“I just don’t have time to go to a yoga class!”
This is a common reason for not practising yoga (or any other health habit) – and there’s often some truth to it. Most people can find the time for a weekly yoga session, but to make progress you need to practice more than once a week. Who has time for multiple yoga classes?!
You shouldn’t give up though. Considering the many benefits of regular yoga practice, it’s important to find time. While you might not be able to commit to regular classes, it’s nearly always possible to carve 20-minutes out of your day for some basic practice at home.
One of the best ways to find this time is to fit yoga into your morning routine. So, here are five tips for making yoga a morning habit.
1. Practice Getting Up With the First Alarm
There’s something delicious about hitting the snooze button and rolling back into the warmth of your bed. In fact, it’s so tempting that I often used to find myself “snoozing” for five or six times before eventually getting up.
Unfortunately, the snooze button is a huge waste of time. You’re not getting any “real” benefit from the extra time in bed, as your sleep is constantly interrupted. Snoozing also wastes times that could be spent more productively.
If you’re struggling to get up with the alarm, here are a few tips to make it easier:
- Choose an alarm sound that you like (or at least don’t hate)
- Remind yourself of the benefits of getting up on-time before you go to bed
- Get to bed earlier
- Use an alarm clock with a light that mimics sun-rise
- Wake up at the same time every day (even on the weekends)
- Put the alarm across the room so you are forced to get up
- Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up
I’m not going to say getting up with your alarm is easy. But by using the techniques above and creating a routine that works for you, you’ll find it it’s possible to consistently rise at a time that you choose.
2. Commit to Just One Pose
Our brains are experts at making excuses to avoid activities that take effort – even if we know the activities are beneficial.
A common trick is to make yoga “all or nothing.” Before I made yoga a morning habit, I would often feel that if I didn’t have time for at least a 30-minute session there wasn’t any point. The longer I debated with myself about getting up, the less time I had left, so the more excuse I had not to practice.
This is the wrong attitude. Make a commitment to completing just one pose every morning (child pose is a good one to use). As long as you complete this pose, you can consider the morning a success.
I’m not saying your “real” goal should be just one pose a day. But you’ll often find that once you get started it’s easier to continue into a longer practice. It also takes away the guilt of missing a session if a morning doesn’t go to plan – as long as you complete that one pose.
3. Keep Your Mat By Your Bed
If you want to develop a new habit, it’s important to eliminate as many barriers as possible. Even the simple act of fetching your yoga mat from the cupboard can seem like a monumental effort first thing in the morning, so make things easier by leaving it by your bed before you go to sleep.
This has the added benefit of reminding you about your intention to practice each morning. It’s hard to ignore a mat when you need to walk over it just to get up!
If your bedroom isn’t big enough, try leaning the mat against your door. This forces you to physically touch it when you get up.
4. Prepare Your Clothes
Imagine waking up on a cold winter’s morning. You know you want to start your yoga practice, but your bed is so inviting…plus your only yoga clothes are still in the wash basket. What do you think is likely to happen?
That’s right, you’ll probably stay in bed (and who can blame you). You shouldn’t be searching for your gear first thing in the morning as this just creates another potential roadblock.
Instead, leave your yoga clothes folded and next to your bed. You can slip into them when you wake up without needing to search. Make sure you leave out enough clothes to keep you warm if it’s likely to be a cold morning.
An even better option is to wear pyjamas that can double as yoga clothes. This means you don’t even need to get changed before starting your practice.
5. Remember It’s YOUR Practice
Yoga isn’t a competitive sport, but it’s easy to feel guilty if your morning practice consists of some easy poses.
The key is to remember that this is your practice. If you prefer to start the day with some relaxing Yin Yoga, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s much better to enjoy a low-intensity yoga practice 5-days a week than forcing yourself into a routine that you probably won’t stick with.
Your reason for practising also affects the type of morning yoga you should perform. If you have a specific goal – such as to develop core strength or lose weight (perhaps with a program like Yoga Burn) – you’ll need to create a routine with this in mind.
On a similar note, don’t feel that you need to follow yoga “rules.” This is your practice and you’re allowed to do whatever you want.
BONUS: Make a Chain
I’ve found that one of the best ways to develop a habit is to track how many days in a row you’ve hit your target. This quickly builds up a “chain” of successful days that our brain has a natural aversion to breaking.
Even if your target is to perform one pose each morning, it’s much harder to skip your practice when it means breaking a long chain.