Tips for Starting an Early Morning Yoga Routine Without Losing Sleep

An early morning yoga routine can improve your sleep and overall well being. Waking up early for yoga offers an energizing way to start your day, and can help you feel more balanced throughout the day.

The Benefits of Early Morning Yoga

If you have an early morning yoga session to look forward to, you may be more motivated to get out of bed. It can help you wake up, and may help clear out any stiffness you’ve developed overnight.

When you do yoga early in the morning, it’s done and taken care of for the day. You can always do more later, but you don’t have to worry about fitting in a yoga routine later in the day if it’s already done.

Yoga vs. Sleep

It can be tough to wake up early for your yoga routine. If you’re not careful, you might miss out on sleep time to wake up early for yoga. This is a mistake.

Although yoga can be beneficial for sleep, it’s not more important than sleep. You shouldn’t short yourself on sleep time just so you can get up early and do yoga. Yoga won’t make up for missing out on a good night’s sleep.

Early Morning Yoga and Sleep

You can start an early morning yoga routine without losing sleep. You should make sleep a priority and maintain good sleep hygiene. If you plan ahead, you can make time to sleep and practice yoga in the morning.

  • Be consistent. Creating an early morning yoga routine requires consistency, so you should commit to practicing every morning. Once it becomes a regular routine, it will be easier to get up and do it every morning.

  • Make bedtime a priority. Plan ahead of time and remember that you want to do yoga in the morning. If you want to wake up early, you’ll need to go to bed early. Make sleep time a priority in your schedule so that you can get enough sleep at night and still wake up early and ready to enjoy yoga.

  • Establish a bedtime routine. With a good bedtime routine, you can prepare yourself for a healthy night’s sleep. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, keep up with a consistent bedtime routine, and practice healthy sleep hygiene, including creating a comfortable sleep environment.

  • Get ready the night before. Make it easier for you to roll out of bed and start yoga in the morning. Set out your clothes and mat, pack your bag, and get anything else you’ll need together before you go to bed. This will simplify your morning so you can get straight to practicing yoga. It will also help you get in the mindset that you’ll be doing yoga in the morning.

  • Do yoga in bed. Early morning yoga doesn’t have to be a full workout. You can do simple poses in bed before you’re really ready to get up. This is especially helpful if you didn’t get enough sleep. Soft, easy poses can be used when you’re short on sleep so you don’t risk injury.

Back In the Flow

Last year for my birthday, my best friend gave me the book Perfectly Imperfect by Byron Baptiste. It’s not one that I read straight through, but I’ll pick it up here and there when I need inspiration. The other night I read about being in ‘the flow’. We can be in the flow of life just like we can be in the flow of yoga. Things feel graceful and effortless when they are moving along the way we’d like. Body, mind, and energy is harmonious.

But we know the next day, in life or our practice, we can hit a wall or plateau. You have flow in your practice when you hit a wall and don’t react with self-hate or dive into a shame spiral. You trust that you are still moving forward (even if slowly) and things will pick up again. Simply being in the process as it is, is being in flow. Sometimes you hit a wall for long time, other times not. On or off the mat, you stay the course knowing it’s part of the flow. You have flow in your practice when you can accept breaks in tempo or achievement and use the slowdowns as learning opportunities.

I had that opportunity this week with my students. Towards the end of Tuesday’s class, I completely blanked and forgot a piece of the pose sequence on the second side. I honestly almost let it derail my teaching right then, which never happens. But my amazing students chimed in and cued for where we needed to go for the next few poses. They’re the best. I played it off, but I was embarrassed and immediately started that shame spiral of questioning if I was even a good teacher, what am I doing here, you know how that goes… My flow was slowing down.

But throughout the day I came back to what I read earlier this week. Being in the flow doesn’t mean doing everything “perfectly” all the time. It means learning from your challenges and obstacles and moving forward with grace and confidence. So I did just that. I intentionally created a class today that had some complex breath to movement cues and I practiced my instructions out loud. The class was physically challenging and I really had to pay attention to what I was saying as I guided my students through. But I didn’t make any mistakes in my instruction and I felt good about myself as a teacher again.

That’s what yoga is about, taking what we learn on the mat and applying it to everyday life. In this case I was able to practice self-love after hitting an obstacle. I learned from it and my students had a good class. I am back in my flow.

FINDING YOUR YOGA MAT SOUL MATE- IT’S OUT THERE!

If you’re like me, you think of your yoga mat as your best friend. It encourages you through challenges, it’s there to celebrate and share your victories, and it’s that safe space you can come to at any time. It should feel like a little island you want to call home for every practice. Like your practice, your yoga mat should be one that you invest in, one that you keep coming back to, and one that supports you through every inhale and exhale.

The most important features in a good mat includes:

Durability and longevity — A yoga mat’s ability to withstand even the toughest of practices over time.

Comfort and support — Just enough cushioning for your joints can reduce squirming in kneeling postures and provide padding for impact, but not so much that it compromises support.

Stability — A firm, dense mat can help you feel stable throughout standing and balancing poses.

Portability — Consider how much travel you will be doing with your mat. A mat’s weight and size will dictate whether or not it is toteable. Since most people walk, bike, and travel to class, an easy-to-carry mat is an important feature.

Traction and stickiness — It’s important for a mat to provide traction both to keep you from slipping and in staying connected to the ground. The last thing you want is for your mat to function as a Slip N’ Slide.

Texture — Mats have different surfaces, but most yogis agree that it’s best to have a mat that feels most natural.

Environmental consideration — Buying an eco-friendly yoga mat is important to many practitioners. If this holds true to you, consider purchasing a mat made from all-natural materials.

Size — Your yoga mat should cover the length and width of your entire body. Not every yoga mat comes in various widths and sizes, so make sure to check measurements before purchasing.

Reviews.com recently compiled a study on mats that you can see here. Don’t be afraid to test a few mats on your own and ask around before making a purchase—because when a yoga mat feels just right for you, it can make all the difference in your practice, and thus your life. Happy practicing!

1144 Days

I always thought I was just a nice person who drank a lot. Back in high school if I got too drunk it was laughed at because that was part of being young and rebellious. In college if I got too drunk it wasn’t a big deal because I was in a sorority and drinking was part of our social environment. I was always friends with people who liked to drink and party just as much as I did. However, unlike my friends, I never quite got the hang of drinking and since the beginning of my drinking days at 16, I would always get waaay more intoxicated than everyone else. I still remember being at a party and the look on a classmate’s face when I told her I blacked out every single time I drank. We were seniors in high school. I was 17.

A “normal” drinker knows their limits. They can tell when they’ve had too much and they know what it takes to put them over the edge. A “normal” drinker can take alcohol or leave it and they are responsible about it. Taking a Gatorade bottle full of mixed vodka to the library or the gym or to class just because it’s “sneaky” and therefore “cool” is not normal. I missed out on a lot in college because I was too drunk to make it out to the event. Or I would blackout halfway through the event and have no recollection of the evening. Besides a few stories in my mind that particularly stand out, I made it through my drinking days in college relatively unscathed. I graduated with a 3.7 GPA and an internship with Walt Disney World.

The internship lasted less than 3 months, I was fired for being drunk on the job. I moved back to Chicago where I landed an amazing job doing fundraising and recruitment for a non-profit. Over the next couple of years things went great professionally at least. I met my numbers and my volunteers adored me. There were a handful of times though that my boss sent me home for smelling like booze and a couple of times where I blew off meetings or appointments because I was drinking, drunk, or hungover.

So while work was, for the most part, great, in my personal life my level of drinking was becoming serious. I was drinking daily, mostly by myself at home. I had gained a lot of weight and I didn’t really care about social activities like I once had. My sister and mom had a few talks with me over the years about my drinking habits and how they were concerned for me, but the talks didn’t sink in. I didn’t think that my drinking affected them because it was my choice and I wasn’t hurting anyone. I was blind to the disappointment and pain that I was causing people as a result of my actions while drunk. More accurately my actions not taken because I was already blacked out/passed out. I was ruining relationships with boyfriends, my best friends, and family members. All I could think about was drinking and as long as I had that, my life was more interesting and full.

Back tracking a little bit, I had a normal childhood. There were boating vacations to the lake every summer, summer camps, I had a cell phone. Basically what I’m trying to say is that I don’t come from a rough background, my life was not “hard”. But I still felt empty and that’s why I drank. I was bored and discontent with my life and drinking was a way to pass the time and make life seem more exciting. I don’t know how drinking to the point of blackout (almost daily), eating and watching movies that I would pass out during, or having whole conversations on the phone that I wouldn’t remember, makes life seem more interesting, but it did.

Then Friday, December 13, 2013 I hit my bottom. I won’t go into the story here (although I am happy to share it with anyone over a plate of nachos), but that Saturday morning I “came to” and knew that things weren’t right. Whatever had happened the night before could not be fixed with an apology and promise to buy the next handle of vodka. Much to the utter disbelief and disgust of everyone close to me who knew was happened that Friday, I kept drinking for the rest of the weekend. I knew in my heart that when the weekend was over my drinking days were as well.

My last drink of alcohol was December 15th, 2013. That Monday the 16th, at 25 years old, I went to my first AA meeting and have been sober ever since. Fast forward to today (937 days sober), I am a sober alcoholic and ecstatic with the life I live. I recognize my Higher Power as The Universe and I give thanks every day to my HP that I’m an alcoholic and for blessing me with this life and everything yet to come. Getting sober was scary at first. In social situations I didn’t know how to act, what would I say? Who would I talk to? Who am I now as a person without the liquid courage of a cocktail (or 9)? But through prayer and meditation it gets easier and then one day you realize it’s not an issue anymore and you are living a life better than you could have imagined.

Burning Man 2014 was an eye opening experience. It was my 4th burn and at the time I was 8 months sober. It had the potential to be overwhelming, but I brought my 24 hour chip with me, kept my journal with me at all times (journaling is a huge part of my sobriety toolbox), and I made it a point to find all of the sober camps in case I felt overwhelmed.  At first I was outside my comfort zone A LOT, but just like how I’m comfortable in my own skin in life now, it was the same way at Burning Man. That was one of my most notable burns because I remembered more of it and everything that I did was based on me making the conscience decision, not the booze-induced judgement. The experiences meant more because I could soak it all in.

If you work the 12 Steps (and really work them), you will find that you don’t move on to the next phase of your recovery until you’re totally ready. With your sponsor, you work on building a working relationship with your Higher Power (whether it be God or like me, The Universe), learn how to live at peace with yourself, then figure out how to live a meaningful life with others and continue a program of recovery every day, for the rest of your life. There are these statements in AA called ‘The Promises’ which basically outline how your life is going to get better. They include knowing a new freedom and happiness, feelings of uselessness and self-pity will disappear, and fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us. And the promises do come true, they materialize if you work for them.

As far as my yoga practice and how that is connected, my yoga journey began at the same time I got sober because I used my practice as a way to connect with my Higher Power. The connection I felt to my HP through my moving meditation helped release me from the turmoil going on inside my brain as I came to terms with my alcoholism. As I progressed in my initial recovery, I progressed in my practice as well. The week that I started AA was when I decided to take my first class. As I celebrated 90 days, I achieved Crow pose. As I reached 5 months, I accomplished my head stand. December 2015 I celebrated 2 years sober. I also started my 200-hour yoga teacher training so that I could get my certification and use yoga to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.  To this day, I sit and meditate and move and mediate through my yoga practice every day. For me the two go hand in hand because in both sitting mediation and practicing yoga as a moving mediation, my mind is clear.
As I write this I am 1144 days sober. Together, sobriety and yoga saved my life. Life is a beautiful journey and I’m blessed to be able to experience it the way I do.

Today, I am One with my Higher Power, and I am at peace with myself.

Cheers to the good life.

Morgan

https://bendyoga.org/

IG- keep_bending

Special Projects

A couple years ago I was getting coffee with a friend and he asked me what projects I was working on. Outside of work, what was I doing with my time? At the time I didn’t have a good answer and it got me thinking: from now on I will always have a project. It didn’t always need to be something huge, maybe it was starting (and finishing) a new book or trying a new recipe (that’s a big one considering I cook a “real” meal maybe 4 times a year.) What I didn’t realize at the time was that by not having a project, it meant I didn’t have a vision. I didn’t have an idea or clear picture what I wanted to do with my energy, and that’s not acceptable. Having a vision is important because it gives your existence a purpose. We are only on this planet for such a short time, we should use it wisely.

So consider this, what is your project? What is your vision? Make it BIG. Make it HUGE. The bigger the better. It’s supposed to be so big that it’s almost unbelievable. And what will it take for you to get there right now? In the beginning when you’re setting out on a new journey towards a new, amazing goal, it’s easy to get frustrated with the preliminary steps. You’re so excited and eager and anxious to reach the end point, the brilliant dream that inspired you, that the preliminary steps just seem like they’re taking up too much time. This is natural. If the dream wasn’t so stunning, it wouldn’t be worth dreaming.

So what’s my vision right now? Oh my gosh I have so many. I’ll keep it yoga-pose related. I am working on Adho Mukha Vrksasana, aka Handstand. I have been working on it for over a year now and while some days it doesn’t feel like I am making any progress, I know I am. I practice my handstand every single day for at least 10 minutes, and even if I don’t hold it for very long that day, or some days I don’t even get legs in the air at all, I know that I am at least stronger now than I was before I tried.

As you keep grinding along on your project, know the “small victories” that that are the baby steps of accomplishing your goal (practicing kicking up, reading a few pages of your book, running a mile, etc.)  are actually huge victories in the overall big picture (handstand, finishing that book you’ve been putting off forever, running a 5k or marathon, etc.). For every mortal step you take here, a huge leap, cartwheel, dance party has taken place in time and space, advancing you forward more than you’ll ever know. And the best way to finish this project? Get started on it. No more procrastinating, no more excuses or if/thens (if Sarah calls me to go to kickboxing with her, then I’ll go), that’s lame. Get up, get out, and just START DOING IT. Wherever you are, any progress is good. You’ll finish your project, achieve your goal, just in time to start your next one

Keep Bending,

Morgan

@keep_bending