Many of our goals and intentions, such as New Year’s resolutions, are based on becoming happier, healthier, less stressed, and free from (negative) habits. It’s not easy to let go of one bad habit, but it can leave a big hole in your life. This is why quitting smoking, sugar, alcohol, or chocolate is hard. There’s no way to replace it.
Habits are often created for a reason. Habits can relieve stress, provide entertainment, make us feel good, or subconsciously give us a sense of security. Habits are not bad, but they don’t always help us be our best
In with the new, out with the old
Yoga is a great way to get rid of bad habits and create new ones that offer similar benefits for the body and mind. Yoga can improve mental clarity and relaxation and increase endorphin release, which makes the body more comfortable.
You can make a habit of practicing yoga every morning for 21 days. Maybe you’ll even continue it for the rest of the year? You’ll be glad you did it when the New Year rolls around.
I have enlisted the assistance of my yoga teacher and student friends who practice in the morning. You can also get some guidance from the pages of the ancient Yoga Sutras or Ayurvedic texts to see for yourself why increasing numbers of people choose yoga to start their day.
1. Set your intentions
Many yoga classes offer the opportunity to set an intention at the beginning. It could be a desire to practice kindness to the body when feeling tired or focusing the mind into stillness. Or an intention that you want to grow self-trust, confidence, and trust in yourself. This intention, whatever it is, can shape your day and give you a direction for the next 24 hours. This is similar to setting a New Year’s resolution each morning. However, it might be easier to keep it for 24 hours than 365 days.
2. Salute the Sun
To welcome the sun and welcome the new day, Surya Namaskar was traditionally performed at sunrise. We can tap into our natural rhythms by being mindful of the rhythms in the natural world and practicing as the sun rises.
Many people get so wrapped up in technology and work that they forget to appreciate their natural state. This morning routine serves as a reminder.
3. Fuzz is gone
Our muscles rest overnight, and while they aren’t moving, connective tissue and bodily fluid build up between them. This is commonly known as “fuzz”. The urge to stretch when we wake up is a way of getting rid of the fuzzy buildup between our muscles. This layer builds up over time, making it stiffer and more rigid and causing common aches, pains, and chronic tightness.
4. Don’t start stressed…
Our nervous system knows what it’s like to jump out of bed after hitting the sleep button too many times. Your nervous system will feel more relaxed if you give yourself an extra half hour to get up in the mornings and practice. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is already elevated in the mornings to provide us with the energy we need to get up. However, if we increase our cortisol levels quickly with additional stress, it can lead to a stressful day. Yoga practice can be made a daily habit, allowing the body to switch off the sympathetic ‘fight-or-flight’ stress response and tap into the healing powers of the parasympathetic nervous systems. This will increase both the body’s health and mental well-being.
5. Reduce your need for coffee
Yoga can serve many purposes. It can be relaxing and rejuvenating but also stimulating and energizing. Even if you are tired, a morning yoga practice can make you feel more awake. Sun Salutations and backbends are some of the best practices for building energy.