If you find yourself struggling to get going in the morning, one or more of these five morning rituals may be the ticket to a better start to your day. If the list seems overwhelming to tackle in one day, spread the five rituals over five days. This is a great, and accessible, way to get started.
In no particular order (if doing more than one of these on the same morning, experiment to find the order that works best for you):
Stretch / practice yoga – I watch my puppy move from downward facing dog to upward facing dog each time she gets up from being still for a long time, especially in the morning. We can learn a lot by watching animals. After a night of sleep, movement is important to work the kinks out, and lengthen and stretch the body’s connective tissue to prevent stiffness and immobility.
Use this variation of Sun Salutation A as an option. Stretch your back and hamstrings with rag doll. Start in a forward fold, allowing your upper body to hang over your legs. Interlace your hands behind your head for neck traction. Release your hands, bend your knees, and slowly rise to standing. Reach your arms overhead. Move through a lateral stretch to each side by capturing your left wrist with your right hand and moving up and over to the right, and then reverse. Reach your arms back overhead, and then fold forward. On an inhale breath, bring your hands to your shins, draw shoulder blades towards each other for a flat back. As you exhale, plant your hands to the floor and step your feet back to a high plank position (top of a pushup), then lift your hips for downward facing dog.
Meditate – Before looking at your phone or computer and getting pulled into the chaos, take five to twenty minutes to sit quietly in whatever position is comfortable for you that allows you to lengthen your spine. Find a place in your home where you can be uninterrupted, and add some items to the space that invoke a sense of calm, such as a candle, incense or essential oil diffuser, and/or anything that is a symbol of peace for you.
A meditation in which you focus on your breath is a great way to get started for those who are new to meditating. Set a timer for the length of time you would like to meditate. Sit comfortably with a tall spine and your chin parallel to the floor. Rest your hands on your thighs, and close your eyes. Bring your attention to your breath. As you inhale count silently to four or five, pause at the top of your inhale for a second or two, and then count to five or six as you exhale. Allow any thoughts to pass without attaching judgment, and then bring your attention back to counting your breath until your timer alerts you at the end of your meditation.
Drink your fruits and vegetables – Most traditional American breakfasts do not include any vegetables. However, eating five to six servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day is important for optimal health as they give us much-needed phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. One way to increase the servings of vegetables that you consume in a day is to start your morning with a green juice or smoothie. Check out our favorite juice recipe below. Be sure to rinse your fruits and vegetables first, and cut the apple before putting it through the juicer. If you don’t own a juicer, opt for a green smoothie that can be made in a blender.
Green Juice Recipe – 1 handful of kale, 1 carrot, 2 stalks of celery, 1 Granny Smith apple, piece of ginger. After juicing these items together in a juicer, squeeze the juice of half a lime into the juice (because of the skin, citrus should not be put through the juicer). Drink and enjoy. Make up your own recipe, but try to stick to a 3:1 ratio – three vegetables to one piece of fruit.
Exercise – Including exercise at the beginning of your day is a great way to get energized, making you more productive throughout the day. I find that I’m more likely to make the time for exercise if I do it before getting pulled into my day-to-day tasks. I like to mix it up throughout the week. Yoga, weight training, swimming and spin or dance class at the gym are currently in my weekly rotation.
Eat a well-balanced breakfast – Eating a breakfast that includes protein, carbohydrates and fiber provides energy, and satisfies your appetite to prevent overeating later in the day. A great option is steel-cut oats topped with your favorite non-dairy milk, and some nuts.