Habits have a special meaning for the human body, as any habitual act triggers our body to begin building new pathways. This constant re-construction may pave the way for a healthier mind and body. What’s more, organisms work in a circular manner: days and nights, months, eating and digesting, and so on…That’s why building routines and doing certain activities in a regular manner can have a real impact.
Whether it’s taking a vitamin supplement or learning a new language, you should do it repeatedly. Imagine you’re trying to learn a new language. Would you spend 24 hours trying to study or try to fit in ten minutes each day? First of all, the first option might not be possible. And, you can’t spend all day every day focused solely on one thing. So, it’s best to be consistent in whatever you do and to choose a sustainable practice that best suits your schedule and your life.
There’s been a greater emphasis on morning routines as more and more people struggle to balance their health and productivity. I’ve struggled with brain fog, digestive problems, allergies, and lots of other things at times. And still, I’ve never been a morning person, finding morning rituals very hard or almost impossible to do. With time, I tried a couple simple things so that I didn’t feel so pressured to do something that wasn’t authentic to who I am. Some really worked for me and others I knew were good for my body but didn’t fit into my daily life.
I’ve found it helpful to prepare a couple different morning routines for different time constraints, different moods, and different goals. Once you try and implement one or more of them, you can adjust it to whatever works best for you!
Before getting into the types of routines let me first define some of the fundamental activities you can do every morning and outline their benefits.
While we’re asleep, our body goes into maintenance mode. Our system gets nourishment and goes through processes of elimination and detoxification. Usually, the presence of mucus in our body is a sign that there’s an impurity that the body will then try to remove through flushing liquids. That’s why we usually wake up with excess mucus in our nose, crust in our eyes, and so on, which are products of the night’s cleaning.
It’s very important to clean such parts of our body upon waking up. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian practice, emphasizes the cleansing of all parts of our body. Ears, nose, mouth cleaning and proper digestion and elimination are so important. Because without a clean and well-nourished filtration system, whatever we take in doesn’t really matter, right? We need to take care of those openings as much as the breath we breathe, the food we eat.
So, here are some things to try first thing in the morning:
Gently wash your face, preferably with cool water. Avoid using any face wash product unless you have a specific condition since your skin produces healthy sebum that covers your face throughout the night.
Clean your mouth properly. Again, in Ayurveda, it’s suggested to do oil pulling, tongue scraping, and brushing the teeth all within the same routine.
Gently clean the eyes. Clean up all the excessive gum around the eyes. You may consider dropping organic and natural rose water as ear drops, or if you’re allergic you can try an wash with green tea or black tea.
You get dehydrated throughout the night since you’re not drinking anything for hours, and your body’s maintenance and cleanse work require a lot of hydration. So, you should hydrate your body to start warming up your systems.
At this point, it’s best to drink water at least as warm as your body temperature. Immediately after waking up, your body is just getting ready and warm to hot water can help to stimulate bowel movements and blood circulation.
Any type of meditative activity can help to set the tone for the rest of your day, believe me! If you already practice, you can sit for a meditation for as long as you need or you can just bring your awareness to your body for a couple of minutes.
Even creating a space and checking in with yourself can help to clear your mind and focus. You may open this space for yourself with questions like, “ How am I feeling this morning?” or, “What do I expect from today?” or, “What’s my intention for today?”. You can write down your answers, speak them aloud, whatever you’re comfortable with… But make sure to build in a little time for some self-awareness before reaching for your phone and diving into the day’s rush with emails and social media.
· Those who need a powerful start to a day, especially for those who get up early and rush to school or work.
· Those who experience gut symptoms like constipation and bloating.
· Those who lack energy and need a boost.
Particularly in autumn or during any changing of the season. You may want to avoid the pranayama piece when it’s warmer out.
Best done before 7 a.m, but you can start the routine anytime you wake up.
If you’re currently dealing with intense emotions like anger or hate, it may be a good idea for you to avoid this routine. Additionally, it’s not suitable if you’re navigating things like high blood pressure, heartburn, stomach pain, diarrhea, and other similar health-related symptoms.
-Mouth cleaning and face wash : Adjust this step to your skin type and personal preference. Even basic washing with cool water is enough.
–Drink warm to hot water: According to your personal preference, you can add lemon juice, a little bit of honey, or organic apple cider vinegar. The warmer the better depending on your comfort levels.
-Move your body: Keep this step as active as possible. If you are into yoga, do 5 to 10 rounds of Sun Salutation. Or perhaps you can play your favorite songs and dance. Otherwise, you could pick your favorite cardio moves like jogging in place or jumping jacks and create a 5-minute session. If those don’t appeal to you, you can also try dynamic body stretching.
-Breathwork: The fire breath, Kapalbhati, can create movement and raise the temperature around your core so that your digestion gets fired up. Your body gets saturated with oxygen and then you begin to expel carbon dioxide very very rapidly. As a result, all tissues are filled with oxygen and your blood circulation increases. In the long term, this can support your immune system and give you lots of energy. Or, energetically speaking, this helps to “increase your fire element”.
If you don’t like it, you may choose one of the other energy boosting breathing exercises.
-Do anything that vibrates your body: Play an energetic song and shake your body by grounding the feet firmly and letting go of all the tension in your joints. Just start with a slow springy motion, then let your body do whatever it wants to do. You can also make sounds while shaking, but don’t push it. If it comes natural, let it all go!
If you don’t feel comfortable with shaking, you may sing loudly if you have the space to do that. Other options are jumping, bone tapping, or dry brushing your body to stimulate the nervous system.
-Shower (optional): Some people don’t like to shower in the morning, but for this type of routine, it can sometimes be a good finisher. Instead of a proper shower, you can just rinse off quickly. The key here is to turn the water to cold for as long as you can tolerate it. You could try starting with ten seconds, let’s say, and gradually increase it at the end of your normal warm shower.
Note: You may feel the urge to eliminate your bowels between any steps in this routine. You may add it between any step or directly after waking up if you have this habit already.
Anytime of the year or to be used during summer for those who find the energizer routine too intense in the warmer seasons.
Doesn’t matter. This often works best for those with a more flexible schedule like freelancers or those who work from home.
If you’re currently experiencing brain fog, lethargy, or having a hard time waking up, this routine may not be suitable for you. Additionally, those who have a slow metabolism or any other symptoms leading to sleepiness should avoid it. Otherwise, all steps are safe for nearly everyone.
– Mouth cleaning & face wash as seen in the Energizer Morning Routine.
– Write It Down: Write down whatever comes to you first thing in the morning before starting any type of activity. You could reflect on your emotions, clear some meaningless chatter from your mind, or set intentions for the day. The key is to not “perform”. Make sure that no one else reads what you write. This practice is to help you clear your mind, so don’t hold anything back. See if you can start by writing one full page. Anything counts! Even if you write, “I’m so bored and I don’t want to write,” over and over again.
– Alternating Nostril Breathing: Do this balancing breathing exercise for 5-6 minutes to calm the mind and relieve your nervous system. Doing this technique after properly cleaning your nose with a suitable tool like neti pot or nasal cleaning kits can give you the best results. Also, if you have allergies or a runny nose for any reason, you can apply mint or eucalyptus oil with coconut oil or ghee to help moisturize your nasal passages.
– Mindfulness Meditation (10-20 minutes) : Pick any mindfulness technique within your practice or start by observing your breath and just letting your thoughts come and go.
– Compassion & Inspiration Practice : Think of something that inspires you, or something you’re compassionate about. That could be an object or a person or a pet. It could be a beautiful leaf or something that evokes a pleasant memory. You can focus on this object or person and give thanks, expressing your gratitude to them, or you can focus on the good feelings that they evoke within you. Or, you can write down your emotions and what kind of good vibe this object brings. Now, you’re ready for the day!
“Ayurveda” comes from “ayur,” meaning “life,” and “veda,” meaning “knowledge.” So, this knowledge of life is a holistic approach that asks us to live according to our body’s constitution. For Ayurveda, there are different body types (doshas) and everyone should eat, behave, and live their daily life according to their type. This is a generic routine but there are slight differences for the different doshas.
Anytime of the year.
Ideally, around 5 AM, before the sun rises or when the sunrise occurs, depending on the region and the season.
In Ayurveda, every person’s body and character is unique. The aim is to live in coherence with our natural tendencies and with our environment. This is done not only through these rituals but also through how you nourish your body or how you behave in daily life. So this specific routine is pretty safe to do for everyone, however if you’re not into holistic philosophies and you don’t want to dedicate this much of your time, you may want to skip this one!
– Clean your tongue: With a proper tongue scraper, preferably a copper one, clean your tongue. This will remove residue of the previous day’s digestion from the mouth.
– Brush your teeth: Choose a durable toothbrush and softly brush your teeth, making sure you clean the gums without being too harsh.
– Oil pulling: Oil pulling is almost the same as gargling with mouth-wash, but instead you use natural oils. You can choose sesame oil, coconut oil, olive, or sunflower oil. Sesame oil is known for its benefits when it comes to teeth and gut health. Also, coconut oil is one of the most preferred options. You may want to check your Ayurvedic dosha type and pick one according to it.
– Clean the ears, nose, and eyes.
– Drink warm to hot water: This should get your systems going and initiate bowel movements.
– Eliminate: It’s very important to eliminate your gastrointestinal tract regularly according to Ayurveda. If you don’t already do this, you should go and sit on the toilet at the same time every day after or between any of the steps below.
– Self-massage: Self massage, known as abhyanga, is a very pleasant way to get connected with your body and to wake up and moisturize your skin. Choose an oil making sure you like its smell and texture so that you can enjoy the process. It can be a mixture but make sure it’s completely natural and refined. Sesame oil or coconut oil are options as well but it’s best to check your dosha and decide accordingly. You should warm the oil a little before applying it.
Massage every part of your body from your head all the way down to your toes, adjusting the pressure according to your own sensitivity. For more sensitive parts like the chest, tummy, or armpits try circular motions. Wait for at least 10 minutes for your body to soak up the oil. You can listen to some calm music or open the windows for some fresh air while you wait.
-Bathing: With warm water and after you’ve allowed the massage oil to sink in, your pores will be open. A gentle rinse will cleanse any excess oil, leaving a gentle, protective layer of moisture on your skin.
-Meditate: Sit for a meditation for at least 15 minutes. You can do this between the massage and the bath if you’d like.
-Exercise: This may seem odd to you since you’ve already showered, right? According to Ayurveda, after the body gets warm and the blood begins to circulate, it’s the best time to exercise. Whether it’s yoga or other movement types, make sure to activate your muscles everyday.
-Breakfast: Now you are ready for nutrition! Make sure to have a nutritious, balanced first meal. It’s best to eat warm and easily digestible rich meals like porridges with herbs and fruits and nuts. Enjoy it!
Do any of these routines appeal to you ? Which ones would you try? If you do so, please share your experience with us in the comments below!