I am not a morning person.
Despite knowing all the benefits I could be afforded if only I embraced the early hours of the day, I’ve had no success in shifting my habits – and trust me, there have been many, many attempts.
So, when I was challenged to add a yoga move into my morning routine, I wasn’t thrilled. As it stands, right now my mornings consist of me sleeping until the absolute latest I can, finally getting up and immediately panicking at the amount of work I have to complete that day, dragging myself over to my computer, addressing what needs to be done immediately. Then I shower, make coffee and power through until everything is done.
Where exactly am I supposed to fit a yoga move into that routine?
But after doing some research, I decided on “downward dog.” If you’re not familiar with this position, you start on your hands and knees, then push your butt up into the air as you lengthen your spine with your heels raised. Potential benefits of the downward dog pose include stress relief, calming the brain and energizing the body – all of which I could certainly use to start my morning off with. So, I set my alarm clock early, and decided to give it a try.
When my alarm clock rang at 8 am, I was confused, and almost turned it off before remembering why I set it. I sauntered out of bed, rolled out my yoga mat and placed myself into position. I hung out there for a minute or two, did some deep breathing and tried not to think about everything else I could be using this time for. Once that time was up, I decided to do a few other stretches while I had my mat out, then rolled it up and hit the shower. I didn’t notice much of a change on day one, which I was a little disappointed about, but I figured I just needed to give it time.
Now that I knew what I was in for (and that, really, it wasn’t all that bad), it was easier to get out of bed and get onto my mat – which I’d count as a small win. After I did the pose, showered, ate breakfast and sat down on my computer, I noticed how different my body felt sitting in that chair. Typically, sitting at my desk first thing in the morning causes me instant panic. But today, there was an inner calm that lasted me throughout the day – and even helped me fall asleep at a decent hour.
By day three, I had started looking forward to hitting my yoga pose. My arms and legs started feeling stronger, so I stayed in that pose for a full five minutes instead of the two minutes I had typically been committing to – which made me feel accomplished. Throughout the day, I noticed that my posture was better than it usually is – I wasn’t fidgeting as much at my desk and felt more comfortable in my body overall.
On day four of this experiment I was legitimately sore. My upper thighs and triceps felt tired, and by minute three of my downward dog I was too tired to keep going. It was weird that I felt this way, because it seemed like my arms looked a little trimmer – but maybe it was just my imagination.
Day 5 – 6
These two days were the hardest to hold the pose for. I found myself wanting to explore other poses, or engage in a longer yoga flow, because at this point it had become boring. However, the benefits of having done this for almost a week were undeniable. I had more energy going into my work day by starting my morning off this way. My body felt stronger, especially my arms and thighs. The minor aches and pains in my back that I had chalked up to being in my 30s were no longer bothering me.
On the final day of this experiment, I woke up before my alarm. This might seem like no big deal, but for me this is not a common occurrence. I can’t tell you the last time I woke up on my own before 8 am without noise being the cause of it. This yoga experiment had done what I have never been able to do: turn me into a morning person.
In the future, I plan to incorporate this pose into my morning routine – and explore other yoga poses and flows to keep it interesting. If you’re looking to make your body feel stronger, for more energy and better sleep, I highly recommend giving a daily yoga pose a try.