Many people I meet are often perplexed when learning I wake up early to attend my yoga practice, especially those who are new to yoga, they look at me rather strangely.
I recognize this look of ‘disbelief' from when I started my yoga practice nearly a decade ago and wondered why people would ‘do that to themselves’. Little did I know that waking up early was just one of the walls I was about to break down in my life, along with many others... but that’s a story for another day.
Waking up at 4:45am to practice yoga is hard; it requires dedication, devotion and perseverance. All of these traits don't come naturally to me and I am determined to practice these regularly. Committing to a regular practice can be the hardest thing, believe me, it’s my on-going battle despite nearly a decade of practice! But it is an extraordinary training ground to observe your life and actions ‘off the mat’ and then measure whether or not these actions are having a positive or negative impact on your physical, mental and emotional health.
For instance, feeling ‘heavy’ during practice can be due to an undigested dinner the previous night, perhaps having an earlier dinner may be better for your body; or being distracted by an overpowering thought or worry during meditation can be a sign to take action and listen to that voice within; or if the body is sore it may be time to rest and restore.
By practicing yoga postures daily, you’ll notice your changes in yourself as the strength and flexibility of both body and mind begins to improve.
But many students ask me why do I practice so early? Why not practice later at night? There are many reasons for this. Many traditional yogic texts state that the hours between 4am and 6am are the most conductive for meditation and yoga practice because the mind is at its stillest and the rest of the world hasn’t yet sprung into action, so there’s a sense of calmness in the air. If these hours are a little too early for you, then one of my teachers Guruji Iyengar states ‘practicing a bit later is also OK’.
Practicing first thing in the morning, before outside messages broadcast into our minds invites a level of focus and concentration that is hard to achieve later in the day creating a perfect training ground to harvest that state of awareness for the rest of the day. As a woman in society I have many roles. A wife, mother, business owner, teacher, daughter…. but at that time no one requires any thing from me, all that is required is for me to be present on my mat. Some days just being ‘on’ my mat can be the biggest sense of achievement.
There is a beautiful stillness about early morning practice. The quietness at that time, especially in the winter months when the moon is still out invites calmness into the mind.
Practicing ‘Sun Salutes’ can create a connection with the environment and the natural rhythms of the universe. It reminds me of the greatness and wonders of life as I welcome the sun each morning. The ‘awakening’ from a morning savasana practice, is a metaphor for welcoming a new day - a new life.
Over the years I have developed some tricks that help to get to practice yoga in the morning:
If you would like to try a morning practice, at YogaLife Wellness we offer yoga classes 7 days per week. On Monday and Wednesday mornings we offer a 6am class (doors open at 5:45am), and also have yoga classes every day of the week at 9:30am.
See you on the mat.
This is one of the standing poses in which the pelvis faces forward, parallel to the front plane of the body. It is the natural progression from warrior II, with one hand placed on the floor and the other stretching over the head.
Pelvis and legs
The back leg buttock muscle extends the hip and turns it outward. The group of muscles on the inside of the thigh extend and draw the leg towards the midline stabilizing the back foot on the floor. The tensor fascia lata and gluteus medius turn the hip inward. This balances the strong outward pull by the large buttock muscle. The quadriceps, straighten the back knee. The muscle along the front of the shin draws the ankle towards the shin, which stretches the calve muscles and the muscles along the outside of the calf. The psoas and pectinius muscles bend the hip of the front leg. The muscle crossing diagonally over the midline of the thigh refines this action. The quadriceps of the front legs activates to support the body weight. The muscles along the outside of the front leg calve turn the ankle slightly outwards. The foot is pressed firmly against the floor by flexing the ankle.
The lower side abdominal oblique and transverse muscle draws the trunk towards the bent leg, stretching the same muscles on the upper side of the trunk. On the lower side the muscles along the spine and those in the lower back bend the trunk to the side stretching the corresponding muscles on the upper side.
Shoulders and arms
The muscles attached to the side of the ribs and the shoulder blade straightens the lower side arm drawing the same side shoulder blade away from the midline and pressing the hand to the floor. The triceps straighten the elbows the back portion of the deltoid on the lower arm draws the arm away from the midline. Since the hand in fixed on the floor this action turns the chest upwards and opens it. On the lower side the muscles that wrap the kidneys and lower arms ribs opens the chest through the closed chain contraction. This occurs because the muscles of the upper arm remains fixed with the origins on the lower back moving, lifting the chest. Muscles over the shoulder blade turn the arm outward. The lower section of the trapezius draws the shoulders away from the ear freeing the neck.
Mothers Day (Sunday 14th May) is just around the corner, and if you haven’t bought her a pressie yet we have some great gift ideas... Why not get your mother an extra special Yoga Mats by YogaLab? We have heaps of fabulous designs at $108 that comes with a free mat-carrier! And if you’re still not sure what to get, a Gift Card is always a great option! You can gift her a 6 week Beginners course !! Otherwise check out our new [Sexy] Satin eye pillows at $15. We have gorgeous Himalayan Rock Salt Lamps at $34. Special and unique gifts for your unique momma! And if you haven't tried Yogi tea check out our huge selection at the centre, and gift yourself and your mum a nice cuppa tea! On Sunday 14th May we have a special Kundalini Yoga Class at 5pm - 6pm. Come along with your mother and enjoy a fun and different afternoon. Kundalini yoga is mostly a gentle, seated posture but not the less a powerful experience! Contact us ASAP if you would like to book, as places are filling up fast.
Give the gift of yoga and treat your mother for a very special gift xx