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.
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!