Mornings – most of us either love them or hate them, not much in between.
However I think we can all agree on one thing, a rushed morning leaves you feeling unprepared for the day ahead. When you take time in the morning to do things with intention, it can provide you with more clarity, a better mindset, and focus for the day ahead. The first step to this: organizing your space. Often times a cluttered physical space reflects a cluttered mind. When your space is organized, you can better focus on your tasks to set you up for a successful day.
Why the word ritual instead of routine? What’s the difference?
Morning routines usually involve waking up, showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast and heading out for the day.
When these things are repeated each day, we don’t need to do much thinking, it is more like going through the motions. Rituals however, are designed with intention. They may even include some of those same things we do each morning, but with focus on the process of the task and the benefit of it. Morning rituals help you to feel more grounded, clear headed, and focused on the day ahead. Taking even 10 minutes in the morning to prioritize your morning ritual can make a huge difference.
Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and feel grounded. Dedicating just 10 minutes in the morning to meditation can reduce stress and improve attention. So while you might feel like you don’t have the time in your busy schedule, if you make time it can help you be even more productive with your work throughout the day! Meditation looks a little different for everyone, and if it is difficult for you at first that is okay. The key is practice. Think of a space in your home where you can feel peaceful, whether it is in your bedroom, kitchen, living room, etc. to practice your meditation in a comfortable seated position. Here are some ideas for first time meditators:
- Focus on your breath. Count to 3 for each inhale and exhale. Focus on your belly filling up with each inhale, and falling with each exhale.
- Bring to mind a positive affirmation or single-word intention you want to focus on that day. It could be “calm” “peace” “confidence” etc. and repeat it as you inhale and exhale.
If your mind starts to wander, that’s okay! Acknowledge it and work on coming back to your breath.
If sitting still seems difficult for you in the morning, practicing yoga, often called a “moving meditation” to focus on your breath and get your body moving for the day ahead might be an excellent morning ritual to try. Practicing yoga in the morning, even just for 10-20 minutes, can act as a natural stimulant (dare I say better than coffee?!) to clear your mind and set you up for a productive day.
Practice these five yoga poses to feel energized and ready for the day ahead:
An excellent place to start to get your body ready to move and bring awareness to your breath and start to recognize how you feel.
- How to: from kneeling with your shins on the floor or mat and toes untucked, bring your chest down onto your thighs and forehead to the floor. Your arms can lengthen by your side with your hands next to your feet, or lengthen out in front of your head reaching forward. Sink your buttocks back towards your heels as far as is comfortable. Stay here for 5-10 breaths.
Starts to bring some fluidity to the spine and encourages more breath awareness paired with the movement of the pose.
- How to: come into a tabletop position with your wrists stacked beneath the shoulders, and the knees beneath the hips. Spread your fingers with your palms flat on the floor, pressing gently into the mat to create space between the shoulder blades. Keep a micro bend in the elbows. As you inhale, bring your gaze forward or up if it is comfortable for your neck, and reach the tailbone towards the sky as your back arches with your belly reaching towards the mat. As you exhale, tuck your chin to your chest as you round your spine towards the sky, tailbone towards the floor. Breathe here for 5-10 rounds.
Downward facing dog
- How to: From table top position, lift your knees away from the floor to activate the core, and lift your hips into the air towards the ceiling. The chest will move towards the sky, arms are straight with a slight bend in the elbows so not to hyperextend. Bend your knees as much as you need to, especially if you experience any lower back pain or your hamstrings are tight (which is very common early in the morning). It is more important to lengthen the spine and keep the hips high than it is to get your heels to the ground. Take 5-10 breaths here.
- How to: From downward facing dog, step your right foot between your hands. Engage the left leg as your lengthen your tailbone towards the floor, stretching your back and hip flexor. Lift the sides of your waist, and bring your arms up overhead alongside your ears as you relax your shoulders away from your ears. Take 5 breaths here and then repeat on the left side.
- How to: from downward dog, step your right foot in between your hands and lift your torso as you inhale. Straighten your right leg, and pivot your left foot so that it is at a 90 degree angle. in the same position and arms parallel to the ground. Start to reach your arm straight out over your right leg, keeping both legs straight and thighs engaged. When you can’t reach any further, bring your straight, right arm to your shin, shoulders in line with your torso facing left to open the chest. It is more important to keep your spine long rather than reach your ankle or foot.Take 5 breaths here and repeat on the left side.
After you finish the sequence, take 5 cleansing breaths in mountain pose (tadasana) or a comfortable seated pose if you prefer. Get ready and feel energized for the day ahead!
Look out for the second part of this series on breakfast recipes and tea vs. coffee next week!
(This post was written by our talented Intern Kathleen McCurdy!)