There has been lots of buzz about the Yoga on High Morning Mysore Club. We have over 20 members already and the number is growing. This is crazy to me as I know the commitment it takes to show up at this hour. When people ask me about the club, instead of giving all the reasons why they should sign-up, I actually let them know all the reasons why they shouldn’t. The club requires a commitment of no less than three mornings a week – so my hat goes off to all those that are accomplishing this challenge.
Here is what I share with Ashtanga students who are thinking of joining our community -
Get honest with yourself -- you can’t burn the candle at both ends! To wake at 4am and successfully get out the door and arrive to class, you must be in bed early; for me that means no later than 9:30pm.
To have a comfortable practice you don’t just need sleep, you need an empty stomach. That’s right, no food past 7:00pm and this early evening meal needs to be healthy and light. Overeating or consuming heavy foods leaves you with food hangovers that make you sluggish and your practice suffers.
This brings up alcohol. I dare you to go out drinking the night before and see if you have the focus and motivation to show up. Even if you do hit the heated room at 5am, you can tell me how that sixth backbend feels. I guarantee the word nauseous comes up.
Even though the Ashtanga sequence is the same everyday your body and mind make the practice a little different each time. Your eyes might be open but your body is often tight in the early hours. On some days, my mind is quiet, my breath is even and deep, I bind in every pose and I feel as light a feather. Other days I can relate to football players doing training in the off season when they are pulling a truck tire behind them to develop strength and speed. 5am Mysore can be like conditioning training for yogis. Of course, this is not what it is about. With your yoga practice you should take the good with the bad, without judgment, and continue to show-up to wake up.
While all these little sacrifices may seem bearable they may alter your relationships, family activities, and social life. There is no staying up until midnight to watch your favorite television show on DVR. The fact of the matter is that the things that used to be important to you will not seem so relevant, especially the things that don’t serve your highest good. Your sleep, diet, thoughts and, ultimately, your life shifts. Psychologically this shift can be a little scary which can cause us to run from the yoga practice itself. Yoga is cultivated with consistency in practice over a long period of time and this takes commitment.
Although yoga is for everyone; Ashtanga is not always for everyone. Personally, I have found that when I make a commitment to something in life, sacrifices are always involved. What are you willing to sacrifice to commit? Quite often what we have to sacrifice are limiting beliefs. Linda Oshins, mentioned resolve in her Pranayama class during a Yoga Nidra session, “Can you find comfort in the uncomfortable?” I am not telling you to hurt yourself, but to observe discomfort by staying and listening to your mind and body for a moment. Question why the resistance is there and look at your edge in both the mental and physical plane. What is your resistance to getting out of bed early, or to doing headstand in the middle of the room? Is it a mental or physical game? A quote that has come up in several conversations this week with my teacher Taylor Hunt has been, “Don’t believe everything you think”. Creating a new habit in your life shifts your life powerfully, especially when that habit is morning Mysore at 5:00am.
Despite the obvious challenges I (and I think I can speak for others) almost always feel better for showing-up and practicing. There is something truly beautiful about the Morning Mysore Club; you have the practice itself, the heat, the grace of the morning hour, the teacher, the community, and the psychological edge of staying true to your “resolve” or commitment.
Tips on Waking Early for the Morning Mysore Club
• Be Organized: Lay out your clothes the night before and prepare your bag. Set your keys, coffee/tea mug out so you know where they are and take what you can out to your car.
• Sleep: You k now your body better than anyone else. You know how much sleep you need, what time you need to wake up and can calculate what time you need to go to bed.
• Diet: Make lunch your biggest meal of the day and dinner a light vegetarian meal. Be mindful that it takes up to 30 hours to digest meat. Don’t eat past 7:00pm.
• Self-Care: Shower the night before (and again in the morning if you can). In the evening after your shower apply sesame or coconut oil to your body. On Saturday (a non-practice day) you could follow the following castor oil treatment in the blog Ashtanga Yoga Mother Earth. * Be careful not to stain clothing or sheets. I recommend having an old set of clothes especially for this purpose.
• Oral Health: Brush your teeth, floss and scrape your tongue at least once a day.
• Alarms: Set two alarms just in case. Never hit snooze and let the second alarm be your final warning. Set the alarm to a sound or music that inspires you. Shower as soon as you get up and out of bed. Good morning!
• Visualization: Before you fall asleep visualize yourself waking up and going to practice. Be very specific in your visualization and create neuro-pathways for your new habit. Say to your self, “I choose to wake-up at 4:15am” and see what happens.
• Routine: A ritual is very important and powerful for your body and mind. Practice, eat and sleep at the same time everyday and see how your life unfolds. Develop a routine that serves your highest good.
• Do What You Can: Don’t beat yourself up for what you did not do yesterday and make each day a new day. Life is busy and we have many commitments. I recommend starting small and layering on. For example, if you are new to waking up early then start by arriving at the studio by 6:30a and every week come 15 minutes earlier. We are trying to sustain a lifelong practice. It is a marathon not a sprint. Balance your practice, be realistic but most importantly show-up.
If I haven’t talked you out of it and you would like to make a commitment to show-up and practice at the Morning Mysore Club please contact me at email@example.com or visit our website for more details.