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Pre-Sleep Rituals for Morning Yoga Success

sleep rituals Mar 24, 2024

One of the things I like most about a Mysore practice is that it traditionally happens first thing in the morning. I find my mind quieter in the morning, and there are fewer distractions, allowing me to have a better experience of yoga. But getting up early enough to have a meaningful practice before work, school drop-off, or whatever else you have going on in your day can be challenging. Here’s what you might not realize: Your yoga practice actually starts the night before.

Most of you know the benefits of getting enough rest at night. You’ve also probably heard of the benefits of synchronizing the day/night or light/dark rhythms called the circadian rhythm.

But do you know why going to bed early benefits the body? My friend Annette, an Ayurvedic health coach and Vedic Astrologer, explains that the dominant energy between 10 pm – 2 am is reigned by the subtle energy of Pitta. Before 10 pm is the slow, heavy, replenishing energy of Kapha. When you fall asleep before 10 pm, you get replenished and nourished. The energy at this time of night is more sluggish, so you may find it easier to fall asleep. When you tune into the Kapha time of day, you’ll notice your sleep is sweeter, deeper, and more healing.

Going to bed early can be challenging when the days are long, you get home late, you have things to do after your kids go to bed, or you have an active social life. 

Here are some tips to help you get to bed earlier so you can get up early enough to practice.

Firstly, do your best to maintain a regular sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day. A regular schedule helps regulate your body’s clock and enhance the quality of your sleep. If you are a napper, limit naps to about 20 minutes. Naps decrease the “Sleep Debt” necessary for easy sleep onset. 

Develop a bedtime routine. Obviously, do whatever works best for you, but here are a few suggestions. Take a warm shower or bath about 90 minutes before bed. A hot bath will raise your body temperature, and it is the drop in body temperature that will leave you feeling sleepy. Drink a cup of non-caffeinated or sleepy-time tea. Practice relaxation techniques. I love the guided meditation called Sleep. Rest. Reset. By Sarah Blondin on insight timer. You can listen to it here - and Insight Timer is free if you haven’t tried it!  This brief ritual sends a message to my brain that it’s time to sleep. Warm water, robe, and tea basically cue sleep for me.

Prepare the body for sleep. I quit caffeine and alcohol several years ago, which has dramatically improved my sleep. Now, I will assume you are more fun than me and suggest you cut out caffeine by 3 p.m. The effects of caffeine may last for several hours after ingestion and are known to impair overall sleep quality. I won’t make any suggestions about booze before bed because I don’t want to turn you off to yoga. And I know plenty of people who have a nightly nightcap and make it to practice every day.

Prepare the mind for sleep. I find the best way for me to do this is to make a list of things that I have to do the next day. This helps my mind relax. I also try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before bed. For me, this includes cop shows and TikTok.

Finally, prepare your sleeping area. Remove all gadgets from the bedroom. The bedroom, and more importantly, the bed, is not the place for watching TV, eating, chatting, or working. You want to create a quiet, dark, and cool space to sleep in. I love using the Nodpod for my sleep, though I’ll admit it makes it extra hard to get up. It helps me relax, it keeps my eyes closed, and it keeps the light out. 

If you want to fall asleep fast and wake up feeling good, pay attention to your nighttime patterns and what you automatically do when you get up. Remember, your yoga practice starts the night before. You got this!

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About Jen René

Hey there! I'm a dedicated Ashtanga teacher and fourth series practitioner. I'm also a Pilates enthusiast. I taught my first class in 2005. And since then I have learned lots of amazing tricks that can help you on your own yoga journey.


Connect with Me! @jenreneyoga