I stumbled across this little video on Youtube talking about a study that analyzed the differences between the personalities of morning people and “evening” people. Apparently I am independent, non-conformist, creative, and have problems with authority. No, really? You don’t say? You know what else I am—really freaking tired out of my skull when it’s 5 am and I am staring at my yoga mat.
I’ve been plugging away at the early morning Ashtanga practice, and man—I’m sorry to say it, but it’s wretched! I need to get up at 4:30am if I want to have enough time to practice, eat breakfast, meditate and shower before work. Not only am I stiff as heck that early in the morning, I am just half dead no matter what time I go to bed the night before. It takes me like 3 or 4 hours to really wake up in the morning: classic kapha dosha, baby. I also have horrific allergies at this time of year, so half of my morning practice is spent sneezing, blowing my nose and choking on my own phlegm (more kapha). Sexy! My ego likes the discipline of getting up every morning at 4:30am and being “hardcore” and “dedicated” to my practice; my body loathes and despises it. Last time I checked, yoga was not about waging an internal war with myself. Although I want to practice the traditional Ashtanga method as much as possible, I think my body may not be along for that ride despite my new-found strong desire to respect and honor the teachings of Guruji. I went back to afternoon Ashtanga practice this week and I am having fun with my practice again. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still really hard but I can breathe, so I am happy. I only sneezed once today, which was awesome. My little Slayer Shala is on the first floor of my house, and we don’t use the air on the first floor during the summer. It was 104 today here in Vegas, so I am enjoying the extra heat quite a bit since I am perpetually cold.
Learning to love and be kind to myself–practicing ahimsa in all of my affairs–means being willing to do what’s best for me. Sometimes, that may mean going against the grain. Our whole society is set up for morning people. I have had it drilled into me for my entire life by my mother that I am lazy and undisciplined because I am not a morning person. I am not a lazy person, period. When my parents started going through financial difficulties when I was 15, I worked two jobs in high school and paid my own private school high school tuition so that I could go to a good school. I would sleep a maximum of three hours a night so I could study and still work and take care of my baby brother after school. I was the first person to graduate from college in my family, and I paid for it through scholarship money, loans and working three jobs. Then I worked two jobs once I got out of school. Later, I worked full-time while putting myself through nursing school (we were actually not supposed to work, period). I used to run 3 miles a day and then turn around and go straight to a Bikram class…while in nursing school! Currently I have not one, not two, but four different positions at the small company I work for. So yeah, I think I’m not so lazy. But I am NOT a morning person, and it’s OK. I’m a phlegmy, sleepy, anti-authoritarian, rebellious, independent, hardworking, very cold, night person. Maybe someday I will wake up and suddenly be a morning person, but somehow I doubt it, just like I doubt that I will wake up and suddenly be blonde and blue-eyed. Hey, I think I deserve a cookie for managing to drag myself out of bed at 6 or 7am most days.
I keep thinking of something I read on David Williams’ website:
“First, and foremost, I hope you can learn from me that in your practice, “If it hurts, you are doing it wrong.” Through the years, I have observed that too many people are hurting themselves and hurting others. Yoga practice can be (and should be) pleasant from the beginning to the end. What is important is the mulabandha and deep breathing. With daily practice, it is inevitable that one will become more flexible…I want to show each of you how you can do the Ashtanga Yoga series in a lifelong practice that is a totally pleasant experience. I suspect that when you first saw the practice, you said to yourself, “If I did this, it would be great for me!” So, here you are–you have observed the practice, and you want to continue it. The key is being able to continue practicing Yoga for the rest of your life. From over 30 years of observing thousands of people practicing Yoga, I have realized that those who continue are the ones who are able to figure out how to make it enjoyable. They look forward to their daily practice and nothing can keep them from finding the time to do it. It becomes one of the most pleasant parts of their day. The others, consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously, quit practicing. It is my goal to do everything I can to inspire you to establish your Yoga practice not just for the few days we are together, but for the rest of your life.”