Ask most of us who go, what the benefit is of going to an early class and we’ll say “it sets us up for the day”. But what does that mean? There are lists aplenty that detail the benefits of a morning practice; it’s habit-forming, it stimulates the immune system and can improve our sleep patterns, yet this is true of most morning exercise or activity. Plus, knowledge of pros and cons does not always transfer into wise decision making!
So, why do I drag myself out of bed to cycle through varying weather at 06:30, specifically to get to a Yoga class?
It’s 06:45 when I arrive bleary-eyed at the studio and I am at my least physically malleable. I occupy a half-space between sleep and wakefulness. My mind is slow and quiet, compared to my waking day. In this respect, I am at my best for practice. The stiffness in my body from hours of sleep lends itself to more considered movement. Less concerned with achievement, my attention turns inward.
This inverted attention allows me to introduce integrity, rigour and commitment to asana that I may normally fly past, through or into. Low lunges take on new meaning, cat/cow movements are a warming delight and any idea of touching the floor in trikonasana leaves me completely, the concern instead becoming the openness of hips and heart.
Now compare this to an evening practice. I’ve been awake and at work. Like it or not, I bring that all onto the mat with me. Some days I can leave that behind and concentrate, but other days it is impossible to not think of work/the cat/paying bills/what’s for supper, in downward facing dog. Not only that but I’ve at least an hour or two of movement behind me and my ego has been tested throughout the day. I’m more likely to push, to try new things and perhaps, even achieve them. Class ends, I go home and eat, then sleep.
Back to the morning and it’s now 08:15. I emerge from my mat, my morning practice, having fully transitioned to being alive. I’ve done my physical Yoga, opening the door for all the other things Yoga is and can be. I have a sense of achievement. Moreover, I go into my day calm and relaxed. Work stress just becomes work and I’m more open and respectful to people and their lives. I’m more likely to choose a better breakfast, I’m more aware of the physicality of the body and I’m deeply aware of the breath in my chest. I am fully set up!
So why is it that I bother getting up in the small hours to crawl to class? Because I never regret it.
Keyte teaches Vinyasa Yoga on Mondays at 7am.