Try a Morning Routine for Energy & Contentment
A morning routine is practically synonymous with Ayurveda, the science of life and longevity. Have you noticed that how we start our day directly impacts the day ahead of us? And our days add up to our lives! Just as Ayurveda does not prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution to optimal health and well-being, nor does it prescribe the ideal-must-do (and-in-this-order) morning routine.
Ayurveda celebrates our uniqueness, and because we all have our own special cadence, our morning routines will be particular to us. Our biological rhythms, our lifestyles, our circumstances, and even our desires will all factor in to how we craft a routine that supports us. This may take a little experimenting to find what feels good, what’s realistic, and what’s not.
It’s true there are some people who rise before the sun (way before the sun), perform ablutions, fire rituals, self-massage, yoga, meditation, and more. And some of these practices may work for you. Some may not.
There are others who are satisfied with a gentle morning stretch, a warm shower, and a simple breakfast. And still others who count it a good day when they get out of bed and dress themselves. And many, if not most, of us are some combination of all three, given the day.
Unlocking Your Natural Energy & Vitality
As we well know, mornings that begin haphazardly can create an imprint on the rest of the day. So how can we create a morning routine that will nurture, sustain, and open the doors to our own deep well of natural energy?
An intentional morning routine does more than support your body—it nourishes your mind and soul. In true Ayurvedic fashion, the more you can nourish and honor your whole self, the more you will be able to tap into your natural vital energy, living in tune with yourself and your purposeful intentions.
By tapping into this energy before the day gets away from you, at the time of day when your body is most receptive, you are structuring your day—your life—to support your intentions and your happiness.
A Morning Routine as an Intention
While your personal morning routine will be distinct, there is an underlying common thread.
We can think of our morning routine as a way to honor ourselves and to set a positive intention for the day. There is even some science behind the idea of setting an intention. In scientific terms, intention setting is supported by the concept of neuroplasticity—the belief that our brains are adaptive and that neural pathways can be restructured by learning, challenge, and experience. 1
In the Yoga tradition, this is called sankalpa. In Sanskrit, kalpa means “vow” or “a sacred precept, law, or rule,” and san means “honoring or bestowing.” Thus, sankalpa is a sacred vow, or law, that we honor or bestow. 2 In this way, our morning routine essentially becomes a sacred vow that we bestow, on ourselves, on others, and our day.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
With a morning routine framed as an intention for our lives, how then might we go about constructing a routine that supports our highest purpose? Or, in more modest terms, how can we start our day in a way that makes us happy?
Like mathematics, there are so many combinations of morning-routine variables. The right answer is the one that feels good to you. Here are a few Ayurvedic building blocks to take into consideration for a healthy daily routine. Again, there are many ways to answer this, and the "right" answer is the one that feels right for your life.
Rise & Shine
Get Enough Sleep
Guess what? Your morning routine actually starts the night before, with your evening routine. Supporting yourself with a calming evening routine is the best way to encourage a good night’s rest.
If you are one with a high amount of vata or pitta in your system and have a difficult time winding down, I Sleep Soundly is a wonderfully supportive formula to help relax the mind so the body can rest. Rubbing the feet and your temples with Sleep Easy Oil is another kindness you can offer yourself before bed.
In the Ayurvedic tradition, sleep is one of the four pillars of health. In fact, the lack of adequate sleep, defined as at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night, is one factor in many chronic health conditions. 3 So, get your sleep!
Wake Up at Approximately the Same Time Each Day
For example, kapha rules the time between 6 to 10 a.m. and p.m., which means that kapha’s heavy, slow, stable, and sometimes static qualities prevail during this time. For this reason, when we sleep in, or even past 6 a.m., we generally have more difficulty rousing ourselves out of bed.
This is also why, if we stay up past 10 p.m., we seem to catch a “second wind”—we move into the pitta time of night, which brings with it pitta’s fire and drive, reawakening our minds and desires to accomplish and do. This pitta time of night lasts from approximately 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. when we transition to the vata time of the morning, from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Some may find themselves waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. This wakefulness is influenced by the vata time of the morning. This is also why you may find that you naturally wake up before the sunrise, still receptive to this vata energy in the environment, which provides a lightness and clarity. This is an excellent time to begin your day. You may want to journal, write down your dreams, or invoke a mantra or affirmation for your day. 4
Scrape Your Tongue
There are a few practices particularly unique to Ayurveda. Tongue scraping is one of them. Along with clearing your tongue of bacteria accumulated through the night, scraping your tongue is said to stimulate your digestive organs and enhance your sense of taste.
It’s also strangely addicting. You will miss scraping your tongue first thing in the morning should you find yourself without your tongue cleaner. This makes a good preparatory step to brushing your teeth. Follow this up with Daily Swish, a lightly herbalized oil formulated especially for oil pulling, and you have an exemplary oral hygiene routine—and good oral hygiene is vital for so many reasons!
Give Yourself a Massage
In Ayurveda, the practice of self-massage, or abhyanga, is another vital component of a daily routine. With an herbal oil formulated for your dosha, self-massage calms the nervous system, increases circulation and the flow of lymph, and is a significant expression of self-love.
There is a beautiful Sanskrit word, sneha, that is central to the practice of abhyanga. Sneha translates to “oil or unctuousness,” and also “love.” Thus, when we take the time to anoint ourselves with oil, we can think of it as wrapping ourselves with love.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Again, this will be specific to your personal preference and productivity style, as well as your age, your constitution, your current state of balance, and the season. For more in depth reading on this subject, you might appreciate the Ayurvedic Approach to Fitness.
Some love to get a good workout in first thing in the morning. Others prefer a moderate walk or gentle stretch. Whatever your choice, exercise is an indispensable way of starting your day on the right foot.
Every process, cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies need water to work properly and efficiently. Starting the day with hydration is another good habit to practice. If you drink water, the Ayurvedic preference is that is warm or at least room temperature.
And if you drink tea, CCF Tea, a blend of cumin, coriander, and fennels seeds, is especially hydrating, excellent for supporting the appetite and digestive process, and good for all three doshas.
Take Your Herbs
Humans have used plants for their beneficial properties probably since the dawn of humankind. In the words of Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad,
This is just one reason to take your herbs! Just as we set an intention with our routine, we can set an intention with our herbs. Taking your herbs can be a way of slowing down just enough to listen to our bodies and what they need in the moment.
A Few More Ideas…
Of course, there are many more ideas and Ayurvedic practices you can incorporate to create the perfect morning routine that will nourish you and help unlock your natural vitality and energy. We have many resources to help you fine-tune your approach so you can tap into your full, vibrant potential. Here are a few more ideas to inspire you:
- Do dosha-balancing yoga.
- Include time for self-care.
- Tap into your creative side.
- Do pranayama.
- Spend some time each day in nature.
- Do what you love. Listen to music, write, cook—whatever your medium may be, dedicate a little time daily to nourish your soul.
- Practice gratitude.
- Connect with a loved one.
- Say I love you. This could be to a loved one, your pet—or to yourself.
Whether you incorporate one—or all—of these suggestions, we invite you to enjoy the process as you find what resonates with you. Again, there is no wrong way to build your morning routine, as long as you feel centered, clear, and ready for the day!