Your morning sets the tone for your entire day, which is why it’s important to have some healthy morning rituals in place. The experienced yogi knows this and follows his/her own morning routine for inner and outer well-being. Here are a few tips on how to start your day like a true yogi.
As soon as you rise, take a tablespoon of organic coconut oil and begin swishing it around in your mouth. This is called oil pulling, and you’ll want to do it for 15 minutes. You can leave a jar of oil on your bedside table so it's there first thing. Start swishing and then use the bathroom. Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic health ritual that helps eliminate toxins (known as aama in Sanskrit) from your mouth. These toxins include unwanted bacteria and fungus, which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Oil pulling also makes your teeth whiter and brighter – an added bonus! While this ritual may seem odd at first, you’ll learn to love it. (Read more about The Benefits of Ayurvedic Oil Pulling.)
After using the bathroom, splash your eyes with cold water to invigorate your senses. Then do a few simple things like letting the dog out, brewing a cup of coffee, pouring yourself a large glass of lemon water or making the bed. At this point you can spit the coconut oil out into your trashcan and brush your teeth with a natural toothpaste. Remember, don't swallow the oil!
Drinking Warm Liquids
After you’ve taken care of your teeth, it’s time to take your lemon water and coffee or tea to your meditation cushion. Warm lemon water is a good thing to sip on before anything else because it aids your body in elimination. It supports proper digestion, the cornerstone of good health in Ayurveda. Like oil pulling, it also helps get rid of toxins that have built up overnight. All you need is warm water and a squirt of lemon juice, or a drop of therapeutic grade lemon essential oil. (Learn all about how to do a Lemon Ginger Morning Detox.)
Next comes your precious meditation time. This is one of the most important rituals you’ll do today. Practice a meditation you absolutely love. Perhaps it’s japa meditation with a pretty set of gemstone mala beads. Maybe it’s a guided visualization meditation to bring forth into the world your deepest desires. If you love doing metta meditation, the Buddhist meditation of loving-kindness, practice that. You can even practice something as simple as setting the timer on your phone for 10 minutes and focusing on your breath as you allow the tension in your body and mind to float away. This is your special contemplative time, so savor each moment. (Learn about Meditating With Mala Beads.)
A good way to get prana flowing in the morning is to do a couple of your favorite pranayama breathing exercises. You might consider doing nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) or bumblebee breath. Any pranayama technique will do. Play around to see what feels right during the wee morning hours. (Learn more about The Practice of Pranayama.)
Saluting the Sun
If sitting isn’t your thing, then get outside and salute the sun, just as the yogis of old used to do. This helps attune your body to nature’s circadian rhythms, which will help you to better fall asleep at night. If you’ve got too much energy coursing through your subtle body, opt for a walk in nature or an invigorating yoga practice, like an Ashtanga yoga sequence. Whenever the weather’s nice, make sure you get outside and get some Vitamin D. Some Sun Salutations on a deck or front porch are always a good idea, as is an early morning stroll on a trail or through your neighborhood. (Learn why we Wake Up and Salute the Sun.)
Eating a Healthy Breakfast
After you’ve opened your pranic pathways through some breathing or movement, it’s time to enjoy a healthy breakfast. You probably already know what’s good for you, but a few reminders never hurt anyone! Many yogis like to sip on smoothies. Smoothies are an effective way to get tons of good nutrients into the body. Adding superfoods, like grass-fed whey powder, spirulina or royal jelly to smoothies make the possibilities for a healthy breakfast endless. Play around with color. A green smoothie might include spinach, frozen bananas, almond milk, a little coconut oil and a pinch of chlorella. A purple smoothie might include acai berries, blueberries, almond milk and almond butter. In colder months, a warm bowl of oatmeal with walnuts, cinnamon, almond milk and a drizzle of raw honey is a nourishing treat. Keep breakfast simple and nutritious because, just like your other morning rituals, it sets the eating tone for your day.
Laying the Foundation
These morning rituals are the foundation for self-care. Choose the ones you have time for and don’t worry if you can’t enjoy them all every day. The important thing is to choose a few that support your health and that you intuitively know will make the biggest positive impact in your life. Make them fun and they will easily become sustainable habits. (Read on in A Morning Routine for Conscious Living.)