My morning ritual routine
1. Drink water
3. Drink coffee (I have moved to decaf!)
4. Walk with Roni the yogi dog
5. Asana/Fitness training
6. Green Smoothie
When I read the above list I can’t quite believe that this is now my morning routine and I have sustained it for the last 6 months! This schedule makes me very happy and completely sets me up for the day. I actually get excited to get to bed early so I can get up in the dark mornings and complete this routine.
Over the years of studying yoga I’ve read about the importance of morning ritual but never quite been able to achieve the beneficial and worthwhile routine I yearned for.
Can I just say this has taken around 9 years to get off the ground. First I dreamed of being that bright morning person, out jogging and yoga done by 9am, I tried and failed..many times…I gave up…then tried again and failed again then, finally, in my 44th year, I decided to get serious, put in the hard work and get on with it. Not to say I wasn’t working hard to achieve a good start to the day before but our levels of discipline, determination and drive change over time, especially when you practice yoga.
As my yoga practice evolved and developed on and off the mat it became more apparent how essential the morning routine is for the yogini.
I had my priorities in a different order before. Not saying one way is right and one is wrong but getting up in the dark to meditate just didn’t seem as inviting as one more drink at the party or one more episode of Game of Thrones (especially when Winter was coming! ). I convinced myself I was a natural night owl from my years as a professional dancer, dancing in late night shows on stage and I admit there’s also been years of dancing in night clubs for fun too!
Now I have trained myself to be an early riser I feel more in my natural state than ever before. Often, but not always, I feel grounded, calm and confident as I navigate through the daily tasks because I’m living more in my truth and practicing what I preach.I feel I have more integrity when I’ve started the day the right way. Quite amazing to have all these positive feelings from simply changing my morning routine.
I actually look forward to waking up and getting up where as in the past I may have gone to bed dreading the morning anxiety and pressing the snooze button for the tenth time.
Achieving this morning routine authenticates that yoga truly is becoming a way of life. There is of course, a process to go through and that process is an individual one. Some practitioners may have successfully attained this in their first year of discovering yoga, for some of us it may take longer to accomplish.
It really depends on what samskaras (habitual behaviors) you carry but ultimately
the key is to not give up on it.
The effects of starting the day this way are phenomenal.
The water hydrates and refreshes. The meditation exercises my mind sometimes in the most profound ways. When I look at some meditation teachers who have been meditationg for 50 plus years I absolutely class myself as a beginner. It is only more recently that meditation has become a vital part of my daily practice, asana has always dominated. So I’m intrigued and curious to see where this journey will go once I’ve been practicing regularly for a long time.The coffee.. smell and taste, simply makes me happy! The walk with Roni is always invigorating and makes me realise how grateful I should be to be able to get out in nature. Especially with a little fury bundle of joy who appreciates every moment of every walk, there’s a lot to learn from our furry friends. The self Asana practice has been consistent for around 5/6 years now and gradually taken priority over other daily necessaries. I adapt the length of time of each practice to fit that day but I always make sure I get on the mat.
This morning ritual routine results in feeling much calmer yet productive, more precise and thorough in daily tasks , disciplined and committed in my practice and work..I have more patience, I seem to be more alert and able to concentrate for longer periods, my memory is better and I have heaps of motivation, something I was really struggling with before. Generally all round, I feel happier.
So how did I implement this?
First of all I had to want to do it!
As mentioned earlier I think this is something, if not already in you, will come with consistent yoga practice over a long period of time. Your meditation and asana practice will become a fundamental part of your daily life and you will want to start your day the best way possible.
I began slowly by setting my alarm earlier so I had about half an hour spare before going out to work. This meant going to bed earlier too.
Once up, I hydrate with water, do my ablutions and set up for meditation. I think it’s important to at least splash your face with water before meditation so you don’t end up just falling back to sleep. When setting up for meditation I light a candle and make sure I have blankets and props to support my seat and keep me warm through the meditation.
I started with a short 5 min meditation using an app. I used the Headspace app for a while but but then discovered the sensational meditation teacher Sally Kempton on Glo, as I was already signed up to Glo it made sense to practice with Sally and WOW, she guides you through some magical meditations!
After meditation I journal any observations from the meditation, thoughts and intentions for the day and my daily gratitude. This is helpful to not only record your progress, feelings and emotions but also to remind you of any ideas that may have come to you whilst sitting in meditation practice. The rest of the routine is pretty self explanatory. So this was how I started. Simple.
After just 1 week I started to feel the benefits just from this small amount of effort. Which motivated me to put in more effort and I am now at the point where I have enough time to have at least 30/45 minutes of practice including stretch, pranayama and meditation before walking with Roni (my dog) and then heading out to teach. If teaching really early I practice asana/fitness when I get back from teaching, the stretch is enough physical preparation for me to teach safely at that time in the morning. On days that I don’t need to go out in the morning to teach I will take a longer asana/fitness session.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so committed to a self practice routine before and I love it.
I do believe I’ve broken a bad samskara (habitual pattern or behavior inherited or developed through life)
Where in the past I might be reaching for my phone to check emails or instagram first thing and getting up with just enough time to get ready for work, I am now in the habit of completing all of the above before leaving for work!
The essential thing now is to not get attached to this routine, to be flexible with it and not beat myself up if I miss a day. That is to truly master the cycle of samskara. First we replace a bad samskara with a good one, then we practice complete detachment from any samskara, including the good habits. A work in progress!
Performing these morning rituals doesn’t mean that every day is perfect or that all the practice I am doing is pure ecstasy. In fact, far from it.
Some mornings I will sit in meditation for 20 mins and 18 of those minutes my mind is racing with thoughts! Some days my asana practice feels stiff, weak and mediocre. Some days everything seems to go wrong and life throws you challenge after challenge, doubt after doubt and negative vibes seem to gather all around you.
It’s the repetition and dedication to the routine that helps you deal with these days without freaking out and losing the plot!
Beginning the day with some grounding, clear perspective and positivity gets you through the days with grace and integrity.
If you are looking to start a morning ritual but don’t know where to begin or are struggling with time management. Try first as I did, with 5 minutes sitting quietly, being still and present. Focus on your breath, observe your thoughts, see if you can let them go and then come back to the breath.
I recommend using one of the mediation/yoga apps mentioned earlier if you have never tried meditation before, they can be really helpful to get you started. The key thing is to not put pressure on yourself that it has to be perfect. Start small and build gradually over time. Give yourself time. Remember results don’t come over night, consistent practice over a long period of time is really the only way. Be patient, do YOUR best and appreciate the process.
I want to thank all the teachers in my life that have guided and inspired me to be where I am now. By saying that I mean, be where I am with regards to achieving a solid regular practice, continued self study and never ending dedication to this path I happen to have stumbled upon. I do not know where I would be without yoga but I do know where I’m going is proving to be extremely compelling and never ceases to fascinate and surprise me. Jai!
I hope that sharing my little morning ritual story with you will inspire or interest you in some positive way. If you’d like to find out more or chat about introducing morning rituals do please get in touch. If you have a morning routine that is working well for you I’d love to hear about it too. Noe the next task is to work out how to keep this rewarding routine flowing when traveling?!!
Love and Light