What is a morning ritual? A morning ritual is a series of habits, acts, or practices, usually completed in the same order, day after day. And these rituals are vitally important–the way we begin our morning sets the tone for the rest of our day. A calm, relaxed, and nourishing morning ritual may empower you to deal with the inevitable challenges you’ll encounter, reducing stress, increasing productivity, and helping you live more intentionally. And getting out of bed is a lot easier when you have something to look forward to! Developing a morning ritual is a very personal thing, and one that evolves over time to be responsive to your needs. This blog post is a window into my current morning ritual that will hopefully inspire you to develop your own.
Sometimes I do a few yoga poses before I even get out of bed, slowly introducing movement and stretching to my body after hours of sleep. This morning sequence will help you transition from sleep to awake and make it easier to get out of bed.
Apanasana: hug your knees into your chest and gently roll from side to side
Happy Baby: hands come to the insides or outsides of your feet as you bend your knees, bringing them wider than your torso. Soles of the feet face the ceiling as you lengthen your tailbone down to the mattress. You can rock from side to side.
Supine Twists: extend your arms out to the sides in a t shape as you hug your knees into your chest. Let your knees fall over to the right side as you look over your left shoulder. Ground down through your shoulders, and use your right hand to press your knees closer to the mattress.
Bridge: let your arms rest by your sides as you bend you knees and place your feet flat on the mattress. Gently push your hips up toward the ceiling, pressing down through your hands.
Fish: while lying flat on your back, bring your hands underneath your hips, palms down to the mattress. Lift your heart and chest above your shoulders (think pushing from your bra strap area) and stretch your head back.
Seated Forward Fold: sit up, extending your legs in front of you. Inhale to lengthen your spine, then exhale as you fold forward, reaching for your shins, ankles, or toes.
Child’s Pose: sitting up, bring your sit bones to your heels, pausing for a few breaths in virasana (hero’s pose). Push back into child’s pose, keeping your legs together or taking your knees as wide as your hips. Arms can extend over head, using your hands to push your sit bones a little closer to your heels.
Choose Your Beverage
For years I’ve heard about the benefits of drinking warm lemon water first thing (before eating) in the morning. This hasn’t been natural for me as I’m always ravenous when I wake up and want to go straight to eating breakfast. However, I’ve had more success with this practice since I started squeezing the juice of half a lemon into a cup of water the night before. Then I just microwave it for 90 seconds and drink it while I prepare my breakfast. Another option is to add a drop of Young Living Lemon Vitality essential oil to a cup of water. You can even drink it at room temperature if you prefer. So what’s the big deal about warm water and lemon? Some sources maintain that lemon water supports the body in the following ways:
-prevents urinary tract infections
-boosts your immune system and fights off infections (all that vitamin C!)
-reduces inflammation in your body
-cleanses the liver
-promotes weight loss
-boosts brain and nerve function
Read more here!
Leave Your Phone Alone and Start the Day with Intention
I try hard to not check my phone when I wake up in the morning. As soon as I do, the outside world intrudes and I get drawn into social media and get distracted by emails. Instead, as I eat breakfast, I write down five things I’d like to complete during the day. Taking the time to write down your goals for the day takes them from abstract to concrete, increases your accountability, and makes it more likely that you will actually accomplish them. And goals don’t need to be about housework or your job…including goals such as drinking water, pausing to breathe when you feel stressed, or going for a walk at noon make your self-care and wellness a priority. Mel Robbins’ book, The Five-Second Rule, has some excellent tips for how to start your day off without distraction and get more accomplished.
Move Your Body
Next I head to my yoga mat with a cup of tea in hand. My morning yoga practice always begins with oracle cards and an inspirational reading. Currently, I love these oracle cards–I find them really helpful in setting an intention and gaining insight into what’s going on in my life at the moment.
Next, I move on to breathing exercises, joint mobility series (learn more here), cat/cow, child’s pose, some gentle twists and side body stretches, and sun salutations. Sun salutations are wonderful for warming the body and working nearly every muscle group. After my sun salutations, I do a combination of flow sequences and yin-style poses depending on what my body needs. In order to move forward with my practice, I try to work on a pose that is challenging for me. I find that by practicing it daily, I see a lot more growth and feel like I’m getting somewhere in my practice. Since I’m a yoga teacher, I usually make up my own sequences. If you’re not comfortable with that, an online class might be a better option for you. See this post for free online yoga resources.
To conclude my practice, I sit in meditation for a few minutes. Meditation can be tough as my mind always wants to fast forward to the day ahead and everything I need to do. I meditate by focusing on my breath, drawing my wandering mind back to my inhale and exhale. Then I open my eyes, ready to begin my day…always feeling stronger, calmer, and more quietly energized than when I got out of bed.
Developing a morning ritual that feeds your soul is an important part of being the best person you can be each day. What works for you might be completely different from what I’ve described in this post, but that’s the beauty of rituals such as these. You can tailor them to fit your needs at that point in your life, and watch them grow and evolve as you do.