The accidental yogi
Not a morning yogi
I’ve often been told the optimal time to do a yoga class is first thing in the morning. ‘They’ – and by they I mean my teacher, numerous yoga books and the good old internet – say you should wake up, go to the loo, get yourself ready for class and start your day with a one and half hour yoga session, whatever your choice of practice style may be.
Why? Well of course, it’s about starting your day on a positive note, giving love to your body, mind and spirit before anything else. Waking them up with gentle movements and stimulating your digestive system before you’ve consumed anything. It’s about being able to practice before your brain (and inbox) is bombarded with work, friends, social life, stress, or whatever types of things you may be distracted by. It’s about being in tune with the natural rhythm of the sun (hello – salute to the sun anyone?). It’s about setting your intentions at the start of the day. It also (for procrastinators like me) gets your practice over and done with for the day. And the stillness of early morning is also said to be much more conducive to concentration and meditation.
OK, so now that’s clear – what has it got to do with me?
Well, one of the things you may not know about me (yet) is that I’m not a morning person. Never have been. It’s something I have learned and accepted about myself over time, something I have adapted my daily routines and lifestyle around. I mean, it’s not like I get up at midday or anything. It’s just that I like to wake up slowly. I start out feeling fuzzy then I feel my brain open up slowly as I have breakfast, potter around the house and get ready. I know if I need to write something or have a meeting, it should never be before 11am. OK, truthfully – I’m much more comfortable with meetings at midday.
And (yes, I’m eventually getting to the point!) what does this have to do with my yoga practice?
Finally, after about two years of practicing off and on, I can feel myself developing an attachment to my yoga practice (which yes, I understand defeats the purpose of practicing non-attachment, but hopefully we’ll get there one day!). I have a desire to learn more – not just to improve my asanas, but also to understand the philosophies of the practice. And this little piece of advice – ‘you should practice yoga in the mornings’ – just keeps on cropping up in my life. Thanks to said teacher, books and internet!
It felt like the universe was sending me a message. I should probably give the morning classes at Hot Yoga Ibiza a try. While I enjoy ending my day with a class, sometimes I do feel like getting home at 11pm is a bit late to eat dinner, even for a night owl like me. So with a little trepidation, I decided to go to practice yoga every morning for at least one week, just to see if it did make a difference to my day… or even life!
I should point out here that morning classes at our studio are not at any un-Godly hour like 6am. They are the very respectable 9.45am, perfect for the late risers, post-school run parents and shift workers of Ibiza. But normally at 9.45am, I’ve just pressed the snooze button for the third time and have a cat pawing at my face for food. So I figure, the cat will be happy as it gets to eat earlier, I can still start my workday at around the same time as usual and it leaves my nights free to do whatever I want.
On the first day, I was enthusiastic. I’d gotten an early night, my bags were packed and I zipped up to the studio, bright (ish) as a button. The most noticeable difference I felt was intense hunger, which led to distraction – I was starving throughout class. My body is so accustomed to being fed its usual pieces of toast and cup of tea upon waking, that it was confused. So I was a little distracted in class, worried my tummy would rumble too loudly and wondering how early the restaurant opposite the studio started serving lunch!
After class, another difference I noted was that it took a bit longer to get myself ready for the day ahead. Normally at night, I wash my hair, pop it into a messy bun, throw on some track pants, a hoodie and my ugg boots and head straight home, but with a work day ahead of me, I had to think about blow-drying my hair, putting make-up on and presenting myself properly – as were all the other girls in the change room, which meant waiting my turn for mirror and hairdryer time. Not a bad thing, I just needed to factor some more time into my routine.
Once I’d left the studio, fed myself and gotten on with the day, I was buzzing. These morning classes are amazing, I thought to myself. Then at about 3pm, I started to feel what I like to call my ‘yoga coma’ coming on. Uh oh – although the Spanish lifestyle does encourage a siesta, I couldn’t really happily sink into my bed or sofa the way I do after a night class – I had work to do. Just a 15-minute power nap, I thought to myself. Two hours later, I woke up in a panic, which resulted in having to work later that night.
The next morning was pouring with rain, and it took every bit of motivation I had to brave the downpour to get to my car. I got to the studio and all of the parking in the street and free car park was full and so I headed down into the underground car park, thinking how great it is that there is so much parking available in the area. To cut a long story kind of short – I went to class, had a lovely practice, was still ravenously hungry, made myself presentable and then when I went to leave and pay for my parking, it turned out I had forgotten my wallet. The machine didn’t take cards, it was pouring rain, there is no cash machine nearby and I felt stranded – thankfully for me, my wonderful teacher was still in the studio and was able to rescue me!
But that experience did put me on the wrong foot to keep going with the day. I’m SO not a morning person, I huffed and puffed to myself, this would never have happened at night. At night I am organised, I have all my things with me, I’m not in a rush to be anywhere. And so the week continued – with each day presenting a new ‘morning’ problem to me – from leaving my phone at home (that I needed for work all day) to leaving my leggings at home and having to leave the studio bare-legged for a meeting (in the rain, in winter!) which resulted in a last minute dash to the nearby sports store to cover myself up!
I came to realise that all of these things were problems that I was able to find a solution to. They were situations I could laugh at, and that really didn’t hurt anyone. They were all totally my fault, and nothing to do with my practice. They were things I could learn from.
Over the course of the week, the sleepiness in the middle of the day turned to being energised, as I began to learn that what my body was actually craving good food to replenish the energy it had burned during class. Spending time to nourish myself with a healthy breakfast after class, rather than grabbing a less-than-healthy ham and cheese sandwich on the go, meant I saved much more time later by not sleeping in the afternoons.
What I really, really grew to like was that the procrastination that was normally part of my everyday routine (‘Oh, I missed the 6.30 class. I’ll just go to the 8.30. Oh, now it’s 8.15 and I’ll never get there in time.’) had totally gone. It was just get up and go. I would be dressed and in the car before my brain had a chance to interject and suggest we just snuggle up with kitty and go to the 6.30pm class later. And I also discovered, to my surprise, that I really enjoyed the Ashtanga and CORE 40 classes, which are only taught in the mornings.
I started to wonder if I could teach myself to be a morning person. Since I know I am clearly very forgetful in the AM, then why not pack my bags, prepare a healthy breakfast and organise everything before I go to bed? Prioritising the mornings all for me – for my mind, my body, my soul and indeed, even my belly – suddenly felt like a gift to myself. I was starting out my days with a treat, rather than with dread.
It was a revelation!
I’m not going to lie – I still don’t find it easy to jump out of bed every day and get myself to class. Some days the brain does wake up a little early and convince me to take ‘five more minutes’ under the covers that ultimately results in me missing my practice. I still manage to forget my wallet/knickers/shampoo/make-up on occasion. But I no longer carry that negative mindset of ‘I’m not a morning person’. It turns out, I just wasn’t doing mornings in a way that suited me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s getting late and I need to go pack my bags for class tomorrow morning!