There’s nothing meditative about waking up at 5:30am to your alarm clock screaming it’s equivalent of YOOOOOGA at you. It’s not really relaxing. It doesn’t immediately make your hips feel more open. And the thought of leaving your warm bed for a hot sweaty room can be daunting.
So then, why did I find myself awake at 5:30, out of the house by 5:45 and on my mat by 6:30?
I’ll be honest – I did it for my two friends I promised I’d be there. Typically speaking I can promise you that you will not find me on my mat before 12pm and usually not before 6pm. I’m an evening yogi. I like how my hips feel, I have more energy and I like the idea of meditating on the day I’ve had.
But with that slightly lengthy disclaimer being said I do find one aspect of a morning practice intriguing. It’s a lot like waking up… but longer.
You walk to yoga in a dream like haze. If you’re lucky you’ve got a good book (like the Isaacson Biography about Steve Jobs) to tide you over. That’s not even really like being awake – when the sun isn’t even up yet that is essentially sleep walking with just a drop more direction.
When you roll into the studio and mumble at someone that you’re there for class, try hard to spell your name, then drop your yoga mat, startle yourself and annunciate. That sequence of events is like the snooze button. I’m awake, but I don’t want to be; quit bothering me.
Then you roll out your mat and find yourself in child’s pose before the teacher walks in. That’s basically those extra five minutes you’d get as a kid before mom would come in a shake you awake again.
When your instructor finally walks in and shakes you out of your child-like slumber (pun intended) and asks you to get into your first pose – that’s when you know it’s on – even if it’s a seated posture (which you hope to God it is).
Om is like that moment when you decide for yourself you want to get up. That moment when you go from sitting on the edge of your bed to really starting your day. Allow the day to commence.
Your first couple breaths in down dog are like that yawning stretching feeling you get right after you stand up. You kind of shake and feel your spine extend what feels like three inches. Several things pop and slowly but surely your foggy eyes focus on your toes behind you.
The first Sun A is easy; like getting in the shower on a cold morning. You’re moving and awake and the day has begun, but you’re taking it slow – letting each pose feel like that extra second you’re buying yourself before you have to enter back into that chilly reality. You savor it.
By the time Sun B hits you’re feeling warmed up. It’s like getting dressed. You’re mapping out your day, deciding how you’ll present yourself the rest of the day. This is one of those crucial moments when you’re deciding what post 7:30am will feel like. It’s like brushing your teeth – a clean fresh start.
Getting into the strong poses like your warriors and side angles is like your cup of coffee. They are energizing and motivating. They make you feel like maybe the rest of the day will not only be conquerable, but invigorating.
By the time you’re in your standing poses you’ve got your keys. And are about to hit it out the door. You feel prepared for the rest of your day.
An inversion at 7:20am feels like that last thing you almost forgot to do. Something that at another time of the day would be routine and easy, but at this exact moment feels like climbing Everest.
Savasana is like being on the road and out the door. Calming because it’s so routine. You’re beginning your commute.
Coming out of savasana on the other hand is a lot like waking up from that dream where you were getting ready and then wake up and it’s five til 8am and you have to get it moving. It’s like a jolt, a shock to the system, but one that you needed.
That final Om is the real start to your day. The icing on the cake. Surprise – you’re suddenly 100% totally awake.
Good morning, NYC!