Mornings on the mat
If you told me ten years ago that I’d be one of those “morning workout people,” I would have laughed. And I definitely wouldn’t have believed you. Becoming an earlier riser wasn’t something that happened suddenly. It was a gradual lifestyle shift that I worked toward, one that also came more naturally as I've gotten closer and closer to the big 3-0.
Staying up late and sleeping in was the norm for me, as it was for most, back in those college years. This habit lingered in my early twenties. It was only natural since I worked in the ad industry, one that’s not exactly known for early mornings but actually, the opposite—especially when you’re on a creative team with a deadline.
Yes, there was the occasional stop at the gym before work, but more likely I’d plan to go after. And that plan often got replaced with a more enticing offer to go out for drinks or dinner. That's why, a few years ago, I made a commitment to myself to better prioritize my health. This meant not just making time to fit in workouts, but finding what type of workout I actually enjoyed and wanted to do.
The good old elliptical machine got the job done at the expense of being incredibly, undeniably boring. Reading while elliptical-ing helped, but I needed to change things up, add something more to the routine. What I crave in a workout is likely the result of a lifetime of dance classes and competitions. Goal-oriented group lessons, new challenges with each class, the chance to keep building on strengths—these are the things that make a workout satisfying.
I was first introduced to yoga back in college. A course where I get to stretch and write a journal for credit? Yes, please. It was way more challenging than I expected physically, and mentally, the benefits surprised me. Every time I left a class, I just felt better. Focused, energized, and all-around good. Fast forward a few years, when I eventually put two and two together that this was my workout solution: a consistent yoga practice.
When it came to actually bringing this idea to fruition and fitting it into my life, I took a cue from my then boyfriend, now husband. He’s a super-dedicated early morning runner. We’re talking all year long. Ice, snow, and wind of a Boston winter doesn’t stop this guy from getting out there.
Mornings make sense for yoga. The balanced, strong feeling it fills you with is the perfect one to carry through the day. The possibilities for what's ahead seem endless. It’s empowering to have something done before you’re in work mode, too. You’ve accomplished something for yourself before you’re at your desk or in meetings. In a role like mine, focused on creative thinking and articulating thoughts with the right words, yoga helps me start the day with a clear mind.
After 5pm, excuses are so much more likely to pop up. A long day, an unexpected 5:30pm meeting, a happy hour invite, an errand to run on the way home—those don’t exist at 6am. The only reason not to make the morning workout is a valid one: more sleep, please. This one has the solution of getting to bed earlier, which admittedly is easier said than done.
Staying committed to a goal is so much easier when it’s something you’re passionate about. It’s still a struggle for me personally to get up early if what’s ahead is a cardio machine at the gym, and that’s okay. My motivation is strongest when it’s to do the things that make me happy. That’s why, a few mornings a week, you’ll find me on my mat.