Power House Yoga Berwick - Articles
Rise and SHINE - Morning Yoga Benefits
Ok, so dragging yourself out of bed at 5am to get to a 6am yoga practice may not be appealing for most, but I can honestly say from experience that once you create a habit of it, you’ll struggle getting through your day without it!!
The wee hours of the morning - 4am to 7am (changeable depending on season and sunrise) - are known in the ancient yogic world to be a very auspicious time of the day to practice yoga and to meditate. It is known as Brahmamuhurtha (Period of Brahman) and is of a Sattva (purity) quality in mind and in atmosphere. This time of the day represents the space between dreaming and waking - A place which is calm and serene, peaceful and yet to be filled up with the busyness of life. It is in this quiet time where, as yogi’s, we are able to connect to the Universal Consciousness (energy) on a much deeper level than any other time of the day. And it’s nice and quiet on the roads, so getting to class is stress FREE!!
So that’s the yogic explanation, what about the western physical explanation? Another reason most of us would prefer to stay in bed at that hour is because our bodies disagree with any kind of movement so early on let alone a yoga practice. For a lot of us, it can take hours before our bodies feel like they are anywhere near ready to embark on physical activity. But just as we need to create a habit mentally for getting ourselves out of bed, we also need to create a habit physically. And believe it or not, our bodies do get used to it. In fact, our bodies generally pick up the routine quicker than our minds and it’s our bodies that then crave the movement of yoga first thing in the morning.
Every cat in the world wakes up and goes through its big stretching and yawning routine each and every morning (cat lovers are nodding their heads as they read this!). Cats intuitively know that to stay limber they must move it, or they’ll lose it. When we sleep our bodies fascia thickens somewhat and creates what some scientist call a “fuzz” [Dr Gill Hedley – The Fuzz Speech]. Bringing movement into the body first thing in the morning melts that “fuzz” and allows our tissue fibres to free up and slide over one another more freely. Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdRqLrCF_Ys if this interests you.
Once we develop the habit of getting out of bed and getting to that 6am yoga class, our bodies are given the time and opportunity to slowly wake up and open up to the activities of the day. And instead of the body needing hours to “wake up”, we tend to find a really nice spring in our step as soon as we leave class which sets us up for a much more pleasant day in whatever physical activities we do. We develop more physical vitality and well-being, more range of movement, more blood flow and therefore healing properties, more physical awareness and strength keeping our bodies safe from workplace injury, the list goes on!!
Now let’s talk about the benefits mentally. For those of you who are avid yoga practitioners, you already know that our yoga practice is not just physical. In fact, it is only 1/8th physical as per the Eight Limbs of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga). The mental benefits of our yoga practice definitely outweigh the physical benefits – having said that, in no way am I placing less importance on the physical benefits of yoga as they are enormous and alone can create great change in a person. The physical benefits are what bring most of us Westerners to the yogic practice in the first place and are very complimenting to other physical activities. However, once we start to dive deeper into the yogic practice, we realise that mentally is where the work needs to be done to really see transformation physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. Our yoga practice not only helps us to be our best physical selves but it helps us become the best versions of ourselves in everyday life!! Less reactive, more centred. Less judgemental, more accepting. Less critical, more patient. Practicing the early morning yoga classes can set you up to start your day with more acceptance, more patience, more kindness and more awareness of yourself and others. Our yoga practice offers us more clarity for decision making, more understanding for life’s obstacles and more empathy for other beings we share our energies with.
Ok, so there are a lot of benefits for practicing the early morning yoga classes. But what if I just can’t get myself to a 6am class (for whatever reason) I hear you ask…??? Simple! Create your own early morning home yoga practice. Again, easier said than done I know! That’s why our S.M.I.L.E. Program (21 day challenge) sets us up for a regular home yoga and meditation practice. But without the program, what do we do? All you have to do is set up a space in your home and go through a few Sun Salutations as detailed below. Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara – Salute to the Sun), energize your body as you stretch and strengthen all the major muscles groups. It also stimulates and wakes every system of your body up and gets them fired up for your day ahead.
Sun Salutations – Surya Namaskara A (Salute to the Sun).
From standing (Tadasana) – core engaged, inhale reach up, exhale as you fold forward – bend your knees to keep your lower back safe (Uttanasana), inhale to a halfway lift – long straight spine (Urdhva Mukha Uttanasana), exhale to high or low pushup (Chaturanga Dandasana), inhale to upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), exhale to downward facing dog (Ardho Mukha Svanasana) – stay here for 5-10 breaths, look forward, walk or step your feet up to your hands, inhale to halfway lift, exhale to forward fold, inhale to standing – arms reaching above your head, exhale hands to heart centre. Repeat the whole lot 3, 5 or even 10 times.
Take it at your own pace and add whatever pose you feel appropriate for you that you have learned in your yoga classes. Listen to your body and if it feels good, run with it, if not then back off. Let your breath guide your practice and let your core and focus (power house!) direct it. It takes time to develop a habit of it, so give yourself that time… You and your body-mind won’t regret it!!
If you have the luxury of facing out towards a window with the sunrise coming in, treat yourself to that experience often. You won’t regret it!!
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And as I always say… Don’t just take my word for it… Try it out for yourself. Remember, it’s hard to start the routine but once you form a habit, it’ll become second nature. The hardest part is getting yourself out of bed. Make the conscious decision to just get up and go. You’ll notice that you’ll need to go to bed earlier at nights which creates a healthier routine for most of us anyway.
Here at Power House Yoga, we offer 6am classes Monday to Thursday. Our classes have a Yin Yang approach which simply means we start off slow (Yin) and work our way up to a more physically exerting practice (Yang). We believe in balance – Balancing out the yang with the yin and vice versa. We have the added HEAT factor (Tuesday’s & Thursday’s) for those who love the sweat factor as well as the extra blood flow and opening that the heat allows.
Give yourself the gift of time to create the habit. Give yourself the gift of yoga first thing in the morning so you can really find your groove to rise and SHINE throughout your day!!!