Extra! Extra! It’s the Yoga With Paul November newsletter.
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Getting out of a warm bed can be difficult on cold, dark mornings. If you can overcome that initial reluctance, however, you’ll find there are many advantages to getting up early. Why try a new rising routine for a week or two and see how you feel? You might find you have no interest in returning to your sleepy ways.
Here are five reasons to rise early.
Nothing starts the day off right like practicing yoga. I’ve taught early morning classes for years and it never fails to amaze me how students (and me) can come in bleary eyed and half-dozing and leave 90 minutes later full of energy and enthusiasm. Even if you don’t make it to the studio, 30-45 minutes of self-practice at home will transform your day.
Some people don’t like to eat right after they wake up; some just don’t have time. When you rise early, you give your body time to acclimate to the day, and you have the time to prepare, eat and enjoy a morning meal. This can help keep your blood sugar level during the day and prevent mid-morning cravings or lunch-time binges.
Most of the day is go-go-go. Getting up before everyone else is a chance to have peace and quiet, before beginning your family/work/life routine. You can use this time to meditate, journal, drink a cup of tea, or take the time for self-care. This sets you up for a calm, focused day, instead of feeling rushed and harried.
Sunrise? In London? In November? Are you kidding? I know, it doesn’t seem like there’s much to see most days, but being awake when the dawn breaks gives your mind and body a boost — even if it’s not a rosy pink sky. Simply experiencing the transition from night to day can boost your energy. And on the rare days when the sun lights up the clouds in glorious colour, you’ll be there to see it!
Getting up early leads to going to bed early, without fail. If you’re someone who has trouble switching off or struggle with insomnia, rising early will help ensure you are tired and ready for sleep. As you adjust to the new routine, the energising benefits of early rising mean you get more done during the day, meaning more time for relaxation in the evening.
The essential practice of Bikram, or any yoga, is simple: never quit.
We all have moments, days, or even weeks sometimes, when we think “I want to quit.” Yoga is too hard. Life is too busy. We have jobs, partners, kids, debts, commitments, houses, pets and our sanity to look after.
Sometimes yoga feels like one more line on a never-ending to do list. In those moments it can be tempting to quit. But yoga teaches us that quitting is not a solution. If we quit yoga when the going gets tough we are putting down the one tool that can help us hack through the jungle of stress and strife and come out smiling on the other side.
Yoga is where we hone our minds and bodies. It is where we return to ourselves. It is where we learn to breathe, be in the moment, and let go of external things. Yoga is also where we find community. Even if we dash in and out of the studio, we spend 90 minutes in a room with people who share positive energy and affirm the power of our practice.
Quitting is a temporary fix, like getting drunk after a bad week. But you wake up with a hangover, and feel worse than before.
If you are truly struggling for time and energy to practice yoga, it is better to modify, adjust, reschedule, or practice at home. Don’t quit on the one thing that will, over time, build a stronger mind, body, and spirit.
Have you ever quit yoga? What did it feel like?
This time of year, especially, it can be hard to find time for yoga. Or so it seems. But the truth is, we can practice yoga 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, if we choose.
Yoga means “unity” and the first step towards a 24/7 yoga practice is erasing the separation between yoga and not-yoga.
When does your yoga practice start: When you put on your costume? When you lie on your mat? When we begin the first breathing exercise?
When does it finish: After savasana? After a shower? When you walk out the studio door?
Instead of thinking of yoga as something we do, at a specific place and time, we must open our minds and hearts to yoga as a way of being. If we choose, we can practice yoga from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. We can choose to be mindful as we eat, commute, work, socialise, and especially as we practice physical asanas.
Rather than rushing through our days with stress, anxiety and frustration, we can face every situation with the calm of yoga. We can accept every situation as a small but integral part of the unity of our existence.
Yoga is always available. It is as big as we allow it to be. During the busy weeks of the holidays, let yoga permeate every part of your life – and see what happens.
Share your experiences of the bigness of yoga in the comments.