Making yoga a morning habit
step by step: If it is not your habit to get up every morning, work towards making it a habit,
Photo: Tomas Sobek
Counter the excuses in your mind and start your day with an amazing feeling
So you have promised yourself that you will wake up and go for yoga and yet you find yourself hitting the snooze button — once, twice, thrice! All the excuses in your head seem legitimate: it’s too cold; I might hurt myself when I stretch. It’s still dark; a psychopath on the road might attack me. I will skip drinks with my colleagues and practise in the evening, you promise yourself with conviction. When you finally do get up, you have that dark, sick feeling of guilt in your stomach.
No one wants to start a day like that. We want to start the day on the ‘right side of the bed’, feeling fresh, focused and alive, and you know that a yoga class before work will give you that. So why is it so hard to stick to your resolution and get out of bed?
Before you berate yourself too much, remember that you are not alone. It is very hard for humans to break habits, and if it is not your habit to get up every morning, then you must work step by step towards making it a habit. And if I, possibly the laziest, most unlikely morning person you have ever met, can do it, then so can you. Here are a few simple tricks to help you on the way.
As you lie in bed the night before, visualise the next morning in a positive way. Imagine yourself jumping out of bed the moment the alarm rings; imagine the cool, fresh, pollution-less morning air on your face as you head to class. Imagine the feeling when you do your first Surya Namaskar. Most importantly, imagine the wonderful post-yoga feeling of lightness, strength, focus and positive energy. This is the feeling that you must focus on when your alarm goes off and those excuses begin in your head.
Prepare the night before. Choose what you are going to wear (yes, this can be hard, even if it’s just yoga class) and keep these clothes laid out in sight. When you open your eyes you should be able to see them. Keep your yoga mat ready and your water bottle filled. In this way, you are reinforcing your intentions with physical cues. This goes a long way in inspiring you to get out of bed.
Tell the world. Tell your colleagues, the watchman, your neighbour and anyone else who will listen that you are going for a yoga class in the morning. The question, “How was yoga this morning?” will arise. What would you want your response to be? A shame-faced look, a blatant lie or a super proud, “It was awesome!”
Make a date. Ask your fellow yogi to call you in the morning. Of course, don’t choose someone who is struggling in the same way that you are. Chances are that you will land up justifying your morning excuses: “Yes, there is a chill in the air; we might catch the flu and then spread it to the other students. We had better stay home.” The best thing would be to ask your yoga teacher to call you.
The alarm clock trick. Keep your alarm far away from you. This means that you have to get out of bed, even if for a few seconds, just to turn it off. Getting out of bed is always the hardest bit. Of course, the desire to jump into bed again is difficult to fight, but hopefully, the sight of your yoga clothes will stop you.
Change your definition of yourself. I spent most of my life saying, “I am not a morning person.” I would always go for evening yoga class, I would sleep in as much as I could and stay awake late at night. I was convinced that I was at my best and brightest after 12 p.m. Then one day, I met a wonderful teacher who only taught a 6 a.m. class. I decided to try it for a month, just so I could learn and then return to my old routine. I spent six months studying with her; rising before the sun was up, driving to class in the dark and practising while people slowly awoke outside. Today, if I don’t practise yoga in the morning, I feel like I have not brushed my teeth. Remember that there is no definition of YOU. You are whoever you want to be. If you decide that you are a dedicated, morning yogi, then you will be a dedicated, morning yogi.
They say that it takes 21 days to form a lifelong habit. With yoga, it takes less time: the benefits that one feels are so amazing and have such a profound effect on the rest of the day and on the rest of your life that it is hard to say ‘no’ to this habit.
Imagine yourself jumping out of bed the moment the alarm rings; imagine the cool, fresh, pollution-less morning air on your face as you head to class.