How To Get Up In The A.M. Yogi-Style

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Mornings can be rough. Although I’ve never been a very late riser, I still enjoy taking my sweet time in the morning.

Making it to Mysore on time can be a bit of a challenge some days. To be fully honest, I’m not sure I would have stuck with Ashtanga Yoga this long if I didn’t have a partner in crime coming in to check on me after I’ve hit the snooze button (my husband is much more disciplined than I, waking up at least half an hour earlier so he has time to chant his rounds. Goody yoga two shoes!).

When my alarm crickets and chirps at what feels like the crack of dawn I feel more like this….

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Than this…

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But, all that said, there’s something fantastic about getting up and starting the day with a full yoga practice. Morning practice sets the tone for the entire day. Even though it can sometimes be the hardest part of my day, I still think that’s kind of great. I mean, the roughest patch happens before breakfast, so then I’m clear to go about my life, smooth sailing. Sweet.

Getting up for practice is worth it – always. Starting your day in a conscious and breath-centered way is amazing preventative medicine for so much of what can ail us throughout the rest of the day.

Over the years, I’ve developed some tricks and routines that help me get started in the morning feeling my best.

—♦—

Here are my tips for getting up and going, yogi style:

1. Don’t jolt your dome by jumping right out of bed when the alarm goes off.

Take a few moments to breathe and gently open the eyes. Take a little stretch. When you are ready to get up, roll over, sit up slowly, press your feet into the ground and take a breath or two sitting up before rising to stand. Give your brain a chance to adjust to being upright after many horizontal hours. This sounds wonky, but seriously, don’t jolt your cranial fluid. It ain’t good for you.

2. Smile and think some good thoughts.

Spend a moment before opening your eyes with a positive thought. Out of habit, I employ one of the common Kundalini Yoga affirmations, “I am bountiful, I am blissful, I am beautiful. I am healthy, I am happy, I am holy.” I say these words in my head with a smile on my face. Somedays I even say, “Today is going to be a very very good day.” Honestly, it makes me feel better about getting up when I have already decided that it’s going to be worth it. You are your thoughts – start off on the right foot!

3. Scrape, brush, scrub and get your chill on.

My bathroom routine is essential for my getting out the door feeling ready for practice. I scrape my tongue, splash my face with cold water, brush my teeth and then do a quick full body brush with my dry brush. This is very energizing and great for the skin. Then I take a freezing cold shower (even in winter, crazy, I know) starting with my feet and then moving upwards, making sure I get the back of my neck and armpits (no hair, just face). Cold showers get your juices flowing! The cold water dilates the blood vessels and helps flush the blood through your body. I love my cold showers and take them everyday unless I am on my moon or am feeling under the weather.

4. Be prepared for what’s coming – don’t make your brain have to work too hard too soon.

Set out your yoga clothes the night before or at least have them picked out and easily accessible. Have your keys handy. Remember your sunglasses for the post-practice glare. Don’t make life too complicated before your first surya namaskar.

5. Yoga first. Everything else come later.

Do not, I repeat, do not check your email, get on facebook/twitter/instagram or anything like that before practice if at all possible. I do not open my computer or even turn on my phone until I get home from practice. I know this isn’t feasible for all people, but since I don’t normally have pressing family or business concerns to attend to first thing, I find it helps me keep my mind more clear for practice if I stay unplugged until breakfast. I also don’t engage in the pre-practice ritual for many Ashtangis of coffee or tea. I am not a coffee drinker, and tea on a empty stomach is rough on me. I will have a sip or two of water some mornings, but mostly I try to be as empty as possible so that my practice is not interrupted with pee breaks.

And that is what works for me. This might not be the magic charm for all people, but I’ve found that with this routine, I can be up and out the door in 20 minutes, ready for a good long sesh on the yoga mat.

Are you a morning person or not? What helps you get going when the sun comes up?

Love and Blessings,

♥ Frances ♥

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18 thoughts on “How To Get Up In The A.M. Yogi-Style

  1. hi, I’m a newer follower and have really been enjoying your blog. I wanted to respond and say that pre-yoga I used to sleep in or at least could sleep in, having a pretty flexible job. When I practiced Ashtanga in a yoga studio I would get up and be there by 7. (big wow! not every morning though!) I took a break from ashtanga (Sometimes I wonder if it’s a bit too rigid for me… same thing every time… I don’t know.), I did a 10K for charity, and then I got pregnant and did prenatal yoga. My daughter is now 15 months, and I’m up every morning by 6.30 to come to my living room for my solitary moments of yoga. It’s my time to be with myself and I think that’s the big motivator. I don’t even need an alarm for it! I use videos on youtube, alter as I need to… stick to a more vinyasa flow type practice. I hope to return to a yoga studio in september when my daughter is a little more independent and can stay longer without my. i love it… makes me feel so good in the morning! sometimes i need to take a break mid-practice when she wakes up and wants to be breastfed. the time i spend on my own is valuable, but as she plays all around me and climbs all over me during what should be savasana, i wouldn’t have it any other way. I can meditate another time when my husband’s home or when she naps.

    as for your list, I might try doing the body brushing and teeth brushing first thing when I get up to feel a little cleaner, the cold shower I might try since it’s summer, but I totally agree with you on yoga first. I open my computer for the youtube yoga of the moment, keep my mobile phone off, avoid opening my email at all costs, and just have my glass of water for a few sips to keep my throat from getting dry. Post-yoga I drink some plain water to rehydrate and then lemon water to help my digestive system and raise the alkalinity (new thing I’ve learned recently). I haven’t started chanting yet… maybe in the future!

    Roanna

    • Hi Roanna.
      Thanks so much for reading Lila and for contributing to the conversation.
      I think that is so wonderful that you are making time for yourself to practice in the morning before your baby wakes up. And savasana with a playing baby sounds great in my book (then again, I’ve never been one for a real savasana). 🙂
      I know my practice will change when I have a baby, but I hope I never stop completely – I think it’s just too important for my health and happiness, and consequently that of my family.
      I understand your concerns about the rigidity of Ashtanga. When I began practicing in that style I was worried about getting bored by the repetition. Turns out, it was exactly the kind of structure I personally needed in my very unstructured life. Over the past few years I’ve also learned to view my Ashtanga practice with more openness and acceptance. I don’t always do a full long practice in order to consider it “legit” Ashtanga. I like to view the sequences as a framework for practice.
      Our Mysore environment is fairly laid back here in Denver. There’s not a huge push or lots of pressure from our teachers, so I feel like I have the freedom to modify my practice depending on the way my body feels that day. Somedays I do all of Primary or all my Second Series poses. Some days I modify poses if I’m working through an injury or illness. Somedays when I feel wiped out or too sore, I simply do a few Sun Salutations, a few standing poses, a few seated poses and then legs up the wall for a long rest plus a little extra time just sitting and breathing. That might not necessarily look like “Ashtanga” but it feels just right. All that is to say, it doesn’t have to rigid as long as you are breathing 🙂
      Definitely give the dry brushing a go. It feels so good. It opens up the energy lines in the body, is very detoxifying for the skin, stimulating to the lymphatic system and great for improving the texture and tone of your skin as well.
      I’m on the same track with you re water in the am.
      Take care.
      blessings!
      F

      • Hi! When you find a new blog (I actually found yours while looking for kitchari recipes) you end up going through some of the old posts. I saw that you’ve had at times panic attacks and some issues with food. I’ve got some experience with those. Panic attacks are awful, but fortunately you learn that you are far from alone in having them. I also do EFT, or rather, I’ve tried it and should really start up again, because I found it a great emotional release when I’ve used it in the past.

        As for Ashtanga, I never really thought I could only do what I felt like when I went to the studio. I felt like I was required to do what I had already learned from the first series every time. I like your view of more flexibility for the days when you want to do it, but aren’t feeling 100% or need that extra time in legs up the wall to just let things go. Sometimes when the teacher would push me to my limit it frightened me and I may have pulled away for that reason too… In all honesty, after having my daughter I’m more fearless now than before. I don’t do headstands or handstands yet, but I feel like those things aren’t as unreachable as before.

        I usually do dry brushing right before showers, but didn’t try it before yoga until today… It definitely made me feel more awake and alive and tuned into my body. That said, I still had problems balancing on my left foot (always the left one!). but today in my frustration, I took a step back, paused the video I was following and gave it a second go at my own pace.

        I look forward to reading your future posts!
        Blessings!
        Roanna

      • Hi Roanna.
        Glad you are perusing through old posts. Yep, anxiety and eating stuff – it’s the worst. I’m much better now, but it’s taken a lot time to get this far. Turns out a lot of my anxiety was related to my substance use (drugs, yes, but also just coffee and alcohol were big triggers). Now that my lifestyle and diet are cleaner, I experience way less panic attacks etc.
        EFT is pretty awesome. When I first learned it, I was hooked. I haven’t been doing that much of it recently, but whenever I remember to try it, I feel the benefits immediately.
        Thanks for reading Lila.
        Blessings!
        F

    • No way. You should still write it! 🙂
      Yea, I know, crazy Kundalini peeps…but I’ve been doing it for years now and when I don’t take a cold shower, I feel icky. I think the rush of them is kind of addictive…but it took me over a year to get used to it, so I know it’s not an easy daily activity for most folks.
      xo
      F

  2. You know I read this as I was waiting for fuel to brew at 6AM? #5!!
    I agree with you about morning tech bans. It starts the ticker tape of thoughts. I also wish I could save myself the 20 minute drive, but I need babysitting most days. Happy Solstice to you and your beloved. Btw, I don’t know if either one of you has listened to Matthew Remski’s podcast at Michael Stone’s Center of Gravity in Toronto. I would love to hear what you two have to say about it.

    • haha…yea, well, that happens.
      the drive to yoga can be a pain. when we lived in charlottesville, our house was a 5 minute walk away from the shala – that was awesome.
      happy solstice to you too dear maria.
      re matthew remski, in all honesty, i can’t make it through a paragraph of his writing so i’m not sure we will have much to say on that front. 🙂 he just rubs me the wrong way…but i will try to give the podcast a chance since you recommend it.
      xo

      • It is not so much that I recommend Frances, I just do not have enough context yet because I have only read the Sutras once, and can only remember the first 4 (badly). I own 3 different translations/commentaries and find them all archaic and like all ancient scripture hard to relate to. I know you and Thad have more theory under your belts so that’s why I asked.

      • ah yes, i see. well, matthew did send us a copy of his sutra interpretation awhile back. it’s definitely a loose “modernized” look at the sutra. e.g – sauca, cleanliness or purity, is translated as “ecology” and other such liberal readings of it.
        anyways, i’ll check out the podcast and get back to ya.

  3. I am a morning person in the summer and should use the time for barre, pilates, yoga, or a nice solitary walk. We live in the Black Hills and dawn is so beautiful here. Usually I make my tea or coffee and cozy back up with my book! During the winter, I do have to use a sun lamp. I have to put it on the minute my alarm goes off to help me not only wake up but get some vitamin d in or I am, in no way, able to function properly.

    • Hi Sara.
      Dawn walks in the Black Hills sound lovely. I hope that I will become more of a morning person as I grow up..haha…
      I hear you on the sun lamp. I get totally down and gloomy in the wintertime if I don’t get enough sun. Luckily, CO is a great place to live for a sunny but still wintry winter.
      Thanks for reading Lila and commenting!
      Have a great weekend.
      F

      • We honestly get decent sun here too during the winter- I think we’re only 6 ish hours from Denver, where we live. I should TOTALLY go for a walk or go do some gentle yoga while the coffee brews! SHOULD. Every day, after I get up. Nope. I get my warm drink and get cozy with the book again. Oh the sun lamp. I practically won’t leave the house, neigh the bedroom, without a dosage of sun every day in the winter. Strangely enough, it was my yoga teacher back in Vermillion (where N & I finished our masters’ degrees) that suggested it. Do you find your cold showers help with headaches? I get them fairly frequently and am a scaredy cat about the idea of worsening them with a cold shower!

      • Hi Sara
        I get really bad headaches from heat and cold showers are the only thing that help them honestly. In the summer time, I can be chugging water and electrolytes and still get a bad headache, but a few minutes in cold water make them go away. In the winter, I take a very short cold shower in the am and then warm shower after yoga and sometimes a bath at night.
        Also, a study recently came out that cold showers help rejuvenate sore muscles from exercise more than warm showers…kind of interesting as most people would expect the other way around, right?
        🙂

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