In the rush of modern life, it seems like once the day begins, it can quickly fill up with tasks and responsibilities. That makes mornings a prime time to front-load the most important activities, the things that help us to live our best lives.
Laura Vanderkam, time management expert and author of the book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, states that, “Before the rest of the world is eating breakfast, the most successful people have already scored daily victories that are advancing them toward the lives they want.”
For many of us yogis, making time for our yoga practice, however we define it, is a definite priority. However, mornings still can be tough for some people. If you lean toward lazy mornings, here are six tips on how to build a morning yoga routine to make sure you spend some time practicing before your day gets away from you.
Play the Gratitude Game
I have a yogi friend who says that before her feet even hit the floor each morning, she spends time expressing gratitude for all the people in her life. I like to call this the gratitude game (which makes it a fun thing to do with your kids as well).
In yogic philosophy, we might call this santosha, or the practice of being content with what is. For the next month, while you’re still horizontal in bed, name five things each morning that you are grateful for.
Here’s the challenge of the game though: each day, try to name five unique items with no repeats from the days before. This will push you to really think about the myriad ways that you are blessed, and the best part is, you don’t even need to open your eyes to play this game!
Activate Your Lungs
Our inhale breath generally tends to be more activating and enlivening than our exhale breath. Focusing on your exhale is a great nightly ritual. Try adding the opposite energy to your morning routine. One great way to do this is to practice a type of pranayama called dirgha breathing.
How to practice Dirgha pranayama or three-part breath: First, take a few breaths and focus on your belly. Picture it filling up like a balloon, then try to draw your inhale breath down to that space. Next, bring your attention to your ribcage. Breathe and notice your ribs expand and contract. Finally, allow your focus to rest on your chest as you take some deep breaths here.
If you feel comfortable, bring these three steps together in one inhale, taking a deep, full breath into your belly, ribs, then chest. Dirgha breath is a simple way to deepen your inhale breath, and is something you can practice while lying in bed or in easy seated position.
Practice Bed Yoga
Yes, you can do yoga in bed. For a simple bed-based routine, focus on moving the spine in all of its possible directions. Begin with a supine twist, lying on your back and allowing your bent knees to fall to each side. Come to seated and take a few gentle side stretches.
Finally, move through some Cat/Cows which you can practice while sitting or by coming onto your hands and knees. Move through these postures and in just a few minutes, you’ll have opened your spine and released any tension from the previous evening.
Another way to make time for some asana in the morning is to spend a few minutes the night before setting up a practice space. One of my teachers told me that she puts a mat next to her bed, so that she can roll out of bed in the morning and go right to her mat.
Try setting a mat next to your bed the night before with a notepad. Jot down five postures or practices you’d like to move through the next morning. When you wake up, your practice will be right there waiting for you.
Make It a Family Affair
Real talk: some of you are laughing at the idea that you might have even a few minutes to yourself in the morning because you wake up with your littles ones in bed with you asking when they can have breakfast. When I work with students who are also parents, I really encourage them to stop thinking about family and yoga as two separate concepts. It’s all yoga.
Learning how to be present with your children and giving them a foundation of spirituality and wellness is yoga.
All of the above practices can be done with your kids. That being said, if you need that time to yourself, you might try waking before your children or asking your partner to keep an eye on them during your morning practice time.
Create a Ritual
The word habit gets a bad name, but habits, when done with a positive mindset, can become beautiful rituals. One of my favorite rituals is to write down three intentions for my day in a special journal that I purchased for myself—just three words that encapsulate the energy I want to cultivate.
Then, I’ll diffuse some essential oils, put on some positive music, set some crystals next to my journal, pull some angel cards, and just sit for a couple of minutes.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a day every once in a while where I stay in bed reading or watching the morning news, but by creating this positive routine, I’m motivated to get up and spend that time creating the energy that I want to surround myself with on that day.
What are some of the ways that you incorporate yoga into your morning routine?
Image credit: Odette Hughes