One of the benefits of committing to the Ayurvedic clock has been scheduling a yoga practice at the same time each day, rather than fitting it in when I might be tired, hungry, stressed-out, whatever. You’ve already read why this matters; basically because our biological rhythms move through cycles that offer us the good, better, best time of day to practice. Knowing the best time to practice compels me to schedule it early in the morning before I start my work day. All I’m really going to be first thing in the morning is sleepy, as opposed to all the other things I become throughout the typical day. And of all the tasks I face each day it much more pleasant to wake up and face yoga as the first thing.
You knew there would be a but, right?
But what I don’t want to do in the morning is tackle the problem of creating a practice. Sure, I could do Sun Salutations until the sun actually salutes but I won’t. I know Me. I’ll want a sequence to ease me into the day yet be stimulating enough spark my energy. But I am loath to craft a sequence out of thin air first thing in the morning. That’s too much mental work too soon. I know Me. I’ll either practice the same favorites over and over or use the full hour writing the sequence instead of practicing it because my brain isn’t fully awake and ready for problem-solving yet. In short, I need a class in the morning. I need a teacher. And I need it it in my home in close proximity to my coffee pot. And the split-second after I roll up my mat the countdown to getting out the door begins. If ever I needed some structure it is with early morning yoga.
Online classes have given me that structure. In my home. In close proximity to my coffee pot. Available to shut down after the last Namaste and jump into bathing/breakfast/work prep without the encumbrances of travel and logistics. I can just roll it up, log it off, and go.
But wait, there’s more.
You knew there would be more, right?
Because I do not ask too much of my brain so early I don’t waste a lot of time choosing which class to stream. There is no dithering over style, teacher, themes, or goal poses. I have exactly six minutes to roll out my mat, gather my props, and cue up a class. The only qualifying criteria for class choice is length–60 minutes or less on weekdays. This means I end up taking classes with teachers I might not have otherwise chosen and practicing yoga styles I might not particularly like. For instance, I don’t like Kundalini yoga. I don’t like Ashtanga yoga. I’ve tried to like them many times but I just don’t. In any other circumstance I would never choose either style to practice on my own time and my own turf, but now I do (by default).
Here’s the best part. I swear learn more this way. Insights and subtleties of the practice come to me on the mat even while practicing yoga styles I do not like or following instructions from teachers I really don’t like. Of course I get frustrated and downright pissed off sometimes but this is also part of the practice. That’s yoga too. The upside is that I’ll often learn something new and immediately beneficial to my practice from a teacher I would have passed over because of a label. As in, oooh, she’s an Ashtanga teacher so I’ll pass. I don’t pass in the morning. I try one of Forrest Gump’s chocolates and submit to what I get.
Pre-natal yoga? You bet your asana. I’ve learned so much from classes designated as pre-natal and I am clearly not the target demographic for them. Same for post-natal yoga. Same for yoga for arthritis or yoga for downhill skiers or yoga for angry young men. I learn so much more when I let go of preference and pattern. Dropping the judgment is a side-effect of avoiding decision-making so early in the morning. If I ain’t gonna waste my time being choosy I’m not gonna waste my time being fussy either. The surrender of early morning puts me in a place to readily accept the class and teacher, and like magic, I learn more. Yes, I modify a lot but I learn more. Yes, I skip the panting but I learn more.
Just this morning an Ashtanga teacher opened up a whole new world of understanding in spinal twists. (Don’t like twists and I really don’t like an entire class on the damn things.) I’ve spent the entire day thinking about it; no kidding–the entire day. She’s the shape and size of a bendy straw. She doesn’t have to compensate for D cups in Parivrrta Parsvakonasana. She doesn’t have Welsh thighs preventing a bind in Marichyasana III. But she is an effective teacher and her lesson had staying power. After this morning my twists are forever changed. I would have missed out had I eliminated her class as a choice based on a yoga bio. So that’s the lesson (surrender) inside the lesson (morning practice) inside the lesson (Ayurveda). I just can’t recommend it enough.
— Cornice Tramping