By Holly Cannon
I’ve often been asked “How do you do a 5:30 am class? I’m not awake much less my body. I like the fact that I’m flexible and more warmed up later in the day.” Well, I used to think the same thing until I tried a 5:30 am yoga class ten years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since! Now I’ll be honest, initially my motivation was work. I liked the idea of one shower a day rather than two. So, yes, it did involve an early wakeup call and getting myself ready and out the door for a bright and early start to my day. But I even eventually came to welcome that benefit as well! What I didn’t realize at the time, was how powerful that morning “centering” became for me. I found my heart rate calm and my body at ease beginning my class right out of the gate. I wasn’t working on silencing any angry voices from throughout the day, mentally working to relax the tension in my body, wondering what I was going to throw together for dinner, or resenting the fact that my day was pretty much “over” by the time I got home in the evening after yoga. Although I wondered in the beginning if my body would be too stiff for the deep forward and backward bends, once I made it a routine, my body adjusted and the flexibility was there. I often noticed my morning practice was “soothing” due to the teacher’s voice having a gentler intonation to it. It was almost like we warmed up together and the energy gradually built in the room and capitalized in a satisfying crescendo. I have to say, I also found a wonderful set of friends that became as dedicated as I to this morning practice. We were a small but mighty group. Eventually the secret got out and people began to realize the benefits of a morning practice. Our little group of 7 or 8 soon mushroomed to 16-25 people and has continued to catch on in the town of Bend, Oregon.
Interestingly enough, it was my boss at work who noticed and pointed out the changes she saw in me from this early morning yoga. She actually encouraged me to do the morning class and even allowed me to come in a little later than the rest of the staff. Working in health care, I often hit the ground running when I got to the office. I was in management and usually had several people at once all asking for my time and attention. By starting my day with yoga, I had the calm presence of mind to step back and assess the situations without becoming flustered or overwhelmed. I had the energy, focus, enthusiasm and peace of mind as I entered the work place for a busy day of unknown expectation and demands. Instead of literally running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I was able to work effectively and efficiently with energy and focus. In essence, yoga took care of me so I could take care of the others.
Now, I don’t want to minimize the benefits of an evening class since many of us have no choice or actually prefer this time, or even enjoy a little of both! As you practice at different times throughout the day, you will notice a common centering of the mind and body, but you may also find benefits unique to that time of day. Each class has their place in our day. You may also notice that the dynamics in the room can be different with each class depending on the teacher, the students, the heat, the size …..just remember it’s all good and we gain something from each experience. What I will point out is the afternoon/evening classes usually involve silencing the racing heart, the frustrated and often angry voices from throughout the day, the body aches and tension, the nagging lists and evening fatigue. I found it takes much more energy to do the evening class and I often can’t say “I enjoyed it.” Do I benefit from it? Absolutely! The end result is the same….I come out calm, relaxed, focused and at peace. A great way to end the evening, I just have to put more of myself into it, to get back the desired results. I encourage anyone to experiment and find out what works best for them if you have the option. But give it a couple weeks. You won’t notice the change overnight. Either way, the rewards to your mind, body and soul after committing to a Bikram workout schedule are so worth whatever else you might have to give up or work around! Enjoy! Bon Appetite!