When we ritualize our day-to-day activities, we have the opportunity to bring more awareness and self-control to the tasks we perform. A routine also acts as an anchor when we feel tired, angry, sad, stressed, anxious, and the many other uncomfortable states we experience outside of our control.
We cannot control all of the events that occur or how we feel all of the time; however, a morning routine acts as a reminder of the things we can control.
To create a morning routine, you may want to choose activities with a grounding effect, meaning actions that lower stress levels, release feel-good hormones, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. We spend a lot of our time in the sympathetic nervous system, aka fight or flight mode, which activates the body’s stress response. The parasympathetic nervous system, aka rest and digest mode, is the state where we feel clear, connected, and grounded.
Awareness of breath, breathwork exercises, stretching, and activities such as yoga, meditation, and martial arts, directly influence the nervous system, hormones, and brainwaves. We can shift how we feel and transform our perception of self and how we interact with our environment when we engage in activities like yoga.
Set aside 15-30 minutes for your morning routine; the more time you give yourself, the less rushed you’ll feel.
For those who are busy, allocating a shorter amount of time is more feasible; it means we don’t feel overwhelmed by the commitment on days when we already feel tight on time. Even 5-10 minutes is more than enough time to set aside for a simple ritual that helps us ground and anchor in a positive mindset.
Morning Series Yoga
See the new Morning Yoga Series playlist on PWC and try one of these 20-minute morning yoga classes:
A fluid class featuring mandala namaskars from Prana Flow creates space and length in the body to prepare you for deep twists. Twisting gives the internal organs a massage and stimulates the digestive system; B.K.S. Iyengar called twisting the squeeze and soak action as they compress and release oxygen-rich blood into the bloodstream. Hamstring and inner thigh lengthening and an inversion with shoulder stand complete your morning practice, so you feel engaged and refreshed to start the day.
Start your day with a vinyasa sequence featuring classic Sun Salutations ‘A’ and ‘B,’ twists, hamstring lengthening, and pranayamas with Bhramari and Khumbaka. This short class gets your body moving to enhance circulation, a deeper breath, and the release of feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. The practice is here to make us more receptive, open, and engaged with the world within and around us; may you honor this as you flow on your mat.
A fluid and dynamic class targets the back body and opens the side waist and spine to prepare for backbends. Strengthen the muscles on the back, abdomen, side body, and inner thighs with leg balancing postures tree and eagle. Develop core strength and target the obliques with side plank pose variations. You’ll move through several variations of Sun Salutations to build heat before coming down to your mat for several backbends with locus and bow pose. Close your class with a seated meditation.
Join Clara and the Lila Vinyasa Yoga Students for a short flow sequence to open the chest, shoulders, side body, and hips. Connect to breath and flow smoothly through dynamic vinyasa sequence to connect to the second chakra and the water element. This class features Sun Salutations, twists, lunges, heart-opening, and back strengthening to feel strong and spacious as you start your day. Morning Opener offers a ritual to welcome a new day.
Join Clara and the Lila Vinyasa Yoga Students for a short flow sequence to open the shoulders, side body, and hamstrings. This fluid and dynamic vinyasa is great for anyone feeling lethargic as it works with the water element to break up heavy or stagnant energy. Lunges, warriors, and balancing poses with garudasana (eagle) build strength in the lower body and core. Morning fire brings the heat to start your day and provides a ritual to honor spaciousness and strength in body and mind.
Tight on time?
Here are four quick activities you can do each morning to start the day:
A breathing exercise, such as inhaling and exhaling for the count of four; this style breathing has a calming effect on the nervous system. In 2-3 minutes, a breathing practice may help you feel calmer and is a great way to hit reset if you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed.
Simple stretches, such as child’s pose, forward fold, hip opener, or other simple poses, release tension in the body. Stretching and physical activity releases hormones serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones, which help us shift how we feel.
Journaling. Writing down our observations and how we feel is a practice of awareness; writing has a therapeutic effect and calms the nervous system.
Meditation or mindfulness practice. Sitting or laying down for a visualization, body scan, yoga nidra, or meditation activates theta brainwaves. Theta brainwaves are connected to creativity, intuition, daydreaming and act as a repository for memories, emotions, and sensations.