September 1, 2021
By employing simple habits as close to the time in which we wake up, we are setting the tone for our entire day with beneficial practices and a sense of calm, rather than habits that cause more damage. Here is set of guidelines to get you going. Choose one or all to add into your morning!
It’s no surprise to me that my first blog post is about creating a healthy, purposeful, and impactful morning routine. This past year and a half has taken a toll on everyone, and I watched as my day-to-day routines altered, along with family, friends, and students, while looking for some sort of stability throughout the pandemic. When we look at living a healthy lifestyle, sometimes the answer is to add in something that will enhance our life, while often times we must ask ourselves what can we get rid of in our day-to-day lives. We are all extremely busy and set in our ways and a morning routine should not feel like another task, but a way to practice habits that benefit you first thing in the morning to help you live with a little more ease. By employing simple habits as close to the time in which we wake up, we are setting the tone for our entire day with beneficial practices and a sense of calm, rather than habits that cause more damage.
When we go to sleep at night our body works quite hard to detoxify from the things we ingested that day. This mainly includes the foods and substances we put in our body to eat and drink, as well as our experiences. Have you ever noticed a white coating on your tongue, crusty’s in your eyes, oily skin, or feeling sweaty when you first wake up? That’s your body cleaning up from the day before. It’s our job to then finish up the cleaning process, so that undigested food does not build up, and we are less likely to get sick. Beyond the physical aspect of a morning routine, waking up with a small set of rituals can set the tone for the rest of your day. Rather than hitting snooze, checking your email or social media while in bed, and rushing out the door while eating breakfast on your commute, what if your morning consisted of actions that left you feeling grounded, energized, and a little more clear minded? This would increase focus, ability to work well, help to get done the things you must get done throughout the day, help you manage stress, and perhaps most importantly give you time for yourself.
We are all different and each of our morning routine’s will look somewhat different. Building in new routines can take time, so experiment with what works for you and what is realistic that you can stay consistent with. Be patient and compassionate towards yourself, and give yourself time to adjust to a new schedule. Rather than thinking of this as a restricted regime, think of it as a way to live a more regulated life, with practices to help set the tone for the rest of your day in the most ideal way. Here is set of guidelines to get you going. Choose one or all to add into your morning!
According to Ayurveda, 6-10am is governed by Kapha dosha. This means that the qualities present by 6am are heavy, dense, and slow. In order to balance those qualities and to live in harmony with nature, try waking up as close to whenever the sun rises. This will change depending on the season. Here on the East coast I tend to wake up earlier in the summer and need an extra 30 minutes of sleep in the winter. Studies have shown that an earlier wake up time will leave you feeling more energized throughout the day.
Most of us would agree that we want to feel calm throughout our day. While this might be impossible to feel all the time with our ever changing emotions and experiences, starting our day calmly can imprint the rest of our day and help at least a little. Try adding in a short meditation to your mornings, or practice breathwork (pranayama). It doesn’t matter how long it is, as consistency is more potent than duration. You will be surprised at how sitting in meditation for one to five minutes can alter how you feel throughout the day. Having trouble adding something into your morning? On mornings I am busy I will do breathwork while still in bed. This makes sure I get some alone time in, and is much healthier than checking my email first thing. I use the free app Insight Timer so I don’t have to check my phone during the practice, but can simply set a timer for as long as I have. If you are looking for a few ideas of breathwork to do, try Alternate Nostril Breathing or Belly Breath, both grounding techniques.
Our body cleans itself out at night. In order to feel refreshed and ready for the day there are a few simple things we can do. To start, empty your bowels first thing. If you have trouble doing this first thing in the morning try drinking a warm glass of water before hand to wake up the system and finish flushing out any undigested food. Second, scrape your tongue and brush your teeth. Have you ever noticed that the white coating on your tongue is thicker first thing when you wake up? That white stuff is considered to be Ama in Ayurveda, which translates as undigested food or toxins. It is normal to have a thin coating on the tongue, but we want to get rid of it before drinking or eating anything. Otherwise we are pushing those toxins back down our GI tract, so do this before you drink that glass of water. Here is a link to the tongue scraper I use: Tongue Scraper. Our eyes are considered to be governed by Pitta dosha, which is comprised of fire and water. This is why sometimes our eyes get irritated and overheated. Each morning splash your eyes and face with cool water. I love to spritz rose petal water on my face each morning and throughout the day to cool off, especially when I know I will be staring at a screen a lot. Make sure to use a spray that doesn’t have any additives. Here’s the brand I use: Rose Water.
When we sleep our bodies are detoxifying and pushing out everything out from that day. As a result we get dehydrated, and want to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Warm water rather than cold helps to clean out the food tube that is in the middle of the body, and also helps to kick start digestion. This does not have to be boiling water, just room temperature. Add a lime or lemon to your water as an extra way to clean out the system or if you are not a fan of drinking it plain.
We want to eat a breakfast that will hold us over until our next meal of the day, lunch. Depending on how hungry you are when you wake up and the season you are currently in, this could be warm oats, buckwheat, toast, fruit, eggs, and more. Eat enough that you don’t need to snack in between meals, and your digestive system can take breaks in between meals to do its job well. If you are a coffee person try to eat something before your first sip of caffeine. This will help to reduce those caffeine jitters, encourage a smooth boost of energy, and will feel much better than putting acidic coffee into an empty belly.
Morning time is when our bodies are the strongest. If you have time, start your day with some movement that you enjoy. Studies have shown that when we do things we enjoy we are more motivated to stick with them. This could include any form of yoga, tai chi, going for a walk around the neighborhood, having a solo dance party to a fun song, or anything else. Ask yourself how much time you have in your morning, and be realistic so that this practice can become a consistent part of your day. If you don’t have much time in your mornings for exercise, try one restorative pose and set a timer for five minutes, or try a few Sun Salutations. The key is that you wake up the body and mind in a way that will leave you feeling energized, while calming the nervous system at the same time.
Feeling overwhelmed? Keep it simple. Choose one thing from the ideas above and begin adding it into your mornings. In a few weeks you might try adding in one more thing. Consider any habits you have that are not serving you and try taking it out in order to make space for this new healthy routine. Check in with yourself and see how these small changes have affected you. You may soon start to see how small changes can create big shifts in our physical and mental health.