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“I just don’t have enough time.” This is an excuse we use for pretty much everything. But the benefits of a regular yoga practice are so immense that it’s really worthwhile to make the time. How? An at-home morning practice.
This can be as short as one quick pose or as long as a two-hour routine (Note: if you have two hours, I’m really jealous). My years as a yoga teacher and yoga student have taught me that even just five minutes of yoga in the morning can transform your entire day. You have five minutes in the morning, right? The morning is potent with possibility—we are a blank slate ready to absorb whatever we put in front of ourselves. If you choose yoga when you wake up, you center yourself for the rest of the day.
Now even if you crave yoga and have a strong practice, it can be hard to pull yourself out of a warm bed. Once I manage to stumble out of bed, there are still many temptations other than yoga. I usually want to beeline to sugary hot cocoa or check my email as soon as I’m conscious. Even though I know yoga is the right choice, it’s always a battle to make it happen first thing.
Here are my five proven hacks to make sure your yoga practice wins the morning-time-crunch war:
1. Place Your Mat Right Next to Your Bed
It’s hard to deny your intention to do morning yoga when the first surface your feet touch is your mat. Even if you get up just to go to the bathroom or drink a glass of water, you’ll have to tread across your mat. You’ve planted the seed of doing yoga. If your bedroom is not well set up for this, leave your mat out, open, and ready, wherever you have space (preferably in the pathway of your morning routine). This can help you slip into your practice (sometimes literally—tread carefully!).
2. Break Yoga’s Rules
I’d often recite the excuse, “I’m cold. My feet are cold. I don’t want to be barefoot and freezing. I’m being kind to myself by letting myself stay warm in bed, and yoga is about self-love.” This was how I talked myself out of yoga right after my alarm went off in the morning.
Our excuses are so smart, right? In my mind, I had to be barefoot to do yoga (it was a “rule”), and being barefoot was too much torture on a winter morning. Ergo, it was OK to skip yoga.
I nipped this excuse in the bud by tossing out the “barefoot” rule and just doing my practice IN socks. Is it really weird to do Down Dog in socks? Yes. Do I recommend it? No. But guess what? After three poses in socks, I’d feel so amazing, I’d gleefully rip them off and start whipping through barefoot sun salutations.
Lesson: Break any rule or preconceived notion you have about yoga to make your morning practice happen. Just. Get. On. Your. Mat.
3. Find Hybrid PJ-Yoga Clothes
I’m cold all the time, so the idea of getting out of bed and immediately stripping down to change into yoga clothes would often be too much to bear. Most of my workout gear is also pretty tight. When I’m stumbling around half-asleep, I didn’t love the idea exchanging floppy flannel for cinching spandex.
Voilà! I started assembling a collection of pajamas that could also work as yoga clothes. For me this came in the form of black Gap cotton leggings and ribbed, cotton tank tops from Gap Body or Victoria’s Secret. These clothes were form-fitting enough for me to feel like I wanted to exercise, while still being comfy enough to sleep in. Would I head to a yoga class in a studio wearing this cotton ensemble? Probably not (unless it was Yin). But for a 10-minute yoga practice at home on my own or with an online video (we recommend Wanderlust TV), it’s perfect!
You could also give looser tank tops, T-shirts, and shorts a try—whatever you’re comfortable in that will also work functionally. Maybe don your favorite top the night before a morning yoga session—whatever you can do to help motivate yourself to practice—do it.
4. Yin It Up
Speaking of Yin, Yin Yoga counts as morning yoga. Yes, you read that right. The voice in my head that encouraged me to hit the snooze button rationalized my inertia with the “self-love” argument. Instead of letting that seductive voice entice me to back to sleep, I now say, “Yes, I’ll go easy on myself—by doing Yin.” It’s a lot easier to slide out of bed and onto your mat when you know delicious, passive stretching with props awaits you.
5. Just Do Child’s Pose
If everything else fails, just do Child’s Pose on your mat for a few breaths. This magic pose stretches your hips, groin, quads, and lower back and is easy for most of us. Ninety-nine percent of the time, if I can make it into Child’s Pose, I naturally end up doing more yoga because it feels so good. So instead of thinking “I have to do yoga,” I think, “I just have to do child’s pose.” Naturally, a bunch of other poses usually ensue.
Our best tip to have a morning practice that sticks? Join a 21-Day Challenge, and reap the benefits of like-minded community to keep you motivated. See you bright and early—on the mat.
Brett Larkin teaches vinyasa flow yoga at top San Francisco studios, companies like Google and Pinterest, and on her YouTube channel, where thousands of students have studied with her for over 6 million minutes. Get her free yoga playlists, yoga teacher training tips, and free dance, yoga, and meditation classes at BrettLarkin.com. Beginner or intermediate yogis can enjoy her online course on deepening your yoga practice.