Updated: Mar 27, 2019
There is no bad time to practice yoga.
An afternoon session can provide the perfect energetic pick-me-up; practicing after work is a wonderful way to release the day's tension; and enjoying a restorative practice before bed is sometimes all you need for a good night's sleep. You can even practice yoga in the middle of the night, beneath the light of the full moon! -- though be warned, your neighbours may denounce you as a witch.
But there's really nothing quite like a morning mat session. Here are our 5 favourite reasons to unroll your mat as soon as you roll out of bed:
1. You'll be more productive.
Regular exercise causes the brain to release chemicals associated with memory, learning and concentration. So do it first thing in the morning to keep your brain sharp and ready for the day ahead! Plus, getting moving in the morning puts the cortisol in your body to good use - your levels are naturally higher in the at this time to help you wake up. Exercising in the A.M. can also help you regulate your sleep cycle, and maintaining a regular sleep/wake schedule is associated with better performance.
2. It will help you wake up on the right side of the bed.
Start the day in a good mood! There is a strong link between exercise and mood, so moving your body is a great way to take care of your mental health. A yoga session after a long, hard, day is a great way to release stress - but a yoga session in the morning helps you head stress off at the pass! When you start the day with an endorphin boost, you will be be better able to handle the challenges of the day and regulate your response to stressors.
3. You'll cultivate discipline and establish a morning ritual.
When we make time for ourselves first thing in the morning (instead of pressing snooze a hundred times, or scrolling through social media as soon as we pry our eyes open), we set ourselves up to experience the whole day differently. Indeed, many of the world's most successful people swear by some kind of morning routine. Much of the magic of such a ritual lies in power of intention. If you do your morning with purpose, you set yourself up to live your day purposefully. And, to borrow from Annie Dillard, "how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."
Even if you can't squeeze in a full yoga class, making time every morning to take some deep breaths, move through some cat-cows and down-dogs, and enjoy silence and stillness will make a massive difference in how you approach the day ahead. This is especially true when you insist on making this time every single day. A morning meditation is a great way to get clear on your intentions, and it need only take a few minutes.
In a world where routine is associated with drudgery, where we are often divorced from the spiritual aspect of daily life, making time for yourself by establishing a morning ritual - even if it's just mindfully preparing and enjoying a cup of coffee - can be wonderful medicine, and a chance to connect with yourself before the day begins to bark its demands. One of the practical benefits of establishing a routine or ritual in the morning is that we are less likely to skip it to accommodate other things that come up, like a birthday party, or 2-for1 Taco Tuesday. Also, it might be your only opportunity to have some quiet alone time, before kids or other dependents come looking for you.
4. You'll make better food choices.
When we set a healthy tone for ourselves in the morning, it carries into the rest of our day. A greasy, processed breakfast might seem much appealing after you've spent some time being present in your body. You may be more likely to choose nourishing foods that will make your body feel good. A recent study demonstrated participants who adhered to an exercise program improved their dietary habits, without any prompting! When we spend more time in the body, we become more receptive to its wisdom. Bonus: you'll give your metabolism a nice boost, if you're into that sort of thing.
5. You'll enjoy a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
Even if you do absolutely nothing else for the rest of the day! Yeah!
What's your favourite time to practice yoga? You can let us know in the comments!