How come it is so easy for some people to get up early and get their yoga done before starting the day? As it turns out, your habits and lifestyle have a significant impact on how effortlessly you can get out of bed when your alarm rings. Here are eleven strategic lifestyle changes that will make it a lot more straightforward for you as well.
I base the knowledge I share with you in this article on more than twenty years of experience in waking up early. I base it not only on my own experience but on information I have gathered from fellow yoga teachers as well. Furthermore, having organised more than 20 yoga retreats (and helped running many more), I have seen for myself that most people can get up early if the conditions are right.
In addition to being methods that work in real life, I have checked the advice I am giving you against scientific studies. So rest assured that these are strategies that will help you bounce out of bed as well. You will get the most help from them if you implement all or most of them.
However, changing your habits should take time, so don’t rush.
Having gotten that out of the way, let’s go straight to my eleven best strategies for helping you get out of bed and get your morning yoga done.
1. Eat healthily
What you eat impacts very much on how you feel and how much energy you have. To sleep well, avoid food that makes you sluggish. That includes sugar, unhealthy fat and fast carbohydrates. Instead, aim for a balanced diet with lots of vegetables. Eating well isn’t rocket science. By choosing healthy food, you will wake up more effortlessly. You will also have more energy for your day, and your yoga practice will improve overall.
2. Have dinner early
It is not only about what you eat; when you eat counts a lot too. Digestion is most effective around noon, therefore aim to have your main meal at this time. Make your dinner lighter and have it early so that you have fully digested before you go to sleep. This will improve sleep quality.
Also, think about not drinking more than you need before going to bed. It’s better to avoid interrupting sleep by having to go to the bathroom.
3. Go to bed at a reasonable time
It may sound impressive that some people get up at three in the morning to meditate. However, it sounds more manageable if you also know that they go to bed at nine in the evening. If you want to wake up early, you had better go to sleep at a reasonable time.
4. Do yoga practices to speed up digestion
Since your evening meal impacts your sleep, it is good to do some practices that speed up digestion. Nauli and agnisar are two practices that can achieve that. However, the much more accessible wave breath does it even better and, as a bonus, gives you great relaxation as well.
5. Meditate before going to bed
It is helpful to meditate before bedtime since it gives you better sleep. Better sleep quality means you will feel more refreshed in the morning. Various meditation techniques have different effects. One I find particularly good in the evening is the concentration technique tratak.
Some people have objections about meditating in the evening. Read this article to find out where I stand on that.
6. Practice asana, pranayama and meditation
Getting up early to do more yoga comes with a host of benefits. One benefit that I have seen in myself and hundreds of others (especially during yoga retreats) is that people’s need for sleep drops. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 55% of yoga practitioners in the US say yoga improves their sleep. In addition, many scientific studies back up this sentiment.
As you can see, getting up early frees us for more time for practice, and we can get a virtuous circle going. Doing yoga early in the morning will make it easier to get up early the next day.
7. Avoid screen time in the evening
Smartphones, tablets, computers, TV screens, and certain e-readers give off short-wavelength blue light similar to sunlight. Exposure to this type of light makes us more alert and tricks the body into believing it’s still daytime.
Therefore, the body produces less of the sleep hormone melatonin, interfering with the body’s natural sleep rhythm. The more time you spend in front of your screen, the greater the impact on your sleep.
My advice is to avoid screens in the evening. Put them away at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
8. Be consistent with bedtime hours and yoga practice
Good sleep hygiene implies going to sleep the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning, weekends included. Such a rhythm helps the body’s biological clock stay on track and regulate other body functions such as appetite and digestion.
This is similar with your yoga practice. Ideally, set up a daily routine that you follow without fail. Your body gets used to it, which will make sleep even better and make it easier for you to get out of bed.
9. Be active and spend more time outdoors
When I lived in Haa Ashram during my yoga teacher training, I slept incredibly well. I would fall asleep each night so fast I could hardly believe it myself. In a matter of a minute or two after lying down, I would already be slumbering.
In addition to everything else I have already mentioned in this post, one more element contributed to my stellar sleep during that period. I spent a lot of time outdoors, and except when I was doing yoga or meditating, I was physically active.
It is not just my subjective impression. Scientific studies show that both time outdoors and physical exercises improve sleep. Aim at getting some of both every day.
10. Get up earlier in gradual steps
Minor changes are more manageable than big ones. Getting used to getting up early in steps is more effortless than abruptly changing your routine from one day to another. Take it gradually so that your body has the time to adjust. Getting more and more time in the morning for more extended yoga practice will, of course, help you even more.
Also, it is essential to set realistic and sustainable goals. Don’t push yourself too hard. It will only be frustrating and demotivating.
11. Get motivational support from others
If you can get some support to wake up, it could be of huge help. Living in a yoga community where others expect you to be in the yoga room in the morning makes you less inclined to press the snooze button. You can get similar help if you agree with your spouse or roommate to do morning yoga together. Or if you decide to meet your friend at the yoga studio for the first morning class.
One last advice
When I follow the advice given in this article, I usually wake up a few minutes before my alarm clock. My internal clock gets so used to the rhythm. I am confident you will benefit as well. However, if you need a little more help, then try putting your alarm clock away from your bedside table so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
- It is easy to wake up early by creating the right conditions.
- Yoga, breathing exercises and meditation are efficient in improving sleep quality.
- By liberating time for yoga in the morning, you help to create a virtuous circle making it even easier to wake up early the next day.