It’s that time of year again. The onesie comes out of storage. The blankets get added to the bed. We start eating our own bodyweight in carbohydrates. Nights draw in, days get shorter and the urge to hibernate is almost irresistible.
If dragging yourself out of bed for an early morning yoga practice was going to feel impossible at any time – it’s now. I’m sure there are people who feel nothing but joy as they fling the duvet off, feel the cold air rush in around their previously toasty-warm nether regions, and skip their way to their mat. They are obviously weirdos.
The normal ones amongst us press ‘snooze’ approximately 17 times before telling ourselves that we’ll practice later/we can’t get up now because the cat looks so comfortable/it won’t do us any harm to have a day off/ we might have a headache coming on if we really think hard about it/we just physically can’t get out of bed.
As a fully paid-up member of Bed Addicts Anonymous, I’ve been there and I’ve used all those excuses (and sometimes still do). But getting up and getting onto your mat really is one of the best ways to start the day for your body AND your mind. Plus you get to wear a smug grin all day, and that should never be underestimated as a benefit.
Try some of these ideas to help you get from slumbering to sun salutations as painlessly as possible…
Start before you sleep.
Commit to your morning practice before you go to bed. If you’re still getting used to early mornings, do yourself a favour and don’t plan to practice after a crazy night out! Obvious but true, getting up is going to be a whole lot harder if you’ve not had enough sleep and are still full from a massive dinner or feeling hungover. So get an early night and eat a light dinner allowing plenty of time for digestion before hitting the hay. Make sure you go to bed hydrated – a tasty mug of herbal tea will help. And yes, it might make you get up for a wee in the night but I’d rather have to do that than feel all dry and parched when I wake up.
Lay it out.
Before you go to bed the night before, set out everything you’re going to need. And I mean everything. If you’re going to need a hot drink before you start, fill the kettle ready to boil and put the tea bag in the cup. Lay your clothes out so you’re not frantically trying to find clean pants or a warm jumper. Roll out your mat and prepare your practice area. (Mine is right next to my bed so it’s waiting for me when I wake up; it’s strangely motivating – seeing it when I pry my eyes open makes me feel like it will be sad if I don’t get up and spend time with it. No. That’s not odd.) Set out any props you’ll need, blankets, cushions, a bottle of water if you need something to sip whilst you practice.
Don’t be alarmed.
If I have to get straight up the first time my alarm goes off I feel physically sick. No, really. I need it to go off three times before I’m ready to get vertical. But others just need one little chirp from their phone and they can be up and at ‘em straight away. Know what works for you, but set some rules. If you were going to class you’d make sure you were there in good time for it to start, so approach your own practice with the same respect and diligence. Decide what time you want to be on your mat and stick to it.
Ditch the duvet. NOW!
Once you’re awake, it can still feel like actually getting up and out of bed is the equivalent of crossing the Grand Canyon on a pogo stick. You know where you’ve got to go – you might even be able to see it. But you’re warm. And cozy. And you could just….NO! The only way to do this is like ripping off a sticking plaster. Don’t even take a moment to ask yourself if you want to get up and practice because (unless you’re one of those aforementioned weirdos) the answer is always going to be ‘no’. I have a rule which I have set for myself – once I have counted from one to three I have to get out of bed. Immediately. (Yes, I know it sounds like something you’d do with a small child, but that’s an indication of what it takes to cajole my mind and body into working together.)
Stick to the plan.
Your plan needs to be sticky, just like your mat. We’ve talked about setting yourself up with all the things you need so that they’re ready when you wake, but be aware of the things you don’t need too. I keep my phone on flight mode until I’ve finished practicing so I can’t see if any emails have arrived, and taking a “quick” look at Facebook can’t be an autopilot reaction. Do yourself a favour and don’t put potential distractions in your own way.
Quality not quantity.
You’ll be only too aware that the mind can be a tricky little thing, which can flit between being our best friend and our worst enemy quicker than you can say “I love my pyjamas”. If you’re telling yourself that not only do you have to get up way earlier than you want to, but you’ve also got to do a 90 minute challenging, twisting, folding, back-bending, prana-stoking practice, staying in bed is going to feel like the much better option. So whilst you’re getting used to practicing at this time of the day, commit to something that you know you’ll manage – maybe 5 sun salutations, 3 standing postures, 3 seated postures, and some finishing poses. Worst case scenario is you finish feeling great and thinking “ooh I could do a bit more next time”.
Don’t expect exceptional.
These straight-out-of-bed practices are highly unlikely to be the most graceful, delicious, bendy and beautiful times you spend on your mat. Your body will be cold and stiff. Your mind will be telling you all sorts of untruths about how tired you are, how this is never going to go well, and that you should give in right now. But as soon as you accept that place where you’re starting from, all will be well. You learn to come to your mat with the body you’ve got in that moment, and to work with no expectations. As long as you maintain a feeling of curiosity then you’ll never leave your mat disappointed – just a little bit enlightened!
Remember why it’s worth it.
We all know why it’s so good for us to get our asana’s up and onto a mat at the start of the day, but it’s very easy to forget when we feel like our duvet has taken us hostage. As you stumble to the mat remember that you’re not alone. Allow the fact that there are literally millions of other yogis across the world who are doing the very same thing give you a feeling of support. Folks have been doing it for generations before us, and will continue to do so after us. Each and every one of us is getting out of bed and onto a sticky mat to become the happiest and healthiest versions of ourselves – for our own benefit and that of the whole world. Hitting the snooze button will never feel as good as that.