So over the last month we have had temperatures as low as -30 degrees and even though the heat is on in the house and I have a space heater, it is difficult to get my yoga practice going in the morning sometimes. I feel almost like the fact that my life has called for some evening practice times has been a godsend even though I am really more of a morning person, lol. So I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my tried, tested and true motivation methods to get on that mat in the early morning during the dark and cold winter months.
1. When you open your eyes in the morning, drink a large glass of water as soon as your alarm goes off to make you wake up! I keep my water bottle beside my bed so that I pop up and drink it when I turn the alarm off. This helps to get me up, get my digestive tract moving and overall the habit of doing this helps prime me for getting out of bed. It helps that in the next 15 mins, I will need to use the washroom as well, lol!
2. Once you are up, turn the space heater on in your practice space right away so it can start to warm things up from the get-go. I always find that when I do this, I feel happy to step on my mat next to the extra warmth already going. It’s akin to having a car-starter for that morning drive! It just makes things that little bit easier, which actually goes a long way!
3. Wear some extra layers that you can peel off as you warm up. I like to practice in leggings and a sports bra. It isn’t fun to put this on early on a cold day and get to practicing yoga. I wear a long sleeve top and after my surya namaskara, I am usually ready to take it off. Wear whatever makes you feel comfy and able to move without feeling unnecessarily chilly. Even with my space heater, I am acutely aware of the temperature difference as it occilates from left to right.
4. When it’s cold, sometimes I like to try and talk myself out of doing my whole practice. This is actually okay because as you warm up, your mind will change because you will feel that beautiful feeling of your muscles waking up and lengthening as you warm and strengthen. This is one of my favourite parts of practice. As a home practitioner, it is commonplace to have this internal dialogue of doing just standing poses or primary series for me. I relish the end of my practice when I finish the entire thing and actually enjoy doing some of my more difficult poses because I am more aware of how much more fluid and connected I feel as I practice compared to before I started or how I would feel if I didn’t practice. In fact, the memory of this endorphin high is what helps motivate me each time I feel like giving in to my desire to stay in bed. Over time, it has become a serious motivator so that now I am able to get up at 4:30am when I need to start home practice as early as 5am so that I can fit it into my day.
People have gasped in disbelief when I tell them the schedule I have and even more so at the schedule I had before I had children. As a dental hygienist working down in the city, I would have to get up at 3:20am to fit practice in at my shala before heading to work for 7:30am. I know it sounds crazy, but when something changes your life the way practicing yoga has changed mine, it is really a no brainer. The priming of practicing at early times and the feeling in my body after each time I practice continues to serve as a serious motivator for me to continue. Don’t get me wrong, there are still days where I have had REAL trouble, but knowing that my feeling will return if I push through has allowed me to get past the initial inertia many times.
5. My final tip is to plan for a delicious cup of coffee and breakfast after practice. I often think about what I will do and how I will feel after I am done to motivate me to get out of bed when it is most difficult. I also remind myself how upset I will be if I do give in and stay in bed. There is just too much to gain from getting up and doing my asana and breathing through each pose. It really is such a personal time, to connect and feel into me before I spend the day as open to what the day may hold as possible. It is a way to regroup and collect myself, and each time I am able to will myself onto the mat and do my practice is another proof that I am the master of my destiny. It sounds cliche, but I enjoy the ability I have to help myself be my best self each time I am able to do so. I feel confident, I feel strong, I feel capable and most of all, I feel ME. It is what keeps me motivated, sane even. My practice is one thing I can count on, whether it is only standing because my son wakes up or I’m able to do my whole practice. I am there, everyday, contributing to the betterment of my physical, mental and spiritual health. I am my own master. I am the director of what I am capable of doing and it feels fucking awesome.
So be your master. Kick your butt out of bed for a meditation, a run, yoga, anything that helps you reset yourself and find YOU before you begin your day. It will only bring joy, happiness and confidence and who wouldn’t want that??
Be your best self, hug yourself and look in the mirror today- smile and tell yourself you are amazing because YOU ARE!!