Morning is one of the most auspicious times of the day to provide our bodies and brains with nourishment essential to perform at optimal levels. Self-nurturing acts such as a warm shower before practice, mediation, or simply deep breathing contribute to overall wellness and may start each day in a more positive manner. Such routines are very much a part of the ancient yoga practices.
Here are some suggestions and ideas that have helped me start my day in a in a way that is both soothing and energizing. Although these are beneficial for morning, you may practice them anytime you need to feel at peace or refreshed. Some of these suggestions have been given to me by Dr. Naomi Huang ND owner of Laurel Tea Company and Holistic Lifestyle Wellness Specialist.
Before Bed – Set out a glass of water beside your bed and drink it upon rising. The point is to replenish fluids and stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, while also encouraging the first morning elimination of waste. Some people add a squeeze of fresh lemon, which is nutritious and helpful, though not strictly necessary.
Rest – Though the yoga tradition specifically addresses waking up with a variety of rituals, the real trick is to begin by going to bed early the night before. Sleep is essential for the body. This permits your body ample time to go through its natural renewal process. If you are not able to rest sufficiently practice restorative postures such as legs up the wall.
When You Rise – As you wake up take a moment to observe your breath. Once you’re feeling awake, visit the bathroom to empty your bladder and, if it comes naturally to you at this hour, your bowels. Scraping the tongue is said to remove ama, the toxic residue that builds up overnight. Do this regularly as part of your morning wash-up and tooth-brushing and it may help make morning elimination a natural part of your daily routine.
Practice – Enjoy a daily ritual such as prayer, mediation or hatha yoga practices which calm and connect you to your essential nature. Even if you don’t have time for a full asana practice, it’s a good idea to stretch your muscles with a little yoga — such as a sun salutation — and to practice deep breathing. Meditation can be quite simple such as sitting quietly and connecting to the breath. A breathing technique that nurtures balance and instills mindfulness such as alternate nostril breath can help you ground you for the day ahead. Here’s how to do it: Begin by using your right thumb to gently press your right nostril closed. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your left nostril. Press your left nostril closed with your right ring and little finger, removing your thumb from your right nostril. Exhale slowly and thoroughly through your right nostril. Then inhale through the right nostril and exhale through the left. Alternate between nostrils for about five minutes.
Self Care – Take time to nourish yourself in a way that supports your well being. This can be a basic self care ritual such as a warm shower with aroma therapy, a cup of tea, dry skin brushing or other practices (sadhanas) such as hatha yoga exercises.
Eat Breakfast- The most vital meal of the day is breakfast. Sit down and enjoy a nutritious breakfast which includes protein. Focus on the nourishing ritual, rather than watching the news, reading the paper or eating while you get ready or drive. Foods containing essential fatty acids (nuts and seeds), vitamin C (fruits and vegetables), and anti-oxidants (green tea) also provide your body and brain with the fuel necessary to perform at optimal levels. Eat in a relaxed and mindful way. Pay attention to the natural cycles within your body. Sense the elements of nature within you.
Visualization- In sacred geometry, the circle represents the universe, creation and balance. It is also a symbol of the expansive coming forth from a divine center and the natural beginning and ending of a cycle. Acknowledge, appreciate and honor the beginning and ending of your daily circle. From a peaceful and energized center expand towards the possibilities and joys of each day. Your day is precious!
Allow there to be fluidity around these practices. Be gentle with yourself and start where you are each day. Remember the rituals are tools to simply support you in whatever way you wish to be supported.
Posted by: Dawn Jansen
Join instructor Dawn Jansen for The Art of Daily Practice Workshop this weekend, October 29 & 30. Participants will receive instruction and support to develop simple rituals that complement our fast-paced lives. Several suggestions will be offered both in asana practice and lifestyle to support this individual crafting towards balanced daily living. Whether our day begins or ends with asana, meditation, a pleasant walk, pranayama or a soothing bath, we will explore these self care practices and more. Based on our own unique rhythms we will examine which yoga practices are best for us in order to maintain health and equanimity. Please be prepared to participate in some group discussion and time for journaling. The more concrete steps you take to bring yoga into all the sectors of your life, the more of a peaceful, mindful and joyous life you will have.