My favorite thing about moving to a different part of town: new Targets, new pizza, and new running routes. My least favorite part: saying goodbye to my favorite local fitness studios. But this time, when Matt and I recently moved into our new crib on the other side of Charlotte, it wasn’t too tricky for me to find my new go-to yoga spot. In fact, Enlighten Yoga practically fell into my lap because it is less than a mile from my front door.
So since I really had no excuse not to snag a membership, I signed up for five $10 Hot Yoga classes to get my feet wet. I took a peek at the schedule, which offered four $10-class time-slots (6:00a, 12:30p, 7:10p, 8:20p) and picked my poison. Given that: 1) I wasn’t ready to sacrifice my precious lunchtime, 2) I definitely wasn’t going to postpone my precious dinnertime, I really only had one option: become a sunrise yogi.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not one of those folks who wakes up to a crack-of-dawn alarm with a beaming smile on my face. In fact, I’m more of a pull-the-covers-over-my-head-and-pretend-I-didn’t-hear-it kinda gal. But each time I crawled out of bed for a 6am sweat, I began to love it. And every time I resisted the snooze button, I discovered a new reason why waking up before the rest of the world to downward dog was absolutely the best thing I did that day.
1. Those early flows give you all the feels.
Bless my fellow classmates who keep a straight face when I step into the studio, because I’m usually rockin’ unbrushed hair, bloodshot eyes, and a mismatched ensemble. (Like I said, I am not a morning person.) But I swear, once class is over and I step outside, you would think I’m an entirely different person. Sure, my shirt may still be inside out, but I’m beaming with energy and practically skipping to my car.
See, the #1 reason I keep coming back for more is the incredible endorphins I get from these early flows at Enlighten. When I leave, I feel refreshed, reenergized, and truly at peace. I gain the energy to tackle a 9-hr workday and I feel mentally prepared to take on whatever evils my inbox may hold. And it’s like no matter what kind of stress came with me to class, the zen vibes in the room erase all my worries. My last-minute project deadlines can’t touch me after that hard-earned savasana.
2. Pillow to plank is the best way to wake up.
I swear, 28 has been the age of aches ‘n pains for me. It could be the crappy pillow I’ve been sleeping on, but every morning I wake up with a crick in my neck and a super tight back. I’ve tried a few toe touches and even swapping my desk chair for a yoga ball, but nothing wakes my body up like some hot yoga before breakfast.
Deep stretches, Ujjayi breathing, and inversions are textbook ways to get your blood flowing. Plus, they are a much more gentle way to get you going compared to other high-impact workouts like running. I mean, call me crazy, but waking up early for a 1-hour class of yoga just seems a bit more appetizing than a 5-mile run. Amirite? (My favorite teacher Stacy always starts us things off slowly with heart bench, which feels ahhhmazing.)
3. Namastay away from those fries.
Show of hands: who else is less likely to stuff their face with junk food after they’ve clocked a hearty workout? Because when I step out of an early morning yoga class, I think twice about reaching for a bowl of Lucky Charms when I get home. I am much more inclined to fuel my body with nutrition after a sweat than I would be if I hit snooze. And usually, once I get my workout in bright ‘n early, I usually stay on track with making those healthy choices throughout the day as well. (Well, that is until 8pm comes around and Halo Top starts screaming my name…)
4. Early bird gets the workout.
Lately, I’ve been guilty of letting my workouts slip through my schedule. A busy work life, an attention-crazy puppy, and a never-ending new house to-do list always seem to trump my exercise plans. So if I don’t squeeze in a workout before 12 pm, I can pretty much say sayonara to a sweat for that day.
But every time I sign up for my Thursday morning downward dog date, I can rest assured that my me-time is locked in. And by the time the rest of the world has woken up, I’m grinning from ear to ear because I’ve already gotten my workout done for the day. ✓
5. Early bird also gets the best sunrises around.
I mean, is there a better way to start your day than with a well-deserved savasana followed by a hot pink sunrise waiting for you when you step outside of the studio? I DON’T THINK SO. I’m trying my best not to take these candy-colored skies for granted!
So set your alarms folks! I promise you won’t regret it. And if you’re in the Charlotte area, venture on over to Enlighten in Blakeney and tell them Nathalie sent you.