Master Your Morning Routine: How a Yoga Health Coach Starts Her Day
Paula Pister – busy mom, yoga teacher, and health coach – lets talk morning routine.
I have FINALLY — in the last few years — come to the realization that if I don’t have my morning routine crafted — intentional and automated — I will not experience the ease, flow, and productivity that I desire in my day.
To talk in person join the workshop April 11th
Morning Routine Reality
I’ve always loved the mornings but never really had a structure around them. They used to be dictated by my work schedule in TV production that was all about “burning the candle on both ends.” When I moved to New York City and fell right into the flow and pulse of New York, perpetuating the same less than life-affirming habits that worked in opposition of my daily rhythms. Again, staying up late, eating late, waking up early to teach yoga classes, and then running around the city chasing auditions. Next up, I moved to LA and had kids. Kids can put a serious wrench in any parent’s habitual routine (good and bad) and more often than not, creates a ton of chaos on many fronts.
So if you are a busy, productive person in the world juggling career, family, personal life and all that entails, it is absolutely imperative that you have a morning routine that grounds you, energizes you, and sets you up for an intentionally AWESOME day. If we only have approximately 25,0000 adult mornings (that’s another blog post), then how are we going to spend them?
Jumping out of bed to the sound of an alarm clock, hitting the ground running, and depending on caffeine to wake you up is over time going to take its toll on your health, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally, too.
Imagine waking up early, greeting a new day feeling naturally energized, and having time to take care of YOU before the kids wake up, the emails get started, and your day shifts into GO MODE. Imagine having time to meditate, hydrate, and eliminate BEFORE your day transitions into taking care of duties, responsibilities, and other people.
My precious morning routine has simply saved my life, enhanced my creativity, and made me a better mom and spouse. It has empowered me to become the best version of me on so many levels. A regular, intentional morning routine will change your life — I guarantee it.
How To Create and Intentional Morning Routine
A productive and glorious morning routine HAS to start the night before. If you want to get up early and experience the best part of your day, you need to set it up the night before. Get to bed early so that you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep and eat your last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime. If you do this, you will wake up with the sun, feeling light, energized, and ready for action.
I’ve literally trained my body to wake up at 5 a.m. every morning. It took a while and required an alarm clock, but now the birds are my cue. Nature is such a great reminder to expand my awareness outside the four walls of my room and into the bigger picture. Do you think the birds think, “Oh shit, another day, here we go,” or snuggle back into their nests and pull the twigs over their heads feeling resentful that they have to wake up? NO!!! They wake up and see the morning as an opportunity to feed themselves, nurture their families, and continue their lifeline. We have to learn to take our cues from nature, because there’s no denying it — Nature does know best.
One last thing — I realize sometimes it’s impossible to have my routine exactly as I like it. Life happens, there’s travel, illness, and other unexpected events that sometimes play interference. Starting my day right is my KEYSTONE habit (the one habit that if I don’t do, everything else falls apart). I will do whatever I need to set myself up right from the beginning, even if it’s a 5 minute practice. It’s all about establishing this self-care habit in your day at this time. Once you begin to feel the effects of a positive morning routine, you will eventually do whatever it takes to make it happen, even when life throws you a curveball. It’s just one more powerful tool in your wellness/ happiness tool belt, and an even better one to teach your kids early in life.
My Morning Routine goes like this (in a nutshell)
- Wake up at 5 a.m. I spend a minute visualizing my ideal day and expressing gratitude for yet one more morning I get to be alive. I then have my “workout” clothes available so I don’t have to think about whether or not I do my breath body practices later on…. I just roll out of bed and get dressed. This is called setting yourself up for success.
- Scrape my tongue
That white stuff on your tongue in Ayurveda (the sister science to yoga) is called AMA= TOXINS. That’s the body trying to rid itself of left over undigested food and gunk. Your tongue is a roadmap to the health of your organ body. Google an Ayurvedic tongue map and you can learn to understand what’s going on deep inside.
This is not for hydration purposes, this is for peristalsis and elimination. Within 10 minutes of waking up I guzzle a large Mason jar of warm water with lemon. Think of it as a tidal wave whooshing through your intestinal tract to stimulate a bowel movement. Ever been constipated? Nobody wants to walk around all day with fecal matter stuck in their colon — literally junk in the trunk. Get that s&*t out and THRIVE in your day.
This may be easier said than done for some. Me, I’m like clockwork at this point and you want to be, too. If pooping is a problem, let’s nip that issue in the butt. If you’re constipated, your system is not operating optimally and over time that buildup of undigested food and AMA turns to inflammation and eventually disease. Never mind the fact that if you’re not a pooping machine (it’s possible), you’re suffering on a daily basis because of it. This is worth taking the time to remedy. Start with a huge morning water flush. If that’s not instigating movement, start to look at your diet and where you can add in foods that stimulate the digestive process naturally.
The yogis refer to this time between 3-6 a.m. as “Brahma muhurta” and call it THE most magical and creative time of the day when consciousness is the most expansive. This is when I settle onto my meditation cushion, where I’ve established a special place, to sit for 15-20 minutes and open my mind to a bigger perspective, connect with my inner guide, and get intentional.
- Do breath and body practice
This usually is 15-20 minutes of movement. Here’s when we get out of our sleepy heads and into our bodies. If I’m teaching yoga that day, I’ll practice my class. If I’m taking a yoga class later in the day, I’ll balance it out with more of a cardio workout — jumping jacks, burpees, light weights, or a short vigorous walk. No matter what you have planned “exercise- wise” later in the day, choose a practice that cultivates the opposite. Another example: If you’re taking a long run or have a date with weights at the gym, keep your morning practice more fluid with stretching & yoga. Point being, MOVE YOUR BODY FIRST THING in the morning, somehow, some way. If this sounds impossible, start with 1 minute of jumping jacks. You’ll feel the benefits and naturally want to do more. Build from there.
- Nourish my body
I make a green smoothie. This is the best way to get a good shot of chlorophyll into the bloodstream along with all the nutrients that dark leafy greens offer. When you make your smoothie, lean more toward greens and less toward sweet fruits, as it’s easy to load up on unnecessary sugars that don’t offer the same benefits. You want to drink this on an empty stomach. If 20 minutes later you have a larger appetite, eat a healthy, easily digestible breakfast like oatmeal, stewed apples, toast, and eggs.
- Intentionally imagine & plan my day
If and when I don’t do this, my entire day is a crap shoot — who knows what’ll go down. After 45 minutes of taking care of my body’s needs, opening to a bigger picture of life, and moving my body, I now have 15 minutes before the kids are up to curate my day. I’ll take this time with my morning smoothie (these can be made in batches the night before and kept in the fridge for 1-2 days for optimal freshness) to pull out my journal and open my Google calendar (and if you’re like me also use other systems to keep myself aligned with my daily/weekly/yearly goals such as S.M.A.R.T sheets and 12-week scorecards). I check in with what I have on my calendar and confirm it’s doable. If not, it gets moved. I’ve developed this habit and streamline it every day – it only takes 5 minutes. If I can I’ll tap into this creative time of the day and write for my website, my blog, and others. Twice a week I wake an extra half-hour earlier to JUST write.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post which will include some handy tips for setting yourself up for the best day possible!
Paula Pister -Yoga Teacher and Health Coach
How to Pick the Perfect Crystal with Hanna Ketai
If you haven’t heard, the wonderful Hanna Ketai is hosting an Intuitive Crystal Ceremony and Jewelry Making Workshop on May 3rd! It is sure to be awesome. Why? Because she’s awesome and talented and if you don’t believe me, check out her ODDLight feature to confirm.
To bring you into the crystal-sphere, Hanna has devised some quick tips for choosing a crystal that is perfect for you. Crystals are super personal. They all have different qualities and one may/may not resonate with you at a given moment in life. Be sure to follow Hanna’s advice to find the one (or five!) for you.
And don’t forget to sign up for her workshop to learn even more about crystals and jewelry making.
1. Tune in
Close your eyes and take at least five slow, deep breaths in and out of the nose.
2. Set your intention
Take a moment and think of one new thing that you’d like to manifest in your life.
Use your eyes to look at the crystals in front of you, observing the different sizes, shapes, lusters, colors. Then notice which ones you are immediately drawn to.
Pick up the crystal(s) that you’re drawn to and hold them in your hand. Take in the sensations you feel when holding it.
5. Trust your gut
Don’t worry about any pre-assigned meanings of certain crystals that you may have heard. Pick the one that speaks to you…that’s the one you need!
A March Madness inspired challenge we bring you One Down Dog’s March ODDness!
Pick one of each bracket. You don’t have to go in order. Complete 20 classes!
ODDLight: Hanna Ketai
March! It’s here! And it brought a whole new ODDLight with it. This month, we’re featuring Hanna Ketai. Hanna is the woman – the dream – behind many of the lovely rings, bracelets, and necklaces that you see at ODD. She’s been around One Down Dog FOREVER and it’s time for us to introduce her to the masses. Read on to learn more about Hanna and be sure to sign up for her workshop, Intuitive Crystal Ceremony and Jewelry Making, which is happening March 14!
Name: Hanna Ketai
Nick Name: “The Crystal Yenta” (Megan Feinberg coined this one)
Hometown: West Bloomfield, Michigan
Favorite Place: Sedona, Arizona
Favorite Color: Olive Green ( Some of my friends call it “Hanna Green”)
What’s your sign? Cancer
Most embarrassing moment?
Throwing up while teaching a yoga class ( I got food poisoning from Kombucha)
Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I was named after Hana in Maui even though I have never been there! Also, in addition to designing jewelry and owning a crystal business, I am also a therapist. I have my own private practice in Beverly Hills.
Share a story or anecdote with us – something magical, changing, funny, or adventurous.
Something that you love to tell. : I recently took myself on a solo trip to the desert to paint and wander around. I got attacked by a cactus and ended up in urgent care. Lesson to be learned: Don’t wear Birkenstocks in the desert.
When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found (favorite past time)?
Playing with crystals, playing pool, seeing live music and hiking with friends
How do you define yoga?
Yoga is all about coming “home” to yourself
Why do you teach?
I am not currently teaching yoga, however what I used to love about teaching was creating and holding a special space for people to connect and come home to themselves. When I teach workshops, it’s a similar feeling but now I am teaching people about crystals, how to use them to connect with yourself and cultivate a deeper intuition. And of course, how to make some badass jewelry with those crystals too!
What brought you to become an instructor?
My yoga teachers and the owners of the studio encouraged/forced me to become a teacher. I’m glad they did!
What is your favorite song to play in class?
Sideways by Citizen Cope
What is your favorite pose or flow? Why?
Pigeon pose because the hips don’t lie!
Memorable yoga moment?
I still remember my very first yoga class at the Yoga Shelter in West Bloomfield, Michigan. I was 16 years old and it completely changed my life.
How did you first hear about One Down Dog?
Jess, the owner, is one of my oldest dearest friends from Michigan.
What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use?
I love bringing crystals to class and placing them at the front of my mat when I practice!
If you could have any super power what would it be?
What special causes or non-profits do you hold dear to your heart?
Check out Hanna’s beautiful creations @Hanna.LAHandmade on instagram!
Learn more about Hanna’s upcoming workshop,”Intuitive Crystal Ceremony and Jewelry Making“, and sign up, on the ODD website or check in with any one of our lovely desk staff members the next time you’re in a studio.
RESTORE Teacher Training with Sam Akers
If you haven’t heard, ODD has some absolutely amazing teacher trainings happening throughout the next few months.
One of them happens to be a restorative yoga workshop with the wonderful Sam Akers. It’s taking place at our Echo Park studio from March 7 – March 10 (find more details here). Whether you’re a certified yoga teacher or a student looking to deepen their practice through restorative asana, this training is for you!
Are you intrigued by this concept but not really clear about what restorative yoga actually is? Keep reading. Check out the photos.
Learn about this beautiful practice, how Sam came to love it, why she continues to do what she does, and what you can expect to get from the training.
Why is Restorative Yoga near and dear to my heart?
Restorative Yoga allowed me to heal from 11 years of Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, and Lyme Disease. I had been diagnosed with all of these ailments, in a 3 month period, in 1997. Completely debilitating and confusing. Western medicine attempted to help, but really was making me worse with all kinds of medications. I found myself at a holistic chiropractor, one day in 1998, who suggested that I try yoga. I didn’t find restorative in my first class, but instead, I went to whatever class fit my schedule, as there was not really any guidance. It was a Vinyasa class that nearly killed me. Luckily, the owner of the studio was the teacher, and she sweetly suggested Restorative Yoga. What is this, I asked? Well, she responded, you lay on the floor, completely supported and rest. I was not excited by this, in fact, it sounded ridiculous. I was already laying around all day, why would I spend MORE time doing this?
What I didn’t know, in that moment, was that Restorative Yoga was and could be, so much more than just laying on the floor. I did get myself back to the studio, about a month later. I walked into class and there was the lovely teacher, David. His voice was kind and understanding. He proceeded to guide us through 4-5 asana and he would come over and offer me extra support, for my arms and legs. It was in Reclining Butterfly, Supta Baddha Konasana, that I had my first true healing experience. It was pretty wild. I saw soft golden light, I experienced a sweet voice in my mind, letting me know all would be ok, and I cried and cried. He let me remain in that asana, while others moved on. His support was the reason that I was able to let go, begin to heal and come closer to the pain within my self. I felt completely safe.
I had no idea that I was in any emotional pain at all. I was not aware that the trauma I experienced growing up, was now living in my tissues. I had never given myself permission to slow down, in part, because I knew it could be painful. But with David there, supporting me with his kind heart, voice and his seeing my discomfort and supporting that too, I could stay. And stay I did. That afternoon, I got all the props, bolster, blocks, blankets, and began my daily practice of reclining butterfly, which I still practice to this day. I am sure, that this practice saved my life.
Why is Restorative Yoga of value to me?
Not only because of my own healing experience, but now because of reports from thousands of students and clients I have supported in practice. I find that most of us push ourselves plenty. We push into experience, we push away from experience. We cling, we avert. But how often are we given permission to dive in, to sink in, to our own hearts and our own needs. How often are we supported in the arising and passing of ALL feelings and thoughts? One of the reasons that I lead trainings in Restorative Yoga is because we do not receive enough training in this modality, in our 200 hour training programs. Throw a bolster down and you are good to go, right? My experience 21 years ago was particularly healing because David fully supported my body. I felt safe, cocooned, seen. My nervous system could relax, my endocrine and immune systems could follow suit. My psoas could soften and years of held pain could release, sweetly and fully. My work with Judith Lasater and Leeann Carey just solidified my belief. They both teach in a way that encourages the complete support of the student, but we must train our eyes to see where support might be needed. This means more blankets under the joints of the body, adjustments of height of props and use of sandbags and blankets on the body. The student should be a comfortable as possibly, with little to no stretch sensation. This is why Yin and Restorative are completely different practices.
I have now been guiding students in Restorative healing for over 18 years. My restorative classes, workshops and trainings are my best attended classes and I believe it because of the level of care that I offer, along with the use of loving kindness meditations and breath work. I have had the honor and pleasure of watching hundreds of students heal themselves, through restorative practices, no pushing, just being. Please join me for another wonderful, fun and eye opening weekend of Restorative Yoga!
In this March training at One Down Dog, all students are welcome. You do not need to be a yoga teacher. In fact, I encourage anyone in the health fields to join us as it is fabulous to integrate Restorative into therapy, nursing, PT and OT, just to name a few. If you are a teacher, learn to support the body/mind/hearts of your students even more fully and successfully. You will receive 2 manuals for this training as it is level 1/2 and we will review the basics and foundational asana as well as delve into some of the more interesting and fun asana that can be used in therapeutics. We will discuss trauma, resourcing, Metta meditations, Yoga Nidra and more. I love discussions and often you, the students, inform the training greatly with what your particular interests are. You may also earn CEU’s through YA, if you need them, in taking this course.
Thank you for being a part of the Relaxation Revolution! With Metta and Restorative Yoga, we CAN heal the world. Let’s begin…..”
Samantha Akers, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, CMT, MFRT