Some time last year, I embarked upon what I call my “Fitness journey”. I was hesitant to even mention it here on the blog, because I’m not known to sticking to a fitness regimen. Unlike many people who embark upon a fitness journey to lose weight, mine was primarily born out of frustration – a healthier way to beat frustration, more like, but truthfully, still frustration nonetheless.
I’m happy to report that I kept to it, doing brisk walks on the treadmill regularly, and although I fell off the bandwagon at the end of the year, I climbed back on this year. Not only did I climb back on, I managed to improve myself, by incorporating short bursts of running. AND I DID NOT DIE! Let me just say that this is a major achievement for me. For my whole life, I’d only ever aspired to be a sloth… or maybe a koala; once I knew that sloths and koalas sleep for about 23 hours in a day! LOL!
But I also realised that running was a little hard on my body, especially one so unused to strenuous exercise, and I decided to go back to practising yoga on the side. I had been, on a weekly basis for a few years, but this time, I wanted to be better at it. I also decided to create a new routine, as per my new year resolution, by starting my day with a yoga session. And you know what? It’s been amazing! 😀
The reason I decided to try a morning yoga session was because I met a beauty writer for a magazine once, who told me that she put in yoga practise every morning, and it was her version of a morning coffee. The way that most of us need a cup of joe to wake ourselves up, yoga was her “caffeine”. I was intrigued and decided to try it for myself.
7 days (actually a little more) into this morning yoga routine, and I’ve reaped 7 benefits almost immediately, that I’m going to tell you about. Don’t worry, I won’t preach – this is just to remind myself of how I feel now so I can continue my practice! 😀
I feel more awake in the morning
I’m starting slow, by doing a half hour yoga session each morning. I alternate between heart-pumping, sweaty strength building poses and slower, more balancing poses to build flexibility on different days. The upshot is that I’ve found myself feeling more awake in the morning than I have ever been.
I’ve never been a morning person all my life, but I now don’t feel like something the cat dragged in, before my first cup of coffee. I don’t feel like I’m drifting around in a fog, trying to shake the sleep out of my head and body. The half hour of morning stretching wakes up my body, gets the blood going, and I feel so much more awake and ready to tackle the day ahead! It’s been amazing!
I wake up earlier and get more done
Waking up early is a bugbear of mine. We all want to curl up under our bed covers, warm and snug. No one wants to crawl out of bed early just to get in some exercise. It takes discipline. But the effects have been very positive.
Waking up early and getting my half hour in, and a quick shower after that, means I have more time in the morning. More time, means being able to get more done. In the past week or so, I’ve discovered I’ve completed a few tasks, only to realise that it’s just coming on 10.30am. Previously, that would be when I’d be just getting started. Like a car, my engine gets started earlier, and it runs more smoothly thereafter.
I feel more energetic throughout the day
And like an engine, I find that the early start to the day, which should leave me feeling tired or lethargic towards the afternoon, hasn’t. I’m not sure why this is so, but before I started my morning yoga routine, I’d often hit my mid-afternoon slump some time around 1-2pm, and not recover until about 4pm. In this time, I don’t get a lot done, because I seem to be wandering around in a fog, trying desperately to keep my eyes open.
But in just a short 7 days, I’ve realised that I haven’t been experiencing this afternoon slump. Or at least, not in a significant manner. I feel much more alive, and more energetic throughout the day, which actually makes me a lot more productive each day than I usually have been.
I feel more disciplined about exercise
I now set my alarm to wake me up half an hour before the time I usually get up, and I’ll tell you, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done! Let me remind you that I’m a sloth and sloths hate moving. I’m like that. That first push to get out of bed in the morning is the hardest.
Yet, I’ve learned that if I get out and do that half hour of exercise in the morning, I not only feel better about myself after that, it means I’ve got my quota in for the day! So, even if I don’t manage to squeeze in a session on the treadmill later in the day, at least I’ve done something that day. It’s made me more disciplined about exercise – something I never was before.
My body feels more warmed up and flexible for the day ahead
Yoga, as I’m sure many of you are aware, is a lot to do with stretching the different muscles of your body, some of which you did not even realise you had. Ouch! 😛 In the morning, when I first wake up, my body feels stiff. We all do – we’ve been resting in a prone position for at least 8 hours! Well, at least I have 😛
So the first few poses that kickstarts my morning yoga session are always the hardest. The body feels stiff and it’s hard to bend and stretch. But as you go long, the muscles warm up and it gets easier as you work out your whole body. And that feeling tends to follow through the rest of the day. I feel more flexible and just better about myself. This is especially so, as my work involves a lot of sitting down at the computer, and that can put a lot of strain on your back and shoulders. Getting that morning stretch in seems to make this less strenuous, as opposed to sitting straight at your computer first thing in the morning and then not moving for the rest of the day.
It’s easier for me to get into rhythm on the treadmill later in the day
Ironically, my morning yoga sessions seem to prep me better for my treadmill sessions later in the day. I still do a brisk walk – run/jog combo on the treadmill and I can safely say that it’s hard for me to get into that rhythm. But for some reason, when I started doing yoga in the mornings, I found it easier to ease into a running rhythm. Perhaps my body is now warmed up, and the muscles don’t feel as stiff. Perhaps I’ve built on some strengths that I never thought I needed or had. For example, I have very poor core strength, but regular yoga exercises do help to build core strength, and I find that that helps when I attempted to run, and helps me run better and longer each time.
I feel clearer mentally through the day
This benefit wasn’t one I noticed off the bat, but I did realise that I could focus better on things that needed to be done. I was thinking more clearly and perhaps even a little more quickly. I didn’t feel like I was navigating through a fog in the morning, as I used to be. It used to take me ages to “wake up” and get into a good mental frame of mind, but now, I snap into it more quickly. I don’t necessarily feel calmer, as that depends on what happens during the day. But I most definitely have a clearer head, and that is often important too!
Yoga at home
As you can guess, I do yoga at home. I don’t like committing to classes, as it involves my having to drive to a studio, which means extra effort I might otherwise not make.
It must be said however, that I had about 5 years of lessons under my belt before this, so I am quite in tune with the muscles and familiar with the positions.
I DO NOT recommend for anyone to begin practice at home on your own. You must start with a teacher, who can personally guide you. Thereafter, if you choose to practice at home, you won’t hurt yourself.
For home practitioners, I use the Down Dog app on iOS. It is free and has a good selection of routines you can customize to suit your time and needs. But if you are new, please go to a studio or get a teacher for at least a year before you go at it solo.
Do you practise yoga and are you a morning exercise or evening exercise person?
Having now done both, I’ve noticed differences for me. In the morning, something slower that involves more stretching like yoga, makes me feel better. But for something more strenuous like running or brisk walking, I prefer to do it in the evening. That said, do it at any time that feels best for you – the important thing is to get moving 🙂 Don’t I now sound like some fitness motivator? Move it! Feel the burn! LOL 😀