Think back on your morning. Maybe you hit the snooze button a few times, scrambled to get ready for the day, scarfed down some breakfast and jetted off, already breathless. A bit of a frenzy, no?
Now, imagine starting instead with some stretching and meditative breathing to center your mind. That sets an entirely different mood for the day — and it’s just one of many upsides to a morning yoga practice. And you’ll only need to get up a few minutes earlier to do it. Promise!
We asked five yogis how starting the day on their mats improves their lives (and may help you, too)
Once you begin getting your vinyasa on in the a.m., you might find that it becomes almost as essential as your first cup of coffee.
Your breathing improves
Breath work is the heart of yoga. And doing some conscious inhaling and exhaling in the morning can help clear your airways. “I have allergies and often wake up pretty stuffy. After moving through an intense flow and concentrating on my breathing, I usually find that my congestion is less acute than when I don't do yoga in the mornings,” says yogi Linsey Stevens. “This means less sniffling and reaching for tissues, ultimately allowing me to be more present and content with my body.”
You get some headspace
Do you scroll through your phone the moment you open your eyes? Consider making yoga your new morning habit — it’ll help you start the day with a good mindset. “Before checking your emails, reading the news or getting swept up in your to-do lists, set time to be with your body,” suggests Victoria Gordon, yoga instructor at New York Health & Racquet Club . “Dedicate a few minutes to meditation to get centered. If you don’t have the time to do an hour-long yoga class, savor a 10-minute practice at home, free of distractions.”
You feel less stiff
Our bodies are designed for movement — that’s why we naturally crave a quick stretch after waking up. Doing yoga early in the day will help your body feel more alive after eight hours of shut eye, says yoga instructor Jayla Pearce . "We are generally most stiff when we wake up. Gently stretching and breathing into areas of stiffness in your body will loosen you up and help you feel better,” she adds.
You squeeze in your exercise first thing
It’s all too easy to push off exercise after a busy day. One of the biggest benefits of morning yoga might also be the most practical: You knock out your workout before you have an excuse not to. “Practicing in the morning increases your odds of actually getting butt to mat," says yoga teacher Sharon Roemmel. "It’s too easy to tell yourself that you’ll practice after you catch up on e-mails or finish up at work, but then you’re too tired or something else comes along and, goodbye to yoga."
You shift your outlook — for the better
Yoga isn't just about contorting the body into shapes — it’s also about setting intentions, like being patient and positive. Carrying that intention with you after stepping off the mat can help improve your entire day. “The biggest benefit of having a morning yoga practice is that it sets up my day with the right intention. When I choose to start with yoga first thing, my mind is more clear, my choices are thoughtful and my body feels more flexible,” says Heather Englund, a yoga instructor.