When you’re a kid, you dream about how being a grown-up means you’ll get to do anything you please. With the power of making your own decisions, you plan to play all day, eat pizza and ice cream for every meal, and to stay up late watching movies every night. It’s all an illusion, but as a kid, this seems like it would be possible in the adult world. Meanwhile, your parents are doing everything they can to keep you on a routine. They know that if you eat three meals a day, have some playtime to unwind, and stick to a consistent bedtime, you’ll be healthier all-around.
As an adult, you juggle many things. You wake up and hit the ground running, knowing that a day full of responsibilities is ahead. Between the errands, emails, and kids’ schedules, you grab an energy bar or a protein-packed smoothie, making an earnest attempt at self-care and healthy living. Yet somehow, now that you’re all grown up, you find yourself longing for the energy you once had when you were a kid. Those liberties you thought you’d have as an adult? They’ve made you more tired than they have free, as you slip into the perpetual low-energy cycle.
The majority of us are overbooked and over-committed, which as a result, has left us feeling stressed, unhealthy, and not quite like ourselves. When we find ourselves deep into this storyline and ready to take action, we often prioritize the what over the when, thinking a cleanse and more yoga should do the trick. But as your parents knew all along, routine is what keeps you on track.
Ayurveda advocates maintaining health and preventing deeper manifestations before they begin, and daily routine, or dinacharya, is at the heart of its approach. It’s said that our consistent self-care practices will lead to balanced doshas, healthy agni, and the ultimate avoidance of disease. Cleaning your tongue, dry brushing, abhyanga or oil massage, and oil pulling are among the contents of this recommended routine. While these things will undoubtedly put you on a path to better health, there are some other simple and practical things that can supercharge your morning routine and provide you with the sustained energy you seek.
This morning routine was designed with our modern-day lifestyle in mind. It will require you to make a 15–20 minute commitment to yourself, as a promise for better health. There’s no need for any fancy tools or extra supplies, only to clear space for carrying out these mindful rituals.
A Morning Routine for Sustained Energy
Wake with the Sun
The time period of 2–6 a.m. is the vata time of day and is considered to be the most auspicious. Brahma muhurta, or the period of Brahma, is approximately one and a half hour before the sunrise. In the summer, this is around 4:30 a.m. In the winter, this is closer to 6:30 a.m. While this time is said to be great for study or spiritual growth, rising with the sun also resets your circadian clock, or internal clock. With your natural rhythms synchronized, you’re setup for better energy throughout the day. The Ashtanga Hridayam states that “the healthy person should get up from bed during brahma muhurta to protect his life,” but for some, these are numbers that you never want to witness on a clock. Be realistic and do your best. Choose a wake-time that provides you enough sleep, allows you enough time in the morning to keep you from rushing, and that gives you the ability to be consistent.
Meditation and Pranayama
Providing yourself with quiet time and breathing room in the morning keeps you calm and collected for the rest of the day. Prana, or your “life force,” can easily be wasted on excessive thoughts, worries, or fears. A morning breathing (pranayama) and meditation practice—even if short—can be the foundation you need for being able to manage difficult decisions and unpredictable stress.
After you wake, sit comfortably with an upright spine. If needed, go through a few minutes of gentle, non-stimulating movement prior, so that you can feel more open to being still. Become conscious of your breath. Matching the timing of the inhalation and exhalation, breathe in slowly to a count of four, and breathe out to a count of four. Repeat this five times. Then, continue to stay seated for five more minutes. Knowing that clearing your mind is quite a feat, be open to taking witness to what’s consuming your mind, considering it digestion for your thoughts.
Journal Your Self-Sustainability Plan for the Day
When we take time to plan ways we can pause and reboot throughout the day, it is easier for our mental and physical energy to be ample and sustained. With your clear, post-meditation mind, look at your schedule for the day. Where is there time for pause? Can you predict the times that you will need a break? Is it possible to allow transitions to be more conscious and less rushed? Write down three times you can take a few minutes for yourself and what you will be doing to recharge. Whether it is making your favorite tea, using an essential oil, or taking a stretch break, let it be simple.
Connect with Nature
Our society is becoming increasingly more urban and less adept at things that were once instinctual, such as knowing which plants heal, which plants poison, and how to adjust our routine according to the season. And even with the best intentions, it is difficult to go entirely without mobile phones and laptops, which only steers us further away from nature. Remember, the Earth provides what we need. Whether it is seasonal eating, opening the windows, or smelling the flowers and plants that are native to your area, it gives us energy and motivation when we need it most. For your morning connection to nature, try talking a walk outside or moving your meditation outdoors. Take time for tea on your patio or walk barefoot on the grass. Open the blinds when you wake up to let daylight in. When all else fails or when weather doesn’t permit, use indoor plants and flowers to bring nature to you.
Practice Mindful Self-Care
Your dinacharya is important! When it comes to the self-care items on your list like cleaning your tongue, brushing your teeth, dry brushing, or abhyanga, perform them in the most mindful of ways. It’s easy to check-out during these hygienic tasks that you do every day, but staying present at these times will empower you to be more present throughout your day. Your self-care shouldn’t feel like an agenda or to-do list, and it shouldn’t feel hurried. Even the simplest parts of your morning self-care routine are acts of self-love.