The benefits of a morning practice

There’s a reason why the birds sing in the morning - they know that it’s the best part of the day! When you exercise in the morning, you take back a part of your day from all the phone calls, messages and emails. It’s a peaceful and sacred time, which these days is rare!

If you’re thinking ‘I’m not a morning person’, don’t worry, it gets easier the more you do it, and very soon it’ll be second nature to you! Early morning starts also encourage you to get to bed on time and, as a extra bonus, get a better night's sleep. When you have a morning routine it’s easier to stick to it, with the added benefit of leaving your evenings free. With the best will in the world, a busy day, or other evening commitments, can often stop you from getting onto your mat.

Life is more static than ever before. In the past people were used to daily manual labour and physical activity. These days we have cleverly designed electrical devices to do all the work for us, and we’ve replaced this ‘free time’ with sitting at our desks. To every action there is a reaction, and physical labour has been replaced by overworking our poor brains in a very static environment. Businesses are starting to see the detrimental effect this has on the health of their staff, and are beginning to encourage more activity and mindfulness. In return, they reap the benefits of staff who feel cared for, more alert and productive throughout the day. The physical and mental benefits to your health are well-documented and a hot topic in the media.

Yoga has an abundant range of benefits at any time of day – from an early morning stretch to a lunchtime de-stress or an evening wind-down. The time of day that works best for me is early morning, before I start my day. It resets my system and prepares me for whatever is in store. Starting your day with movement gets you ready for the day and, for those with desk jobs, helps you sit with ease for the rest of your day. Yoga breath awareness helps you use the breath throughout the day to cultivate calm and combat moments of tension in the workplace, with your children, or whatever your daily challenges are, reminding you to pause before you react to situations.

Because of the variety of movements yoga offers, it stretches and strengthens your whole body and helps alleviate morning stiffness. It lubricates and stretches all the connective fascial tissue, which supports the entire musculoskeletal system. It also helps to build a healthy spine - a spine that has been well oiled first thing in the morning is less likely to pinch or tweak during the day. All the supporting muscles have been switched on, and are ready to support the spine for the day. Yoga also improves balance and coordination, building spatial awareness which helps prevent injury.

We are all beginning to understand the importance of good digestion to all-round health. A morning practice wakes up the digestive system. Twisting, stimulating and massaging all our internal organs, it alleviates bloating and helps with a good morning elimination! It also raises the metabolism and keeps it elevated for hours afterwards.

Putting aside some time for yourself is the kindest and most nourishing gift you can give to yourself. This kindness encourages you to make healthy choices for the rest of the day by starting as you mean to go on. Set an intention or a focus and revisit it throughout your day. It’ll bring you back to your mat, your ‘happy space’, and give you renewed strength for the day.

The illustration below shows the huge variety of the benefits yoga offers. If we could start our day with even one or two of the benefits wouldn’t it be worth that little push to roll yourself out of bed and onto your mat to the tune of the early birds?

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru