By: Natasha Eziquiel-Shriro
Don’t let the energy of summer, planetary retrogrades, and a thousand degree heat wear you out -- use your morning routine to create balance and set the tone for your day.
How do you like to start your day? Do you hit snooze a couple of times and try to pretend like it isn’t time to get out of bed? Mindlessly grab your phone and start filling your thoughts with social media updates or the latest news? Get up, stretch and get ready for a quick morning workout?
Whatever your habit is now, there’s a good chance you could add something to it to energize your body, create a calm mental space, and prepare yourself for a more successful day ahead. If you leave it up to chance, then it’s likely you’re missing a wonderful opportunity to better nurture and nourish yourself.
If you are able to spend a couple hours (or even a couple of minutes!) doing something you’ve committed to doing in the morning, you are starting your day with intention and purpose. What does that translate into? Self-care, self-love, and an empowering sense of accomplishment that can carry into whatever it may be you have on deck.
The elements of a morning routine should be simple and easy to follow. Rather than cause yourself stress, the idea is to avoid any stress that comes with rushing into the day. Being mindful of those first moments after waking can for many reasons feel like a luxury, but it is also an affordable and entirely reasonable experience, assuming you pick practices that speak to you.
From a few minutes of meditating, to writing two pages in your journal, going for a walk, or making a light breakfast, there are many things you can do aside from give the time to other people’s priorities first thing in the morning. Rather than beginning your day already depleted, a healthful and relaxing morning routine can help to powerfully align your mind and body.
Bringing together the body, mind, and spirit is a foundational concept in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda, which means “knowledge of life,” is a thousands of years old holistic healing system originating in India. The art and science of Ayurveda emphasize bringing balance to all bodily systems through diet and lifestyle practices, with respect for each individual’s unique make-up and needs.
There is no need to go full-on yogi to experience some of the benefits of Ayurveda. Here are three simple things you can do to elevate your morning routine based on its wisdom:
Full Body Oil Massage. Doesn’t that sound really nice? Abhyanga, the practice of regular self-massage with oil, is used in Ayurveda to tone the skin and muscles, as well as calm the mind. If you can spare a few minutes in the morning, or even 20 minutes, massaging your body with an organic oil, it can do wonders to help increase circulation, enhance natural detoxification, and gently stimulate the senses. Learn more about Abhyanga here.
One tip with these massages is to let the oil sink into your skin. Be sure to do this 5-15 minutes before showering or getting dressed, in order to enjoy the full benefits.
Tongue and Cheek Treatments. In Ayurveda, oral care, along with care for the rest of the digestive system, is given great attention. In addition to stimulating and clearing your body with a cup of warm water first thing in the morning, the Ayurvedic practices of oil pulling and tongue scraping, both of which help to remove bacteria and toxins from the mouth, are easy to add to any morning routine.
Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of oil, like coconut, olive, or sesame, in the mouth for about one minute before spitting out, taking care to not swallow. This is believed to protect gum health, keep teeth whiter, and freshen breath.
After the oil pulling and regular brushing, use a tongue cleaner to remove any buildup on the tongue. Bonus, this may help get rid of chronic bad breath and improve sense of taste.
Breathe, Stretch, Shake. Yes, you slept in a cramped position because your dog/cat/partner/child took over the bed. Yes, your posture is misaligned from staring at screens. And yes, you carry that heavy bag to work. Every. Single. Day. It shouldn’t take an actual gym workout to remind us that we are constantly using our bodies, and because of that, we need to take time to breathe deeply and stretch regularly.
In Ayurvedic practice, daily breathing exercises called pranayama are used to balance the flow of oxygen, stimulate mental clarity, and relax the body. You can do Pranayama Lite by giving two minutes of your morning to basic deep breathing. Think you don’t have time or won’t remember? Try catching yourself when you reach for your phone to check Twitter/IG/Facebook, and make a conscious choice to put the device down and get your oxygen on instead.
And stretching. While some of us are flexing that yoga lifestyle and body, not everyone may be ready to add yoga poses, also called asanas in Ayurveda, to our mornings. Even so, taking five minutes to stretch from head to toe does wonders to help slow down the pace of the day, focus the mind, and shake out any knots and tender spots that deserve attention.
Planning for your morning routine is all about you, where you are at now, and where you see yourself in the not-so-distant future. It may sound like a lot to add some of these to your day, or to even get to the point where you’re not rushing out of bed, into the shower, and out the door. But developing (or expanding) a balanced morning routine can happen one practice, and one day at a time.