Mornings can be rough. Although I’ve never been a very late riser, I still enjoy taking my sweet time in the morning.
Making it to Mysore on time can be a bit of a challenge some days. To be fully honest, I’m not sure I would have stuck with Ashtanga Yoga this long if I didn’t have a partner in crime coming in to check on me after I’ve hit the snooze button (my husband is much more disciplined than I, waking up at least half an hour earlier so he has time to chant his rounds. Goody yoga two shoes!).
When my alarm crickets and chirps at what feels like the crack of dawn I feel more like this….
But, all that said, there’s something fantastic about getting up and starting the day with a full yoga practice. Morning practice sets the tone for the entire day. Even though it can sometimes be the hardest part of my day, I still think that’s kind of great. I mean, the roughest patch happens before breakfast, so then I’m clear to go about my life, smooth sailing. Sweet.
Getting up for practice is worth it – always. Starting your day in a conscious and breath-centered way is amazing preventative medicine for so much of what can ail us throughout the rest of the day.
Over the years, I’ve developed some tricks and routines that help me get started in the morning feeling my best.
Here are my tips for getting up and going, yogi style:
1. Don’t jolt your dome by jumping right out of bed when the alarm goes off.
Take a few moments to breathe and gently open the eyes. Take a little stretch. When you are ready to get up, roll over, sit up slowly, press your feet into the ground and take a breath or two sitting up before rising to stand. Give your brain a chance to adjust to being upright after many horizontal hours. This sounds wonky, but seriously, don’t jolt your cranial fluid. It ain’t good for you.
2. Smile and think some good thoughts.
Spend a moment before opening your eyes with a positive thought. Out of habit, I employ one of the common Kundalini Yoga affirmations, “I am bountiful, I am blissful, I am beautiful. I am healthy, I am happy, I am holy.” I say these words in my head with a smile on my face. Somedays I even say, “Today is going to be a very very good day.” Honestly, it makes me feel better about getting up when I have already decided that it’s going to be worth it. You are your thoughts – start off on the right foot!
3. Scrape, brush, scrub and get your chill on.
My bathroom routine is essential for my getting out the door feeling ready for practice. I scrape my tongue, splash my face with cold water, brush my teeth and then do a quick full body brush with my dry brush. This is very energizing and great for the skin. Then I take a freezing cold shower (even in winter, crazy, I know) starting with my feet and then moving upwards, making sure I get the back of my neck and armpits (no hair, just face). Cold showers get your juices flowing! The cold water dilates the blood vessels and helps flush the blood through your body. I love my cold showers and take them everyday unless I am on my moon or am feeling under the weather.
4. Be prepared for what’s coming – don’t make your brain have to work too hard too soon.
Set out your yoga clothes the night before or at least have them picked out and easily accessible. Have your keys handy. Remember your sunglasses for the post-practice glare. Don’t make life too complicated before your first surya namaskar.
5. Yoga first. Everything else come later.
Do not, I repeat, do not check your email, get on facebook/twitter/instagram or anything like that before practice if at all possible. I do not open my computer or even turn on my phone until I get home from practice. I know this isn’t feasible for all people, but since I don’t normally have pressing family or business concerns to attend to first thing, I find it helps me keep my mind more clear for practice if I stay unplugged until breakfast. I also don’t engage in the pre-practice ritual for many Ashtangis of coffee or tea. I am not a coffee drinker, and tea on a empty stomach is rough on me. I will have a sip or two of water some mornings, but mostly I try to be as empty as possible so that my practice is not interrupted with pee breaks.
And that is what works for me. This might not be the magic charm for all people, but I’ve found that with this routine, I can be up and out the door in 20 minutes, ready for a good long sesh on the yoga mat.
Are you a morning person or not? What helps you get going when the sun comes up?
Love and Blessings,
♥ Frances ♥