I fell in love with yoga in college. Every Saturday morning of my freshman year, a few friends and I would ride the bus to the free class offered at a Lululemon downtown. It was a half-hour commute for a class that started at 8:30 a.m., but we went religiously, regardless of how much or how little we'd slept, only skipping when we were home for break.
For an anxious college freshman who could never turn her brain off, yoga was a godsend. Focusing on the physicality of the practice helped me tune out my own thoughts. Supporting myself on the mat and leaning into each stretch provided a different, deeper form of focus than lifting weights or going on a run. It was just as beneficial for my mind as it was for my body.
I loved how calm, centered, and ready to take on the day I felt after those classes, and that inspired me to incorporate the practice into my daily life. While I don't always have time for a class, I make sure to start my mornings with a short yoga routine. It helps me wake up my body and get in the right headspace for the work ahead, as well as discover any sore spots that might need extra attention.
While working from home, it's been easy for me to fall into the trap of opening my computer as soon as I wake up and responding to emails while I'm still in bed. Sticking to my yoga routine helps me remember to take a few minutes for myself: to breathe, to focus, and to set an intention for my day. I've tried starting my mornings with meditation, but always struggle to turn my focus inward, and away from the day ahead of me. Yoga helps me ground that meditative focus in movement, and to stay mindful throughout the practice.
It also wakes up my mind and body enough that returning to bed isn't an option. I usually get out of bed thinking it'll take a cup of coffee to wake me up, but after this routine, I feel refreshed and energized. I start my routine (below) in child's pose, set an intention, then flow through the practice twice, once on each side. (Start the second sequence at the first Warrior 1.)
Chaturanga, or four-limbed staff pose