by Olya Amburg
Remember how the lightness and joy filled your entire body and mind after you got out of Savasana? What if we could assure you that can feel the same way every morning getting out of bed, and the magic will take just 15 minutes to create!? This magic is possible simply by creating your own morning ritual that focuses on self-care and gratitude, which sets the tone for the day ahead!
The foundation of your ritual can consist of several simple yogic practices that you will learn about in a second. But, first, an important message for you:
We say yoga doesn’t take time, it creates time. This is undeniably true.
However, the practice doesn’t give advances. Therefore, you have to set your alarm clock exactly 15 minutes earlier to complete the ritual. So, if you are ready to sacrifice 15 minutes of snoozing for the most peaceful and satisfying quarter-hour of your day (and the positive repercussions that set you up for a fantastic experience), let’s begin – the night before.
1. Set an Intention
Good news! This important step towards the best day ever is one you can make the night before. Just after closing the eyes and before falling asleep dedicate a moment to briefly assess your day and let go of any negative feelings. Then set an intention for tomorrow: a sentence that sums up your desired experience for the upcoming day. It can be anything from “every step of the day I go with the flow” to a simple “I am light.”
To make the intention even more powerful turn it into a mantra and chant in the mind while falling asleep to program the subconscious for positivity. Repeat this practice with consistency and one morning, instead of having the regular urge to snooze you wake up with a positive intention in mind!
2. Wake Slow-Mo and Express Gratitude
Let’s come back to the magic of Savasana. Why does it feel so sweet to rise up to a seated position after the Corpse pose at the end of a yoga class? Certainly, part of it is the benefit of the completed practice that starts to sink in. However, don’t underestimate the way you exit the pose. Can you imagine a teacher abruptly turning on the light and asking you to jump straight into the Mountain pose and leave the room? Sounds funny, yet oftentimes that is what we are subjecting ourselves to in the morning, rushing into the day like a fox chasing a chicken!
Next time try to treat the wake-up as a transition from a very long Savasana. Feel into the body, move slowly, extend the hands above the head, press yourself up to seated in the bed, gently blink the eyes open. It is likely that your first thought would be the intention you set before falling asleep. If not, get back to it consciously and express the gratitude for the day ahead.
3. Get Rid of the Toxins
While we are sleeping the mind is resting but the body is still working hard. The post sleep crust on the eyes and slight fuzz on the tongue are the signs of toxins or “ama” (an Ayurvedic term for toxins) left in the body that can be absorbed back into the system. Time to wash them away. Head to the bathroom and wash the face with cool water. Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, suggests 7 generous splashes, one for each on the chakras or our energy centers.
Then add tongue scraping to your regular teeth brushing routine. You can get a special tool for that, but a regular spoon would do the job just as fine. Later you might realize that the freshness of the breath lasts much longer. Tongue scraping also wakes up our taste buds, so you can truly appreciate the flavor of your morning cup of joe afterwards.
4. Activate the Body
It would be silly to assume that such a complicated mechanism like a human body wakes up in a fraction of a second. However, there is a way to naturally speed up the process. Start by awakening the gut – aka our ‘second brain’. A glass of warm water with a splash of lemon juice will do the trick. This drink flushes the leftover ama from the body and stimulates proper bowel movement. Next, get yourself to move. No marathon training required. A child’s pose followed by a few sun salutations with necessary modifications make a great combination.
Emphasize matching the breath with the movement and remember that a single Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) completed mindfully is better than ten that are rushed through for a mental check mark.
Once our body and mind are awake, the impulse is to turn the autopilot on and rush into action. Resist the urge and dedicate a few moments to a simple meditation. In case you are afraid of falling back asleep, avoid the Corpse pose. Trade it for an upright position in a chair or Sukhasana (easy seated pose) to let the energy flow freely through the spine. You can simply focus on the breath, chant a mantra or follow a short-guided practice. Take your mind on a little morning journey with a traveling meditation or strengthen your focus with a special wisdom meditation technique.
Bonus: Do What Makes You Happy
This might seal another 5 minutes of the precious sleep, but will add whole a lot of contentment to your day. We are often advised to ‘eat that frog’ first thing in the morning. Indeed, it’s a great feeling to be done with the hardest task of the day before the lunchtime. But would you really be excited getting up to only be served a frog for breakfast? Probably not so much. So, leave the frog for brunch and start your day with an activity that makes you truly happy. Light a candle, sky gaze, read, get creative, do your morning pages or just enjoy a moment of silence and stillness before the day unfolds.
Last, but not least, don’t force yourself to incorporate all 5 steps into your morning ritual from day one. You didn’t go through Vinyasa perfectly in your very first yoga class, right? Just like on the yoga mat, leave room for modifications and adjustments depending on your physical and mental state at the moment in time. Treat the creation of your unique morning ritual not as a final destination, but more so as an exciting journey of self-love and exploration!