How To Use Yoga To Drastically Improve Your Mornings
Your alarm goes off, you hit the snooze button one too many times, roll out of bed (eventually), and immediately connect to your digital devices. You rush through your morning, barely stopping to breathe, and then head off to work.
If you can relate, you might notice that when the day starts on a hectic note, the same vibes reverberate into the rest of the day, creating multiple experiences of physical or mental unease and discomfort.
If you are not one of these people, you might recognize how important it is to start your day with ease, care, and attention in order to move a little bit more smoothly throughout the day. You may notice how reactions soften and how it feels more accessible to take clear, appropriate action in ways that are more truthful to your values and yourself.
Most of us are probably interested in having a really great day—or at least a really nice morning—as often as possible, right?
Mindful morning practices are important for everyone and anyone, not because we all need to live like or become zen masters but because it's a way to be nice to ourselves.
When we are thoughtful, it's more natural to extend that kindness to others. Especially if we rarely take time for ourselves in the morning, it can be a powerful shift to begin each day with affection and appreciation for our minds, bodies, and the day ahead.
When we do begin the day in this way, with a mindful approach to ourselves and the opportunities ahead, we learn to pay more attention to ourselves and others throughout the entire day. How we start the morning is an extension into the remainder of the day. If we want to have a smooth 24 hours, it is only natural that it starts the moment we wake up.
The first sutra in the philosophical teachings of yoga translates to "now is the practice of yoga," which goes far beyond flowing through a series of stretches, backbends, and so on. Simple enough, yet how often do we allow ourselves to be in the now, to witness and observe openly without judgment or cloudy vision? We can apply the same principles to how we wake up in the morning and begin the first few moments of being awake, aware, and alive.
Here are seven very simple ideas inspired by the mindfulness practices of yoga philosophy to incorporate into your morning routine and begin the day on a mindful note:
1. When you wake up, place a hand on your heart, chest, or belly.
Say hello to yourself and give thanks that you have woken up to another unique human experience.
2. Envision your day.
In yoga, it is important to practice paying attention to the present moment. You can keep your hands at your heart or in a mudra in order to anchor your awareness to the moment while you visualize how you want your day to unfold.
3. Practice yoga.
Whether in bed, on a mat, or in whatever space you have, take a few simple stretches to open up your body and prepare for the day. Even if it's just a simple twist on your back in bed, or postures for the arms sitting upright at the edge of the bed—like gomukhasana or garudasana—or just a big, good morning stretch with the arms overhead when you stand up, all of these are a way of taking time for yourself and your body, for however long you have time to do so.
4. Drink water and chew your food.
Whether it's good old H2O or hot water with lemon, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Enjoy breakfast without distraction if and when possible. If you do have to check email at your desk during breakfast, at the very least take a few pauses to chew thoroughly, taste your nourishing food, and breathe calmly.
5. Choose food for breakfast that will fuel you up instead of drag you down.
Whether you eat within one hour of waking up like some theories suggest or simply wait until you are hungry, listen to your body and respond accordingly. Eat enough to hold you over until lunch, and take it easy on pounding caffeine to avoid potential oncoming energy crashes later on. Opt for fresh ingredients that you can pronounce, and do your best to avoid excess sugar.
6. If possible, wait a while before plugging into cyberspace.
Consider meditating, journaling, or stretching before going down the interweb rabbit hole, and enjoy being with yourself, doing things for yourself in your own way and on your own time, with only yourself to answer to. Even if it's just deep breaths before getting out of bed, take those precious moments to be with yourself, just as you are.
Peace, love, and mindful mornings.