Many of you have asked me how I am staying in shape, keeping my digestion regular and overall maintaining balance while traveling for 9 months. Among many things that I do, a regular morning routine is at the core of my self-care. I use morning to set the tone for the day, optimize digestion and elimination pathways, move my body, and calm the mind. I get all of this done in two hours 6-8am or lately 530-730am.
I do believe that morning has a very special power as it sets the tone for the day. There is also something magic about waking up a bit before the sunrise and having time for stillness. A morning in the rush is the worst thing for me so I always wake up at least 3 hours before I need to leave the house or hotel (sometimes it means I’m up at 3am but that’s just me:)).
So here is what is included in my morning routine step by step:
- Wake up to a very gentle soothing sound. Turn off the alarm. I use either a mantra as my alarm clock or an acoustic guitar. Having an unpleasant loud alarm is the easiest recipe to start your day on the negative note. Find something that is pleasant and soft on your ears first thing in the morning. External influences will determine your mood so use the opportunity to start your morning off pleasantly.
- Do 10 min of energy chakra clearing while still lying down in bed ( I go chakra by chakra with visualization and a mantra for each chakra). This is a meditation from my teacher and really helps to wake up feeling light and expanded. You can do some deep breathing, listening to the sounds outside and paying attention to the sensations in your body. That’s a way to awaken your energy body, your awareness, and activate your perception with the yes still closed. This is the first step of being fully present for your day.
- Drink some water. I always like plain water first. I used to drink lemon or lime water first and then after a few years my pitta started flaring up. Sour taste is heating and if you already have lots heat built up, if you live in a hot climate, or if you are pitta by nature, having sour first thing on an empty stomach might not be the best thing to do. You can try having plain water and then having some herbal tea with a slice of lemon, lime, apple cider vinegar (if it is cold and you need extra kick of heat), coconut vinegar, or a slice of grapefruit. While traveling I found that putting a piece of tamarind into water water make the water sour quickly. I learned it in a village in Madagascar where girls put tamarind into their water for flavoring. Traveling with a few tamarinds in my bag is easier than having half cut limes or lemons. So that’s my choice as of now. Sour taste has a mildly laxative, stimulating, heating effect so don’t overdo it.
- Brush teeth, scrape tongue, wash my eyes with the coldest water I can get from the tap. Put rose water drops in my pitta eyes and use nasya oil in my nose (You can check out more about nasa oil here). These are simple hygiene habits. Eyes are a pitta organ and need to be cooled especially if you spend a lot of time at the computer. Rose water splash or eye drops work great. Nose is a channel for prana. It is also responsible for catching the impurities, dust, etc. Keeping nostrils lubricated with nasya oil, sesame oil, or coconut oil is really helpful if live in a dry climate or if you want to support your immune system.
- Drink herbal tea ( I make it in a thermos the night before so I don’t wake up my husband with a boiling kettle in the morning). That’s a hotel livings trick. You can make fresh or if you are pressed on time, use my my thermos trick. Depending on the season I can add lemon, lime or aloe Vera. More on my favorite teas here.
- Then 30-50 fire breaths in a squat. Malasana or a squat creates downward flowing energy and helps with elimination. I also like it for fire breath practice because I can feel both sides on my stomach press into my thighs. It’s a great quick practice especially when vata is ruling in the external environment (during the fall and early winter).
- Elimination (this one is super important to my energy and mood). I think water, tea, and malasana do the trick here. More on the art of creating a beautiful poop in this article
- Yoga: starting with nauli and then some twists, inversions, lunges, side stretches and balancing poses. Finish with pranayama and meditation. I have a daily yoga practice since I m 12 and for me it’s like brushing teeth. I can’t start my day without it. It usually take an hour or 90 min if time allows. However, even 15 minutes is wonderful. Sun salutations, some stretches and a closing practice that helps you to set an intention for the day are a good start. Movement in the morning doesn’t have to be your main exercise for the day but getting warm or even sweaty before breakfast is a great help to a well-functioning digestive system. It helps to keel lymphatic system functioning properly and that in turn supports your energy, immune system, and elimination pathways. Also exercising between 6-10am when kapha dosha is dominating the day is a great preventative measure for sluggishness and weight gain.
- A well balanced breakfast. Since we started traveling, my breakfast choices have been much more limited than at home. So I usually have fruits and then in 10-15 min, 2 eggs, greens or whatever local vegetables the kitchen can make. Sometimes I can have oatmeal with nuts and seeds and chia seeds that I carry with me. This has been a rotating breakfast for the past 4.5 months. I find that having some source of fat and protein keeps me full for at least 3-4 hours. I keep at least 3 hour break between my meals not to overload digestion. If you have never tried it, give it a try. Grazing every hour can make a lot of people bloated and disconnected from their true hunger.
All this takes two hours and leaves me feeling full of energy, at ease and ready to digest well!
Two hours might seem like a lot but feeling great and clear is absolutely worth it for me. I had a somewhat similar morning routine with only small changes for the last 18 years.
When creating your morning routine, try starting small with things that are the most promising or interesting to you. Them slowly experiment and build up from there. There is no universal routine that works for everyone so try, evaluate the effect, and then keep it or move on to something else. If you have favorite practices that charge you up, please share in the comments!
There are lots of people who shared their morning routines online and that you can use for inspiration to create your own:
Danielle La Porte @daniellelaporte
Tim Ferriss @timferriss