Yoga for Morning People

It’s called mysore for a reason: it’s all about my sore calves, my sore hamstrings, my sore  hips, etc. Even my sore armpits (who knew that could happen?).

The background: I’m fresh from six days of early starts and a couple of hours of Mysore-style Ashtanga with Luke Jordan and Sonja Radvila before breakfast. I say fresh, but it’s more like a mixture of feeling totally amazing and totally exhausted all at once. And really hungry. But anyway, all this early morning stuff got me thinking that actually getting out of bed and into class not as tough as one side of my head makes it out to be. Here’s three tips for making early morning yoga actually happen:

1. Start at 4am.

Only joking – that’s for later, when you actually go to Mysore. Lazy westerners who think ‘circadian rhythms’ is no more than a cool name for a band can lie in till 6am. 6.30 max. Roll out of bed or, if you’re as keen on yoga as I am, sleep on your mat and it’ll be right there for when you wake up.

Get used to it.
Get used to it.

2. Get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off.

OK so my girlfriend and my lifesize seal soft toy might not be too happy if I spent any more time on the mat than I do already, so I confess to sleeping in an actual bed. Sad, but I’ll never be a sadhu.

Being in bed is a problem, though, because you have roughly two moments to get the legs the hell away from the warm duvet before the brain realizes what’s going on. By the third, your head will have dispatched a SWAT team of good reasons as to why you shouldn’t move another inch.

This image is frequently  used by both sides in the duvet versus drop back dilemma. Try not to think about it.
This image is frequently used by both sides in the duvet versus drop back dilemma. Try not to think about it.

Negotiations then go a bit like this: ‘Hey, but it’s warm in here and oh my how good does it feel to just close your eyes for a moment and lie still – well yeah obv but I want to go to yoga – yeah but you don’t even like yoga anyways and have you actually felt how soft and warm the duvet is? I should be getting up to go to, um, hhnnh, huh, what? Then it’s 8.30 and you’ve missed class and you’re late for work. Wake up and get up simultaneously, however, and you’re 80% sure to get to class. Have a set routine with as few steps as possible to get you out the door. Don’t leave before tip 3, though:

3. Sneak-eat a banana.

Yeah I know I know it’s not strictly Ayurvedic, and you’re not meant to eat before yoga, but it’s going to be three hours until you can shovel half a kilo of porridge and five egg OMelette in. Get the belly onside and mindfully inhale a banana while staring vacantly out of the kitchen window. Then grab your stuff and head to class.

Pascimottanasan assist
Who wouldn’t want to be folded in half at 7.32am?

Follow these rules and six days out of seven you’ll make it to early morning yoga. Strange thing is, you never regret going to class when you emerge at half eight having already stood on your head, wrapped your spine around your hamstrings, and breathed enough to fill balloons for three birthday parties. And you might just feel as happy and exhausted as you would after three birthday parties, too.

And if Mysore-style classes ain’t your thing, I teach a Thursday morning class over at Forward Fitness Glasgow, 7.10-8.10 a.m. It’s modified ashtanga, with a soundtrack to set you up for the day. Try it out!

(Thanks to Cathy Moran for the photos and the space, and to Luke and Sonja for an awesome/soresome  week of mysore.)

Copyright © 2013 Galen O’Hanlon.

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