Whenever my training transitions towards endurance goals the first lifestyle change I make doing yoga first thing in the morning. After long days in the mountains nothing works out the kinks and re-sets my mental state as well as 15-30 minutes of restorative yoga as part of the awakening process.
It’s something I’m sure would be good to do all the time but I always get out of the habit in winter and, especially since its filled with a lot of strength training, come spring I’m always fairly stiff. I do some amount of yoga all year and stretch after training sessions but there’s something about the ritual of morning yoga that helps my mindset switch into another gear.
The change is also physical. Yoga helps your body balance out, especially when it’s taking a beating getting used to transitioning for hour long gym sessions to many hours of pounding under the sun in the backcountry. Done first things in the morning it sets the stage for another hard day. When I wake up I’ll often feel stiff and sore. My breathing might be slightly labored and my mind clogged. A few minutes into yoga, without fail, I my breathing relaxes, head clears, and muscles come back to life. The rest of the day is always improved.
I’ve been doing this long enough that I generally make up my own routines. But once in a while, like when I’m first getting back into the habit, I’ll pop in the old go-to video Rodney Yee’s AM Yoga (note objective tone of ‘the Dope since Yee is not one of our trainers). Yee is the kind of calming yoga teacher you want first thing in the morning. His serene demeanor, the faux native-something or other music, the Utah desert setting and the decidedly hippie tone is a perfect symbiosis.
“Morning is a special time,” says Yee as the prelude to his intro that I often still listen to even though I know it by heart. It’s over-the-top, sure, but if it can calm to crazy cattle dogs in the morning I’m sure it’ll work on any human.