Just recently, I started showing back up on my own yoga mat for a regular, daily practice. All I needed to jumpstart my practice again were two things – the fact that I only had two months to train for my upcoming PCT thru-hike and a studio wide 28-day challenge for the month of February. At first, I was motivated by the daily gold star I’d get on the board for the challenge after each class. The more classes I took though, the more I could feel my body start to transform, which motivated me even more than the gold stars to keep coming back. I stood a little taller. I slept at night a lot better. The aches and pains in my lower back, knees and ankles became less. My balance and flexibility started improving tremendously. All of these changes in my body reminded me of why I began practicing Bikram Yoga in the first place, many years ago.
I love doing my yoga first thing in the morning. There’s less traffic on the road. I’m done before most people eat breakfast. I’m left with a big pep in my step for the rest of the day. Early morning yoga is also good training for my body and mind for thru-hiking the PCT because being up that early enables me to watch more sunrises on trail instead of sleeping through them.
Even though I’ve always been a fan of the 6am classes, getting out of bed early doesn’t come easy for me. I’m not a natural morning person. For me, practicing first thing in the morning takes regular discipline and requires a considerable amount of preparation. My challenge isn’t with practicing yoga. It’s with getting myself to the studio to practice. If you find yourself struggling to get to the studio like I do, here are 6 tips to help get your butt out of bed and into an early morning yoga class.
1 – Pack Your Bag the Night Before
It all starts with preparation. Fill your water bottle the night before. Pack toiletries, a shower towel, yoga clothes and a change of clothes for work before getting into bed. Picking out your work clothes and the clothes you’ll wear to class the night before means you won’t have to waste time in the morning trying to figure out what to wear. Having your bag ready, packed and waiting by the door also eliminates talking yourself out of going to class in the morning.
2 – Go to Bed Early
Gift yourself at least eight hours of sleep the night before class. Trust me, the earlier you go to bed, the easier it will be to get up early the next morning.
3 – Don’t Hit the Snooze Button
Just don’t do it. As soon as the alarm goes off, pull off the covers, get out of bed, turn the lights on and brush your teeth. For me, getting out of my warm bed is the hardest part about any dark and early morning, but once I’m up, I’m up.
4 – Eat Something Small and Easy
Energy bars are a good morning go-to as well as toast or anything you have prepared ahead of time that you can easily grab and eat in the car on your way to class. Just keep it easy and light. You don’t want to eat anything to big, filling or greasy before taking a yoga class.
5 – Give Yourself Plenty of Time
I like to get to the studio at least 15 to 20 minutes before class starts. This gives me plenty of time to deal with traffic (if there’s any), park my car, chat with the teacher at the front desk, set up my mat in the room in my favorite spot, get settled into the space and adapt to the heat before starting class.
6 – Set Up an Accountability System
I’m a goal-oriented person and I love gold stars. If you do too, setting up an accountability system can help you maintain a regular practice. The system doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the easier it is, the more likely you will be to follow through with it. Your accountability system can be a yogi partner, whether it’s a friend, co-worker or a family member. Your accountability system can even be a public challenge, like the 28-day challenge I signed up for at my home studio in February.
Getting out of my warm bed when it’s dark and cold outside can be the hardest part of an early morning yoga class. Know that there will be hard days. On the hard days, remind yourself its part of the process and go to class anyways. I’ve never gone to a yoga class and by the end of class wished I hadn’t gone. I always leave class feeling like a better version of myself, both mentally and physically. Remember, it’s usually the classes you don’t want to go to that are the ones you need the most.