Guest post: Why practice at 4 a.m.?

We’ve got another guest post from Kate O’Donnell in Mysore. If you followed our linking to her last week you may have seen it. If not (and if so), take a look again. It’s one of those issues for Ashtanga practitioners. Kate can be found online here, and she has been addressing another big topic: Ashtanga fashion (aka short shorts).


Why take practice at the Godly hour of 4 a.m.?  Wake-up call 2:30?

Well, the question brings us to the Hindu concept of Brahmamahurta.

I like to translate Brahmamhurtha as “God’s Hour.”  I actually began learning about it more through my Ayurveda studies, as some spiritual therapies are likely to be administered in these early morning hours.  Wikipedia defines the measurement of time as 48 minutes before sunrise, but I’ve heard also 2 hours and 3 hours before sunset, and more specifically 3:30-5:30.

Sharath gets 4-5 hours sleep, he says.  Bedtime probably 7:30-8, for the 1 a.m. wake-up.  That is the bedtime for most of us first-batchers here in Mysore.  Then we lie under the ceiling fan and listen to them make dinner next door.   It is traditional to begin Hindu practices (not for the householder, necessarily, because there are some years when sleep is as important as worship on the hierarchy of family duties) around 2:30.  Gives you 3 hours before the world wakes for the chanting, bathing, ringing of bells, burning of things, and all that is necessary to unite Self and universe (the Union of Yoga).

If its true that nothing is more important to me than my Sadhana, or spiritual works, there is nothing happening after 8 p.m. that interests me anyhow.  Boob tube, bars, French fries, sex.  Oh, but let’s be honest, friends.  The dropping away of worldy desires comes in its own time, and there is no more use rushing it than rushing the gathering of dew.

Present difficulty:  I went from 0-60 in one week here.  From 4:15 to 2:30 a.m. wake up.  That kind of thing takes a few years to ease into.  8PM desires do begin to drop away, but so suddenly, here I am, staunch as can be.  Clackity- clack goes the ceiling fan.

How goes the practice: I’m way stiffer that early.  My bowels are not empty (even if I don’t eat after lunch).  It’s harder to talk to God with all those people around.  I can’t wait to get home and be quiet and alone and take good poops.

BUT.  There is something happening, unbeknownst to us in that room.  We ARE being “charged with powerful electro-magnetic-intelligent carriers” (see Wikipedia)  as we practice together with all the hubbub at 4 a.m..  This is the kind of thing I don’t notice until I get home.  Here, I’m just in it.  Im struggling, I’m stiff, I’m distracted, I’m disappointed in myself.  And I do believe one has natural defenses to guard against too much Shakti too fast (Steve and Bobbie got this one on Yatra, I think).  Stiffness is one defense, mental stiffness included.  My bad attitude about the mornings I do hope will give way to the willingness, the openness, the beauty of the B-Mahurta.


I’ll keep you posted.

By Kate O’Donnell, posted by Steve



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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “Guest post: Why practice at 4 a.m.?”

  1. Never underestimate the spiritual potential of a good poop 😉 I would be in the same boat practicing that early. My sympathies, although I am sure it will be well worth it.

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