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There is no doubt that having a good morning routine can make all the difference to your mood and productivity throughout the day. Consider a morning where you overslept your alarm, rushed to get ready, spilt coffee on yourself in car, and then got stuck behind a school bus. Aaaaggghhh! That is usually when I start yelling at no one in particular.
In these moments, your nervous system goes into overdrive, cortisol peaks, and you find yourself in fight or flight mode. This can lead to increased blood pressure, feelings of stress and anxiety, and digestive issues. The brain becomes worse at executive functioning and you become more likely to respond using programmed or habitual behaviors. For me, that means yelling at my kids as opposed to finding creative solutions to help them to do what I need them to do.
Now compare that to a morning where you woke up a bit early, had some quiet time to yourself, ate a mindful breakfast, and felt completely ready to start the day. I can guarantee that you had a better day overall in the second scenario, because you went into the world with great energy and when you put out great energy, it comes back to you. It’s called the law of attraction, and it is a very real thing.
That’s why if you aren’t doing some yoga or meditation in the morning, you should really give it a try. Yoga has the incredible ability to both calm our nervous system and energize us. It provides a great buffer for the stresses of the day. It improves energy flow and remove blockages in the chakras, which are wheels of energy that exist throughout the body (more on this another day!). Even if you feel tired in the morning, you will find that yoga can help to wake you up and get you going.
For those of you who are saying, Allison, I am just not into yoga. I hear you. The thing is, you don’t have to be a yogini for this. You don’t have to be the least bit flexible. Of course, it will help you to become more flexible and increase your range of motion, which is going to allow you age better and protect you from injuries. So don’t let the idea of “yoga” intimidate you. Anyone can do meditation and light stretching. And hey guess what, when you do that, you are doing yoga!
Lastly, you don’t have to devote an entire 60-90 minutes per day to see incredible benefits. Doing 10 minutes of yoga per day is enough. Of course, the more you put in the more you are going to get out of your practice. But don’t let time stop you. 10 minutes is better than no minutes and a daily routine is better than a once per week yoga studio visit.
Better Decision Making. Yoga allows us to connect the body and mind. You may be surprised how much more mindful and attuned you are to your body for the rest of the day. After your morning yoga, you will be much less likely to swing by Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, and more likely to make yourself a green smoothie. Your body will be feeling great and you won’t want to fuel it with junk.
Improved Blood Flow. After lying in bed all night, we wake up stiff in the morning. This is because as we age, the cartilage cushioning our joints tends to dry out when we aren’t moving. By increasing circulation through yoga, we move more blood through our joints and tissues which helps to nourish them. Yoga also helps to circulate synovial fluid through the joints. Think of synovial fluid like WD-40! The result is less joint pain and more freely moving joints.
Improved Lymph Flow. Our lymphatic system runs alongside our circulatory system and plays major roles in both immunity and detoxification. Improved lymph flow gives our immune system a boost by allowing our white blood cells to move more efficiently throughout the body. If you have kids coming home from school with all sorts of germs like I do, then you definitely want to do all your can to keep your immune system going strong. Legs up the wall is particularly stimulating for the immune system, so give it a try if you feel a cold coming on!
Better Sleep. By making an early yoga practice a priority, you will most likely make bed time a priority as well. When we get to bed on time, and rise early, we respect our natural biorhythms and generally experience better sleep quality. Sleep is one of the pillars of health and critically impacts all of the others: diet, physical activity, hydration levels, stress, and gut health.
We not only need to sleep about 8 hours per night, but it needs to be good quality sleep. Once you have upped your morning routine, you may feel inspired to up your evening routine as well. If you have an early dinner, take a walk and read for a few minutes before going to bed, you are going to sleep infinitely better than if you have a late dinner and sit in bed watching a highly stimulating show until midnight.
The question is, what is important to you? Just some food for thought.
For more on sleep, check out this post: How Better Gut Health Leads to Better Sleep
It is universally accepted that yoga and meditation are incredibly powerful tools when it comes to stress management and anxiety. One study done by Yoga Biomedical Trust in London found that 94% of their participants experienced significantly less anxiety throughout the day when they practiced yoga regularly upon rising. Less stress and anxiety means more happiness. At the end of the day, isn’t that all that really matters.
Find a quiet and peaceful spot, where you can practice your morning yoga routine every day. If you have a room with windows, it’s nice to be in natural light. The natural light on our skin actually helps to wake us up and benefits our circadian rhythm. And what better way to wake up your body and mind than with the sunrise? That is why sun salutations are called sun salutations!
Consider setting up the space so that it really feels dedicated to your morning practice. Invest in a good yoga mat, some blocks, and a bolster. A diffuser, filled with an uplifting aroma, such as lemon, rosemary or peppermint essential oil, can be a great addition as well. You may even find that you can ditch your morning coffee! Some other decorative items that you can include in your yoga space include crystals, salt lamps, a cozy reading nook, blanket, and an inspiration board.
Now that you have a space for your morning practice, here is a simple routine that you can fill it with.
Also, if you haven’t yet signed up, I am running a free 7 day challenge starting the week after Thanksgiving. We will be eating foods that promote a flat tummy and doing some gentle yoga sequences to promote better digestion and elimination. Poor elimination often leads to belly bloat and abdominal discomfort, so we want to move our body’s in a way that supports our wellness goals. You can sign up at the link below!