the student. – Sarah Russell, Owner of Breathe in Denver, CO and my first yoga teacher
To be clear, yoga anytime, day or night, is a wonderful thing to experience and practice. One must do what works best for their schedule. For those of you who struggle with finding the time, committing to a morning practice for yoga or anything else you want to cultivate as a sustainable habit can transform your life.