Rise and Shine: Grounding Morning Routines for Autumn
A Morning Grounding Routine for Autumn…
Or any other time life has you spinning in circles.
This week, in my Ayurvedic Yoga classes, I offered my students the intention of exploring concepts of routine. This group intention came about after a few regular students rushed into the studio late for class. As they hurried in, they were complaining that they have completely lost track of time and their routines. I even watched a few students literally (I mean that in the literal way, not the overused figurative way) run across the parking lot to get to their yoga class in time.
It isn’t a coincidence that more than one student has sprinted up the studio stairs this week, frustrated about not having a grip on his or her daily routine. In fact, right now, during autumn it’s pretty damn normal.
Over the last few weeks, the vata season has made its energetic debut. If you are wondering what in the hell “vata season” is, you can find some insightful details at Banyan Botanicals. However, for the purposes of here and now, just know that vata is the Ayurvedic season (autumn to early winter) in which the heightened energy in the atmosphere causes one’s regular habits, patterns, and routines to shit the bed.
Even if you aren’t schooled in Ayurveda, I venture to assume that you have felt the space cadet-like effects of the frenetic vata season. You might just call it something else: out of it, spacey, anxious, ditzy, forgetful, distracted.
It’s totally normal to feel distracted and spacey this time of year. Really, fall/vata has just begun. So buckle up and giddy up. As we get closer to the holidays, you’ll probably feel it even more. Take comfort in knowing that most people feel the same way.
Just because it is normal though, doesn’t mean it is pleasant. What vata does is it pulls us out of our regular patterns and habits. It supplies us with an airy energy that can make it hard to focus and ground, which makes most folks feel a little (or a lot) out of control.
We humans are creatures of routine. Our bodies function out of habit and cycle. You have a sleep cycle. If you are a woman, you have a menstrual cycle. Your digestive system cycles food into waste. The very functions of the human body are founded upon routine.
Plus, think about all of the things you repeatedly do each day, every month, every the year, or in various life stages. Maybe you are like my sweet boyfriend’s dad and eat a bowl of bran every single morning. Or maybe you have a work routine to make sure you get your shiz done on time. Maybe you date different manifestations of the same douche bag over and over.
We live in a world that has seasonal cycles, moon cycles and sunrise and sunset cycle. Get it? Our bodies, our thoughts, relationships, and choices are often based upon cycles of routine. Be as wanderlust, barefoot, and free as you wish. You still have a routine. We all do.
When vata gets our routines all messed up with racing thoughts, poor attention, and too much to do, it doesn’t feel good. When most of our unconscious choices, bodily functions, and even conscious choices are based upon routine, it feels unsteady and ungrounded to be out of a regular pattern.
I should note that getting out of the same old same old can be a good thing. Yes, you should take a new route to work. Most definitely, you should break bad habits. You should stop dating the same d-bag. If trying something new is out of routine, you should definitely do it! There are habits and routines that need to be kicked to the curb.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about here is a daily routine that allows you to live intentionally and fully. I’m talking about a routine that is full of conscious patterns that serve you every day so that you can face the world feeling healthy, grounded, and confident.
One person’s highly structured routine is another person’s disorganized, shit show meltdown. In other words, not every routine works for every person. There is a significant amount of personal accountability involved with developing a routine that works for you and being disciplined enough to follow it. Finding the right routine is your job because only you know what’s best for you. Although holistic health coaches can help. ;)
However, one routine that is crucial for most people is a morning one.
People who routinely wake up and starting their day with healthy habits tend to feel more confident and focused throughout the day. As I had mentioned on my last blog Job Satisfaction: Positive Thinking and Vibrating Higher in the Workplace, when you feel good on the inside, you can do good on the outside. And a morning routine can do just that. Moreover, a morning routine is a way to pacify the craziness of vata so that you can start your day clear-headed.
Building one, short, healthy habit in the morning can help you build another short, healthy routine for later. So if you are on the routine struggle bus (because that jalopy is for real) and spiraling out into the atmosphere from all the vata, start your routine the moment you wake up and start small.
When I first initiated my morning routine, I did one thing: tongue scraping. (It isn’t as torturous as it sounds. You can read more about it below). Then, as that became the norm, I added in another. If you try to start 10 new morning habits at once, there’s a chance you will abort them all and go back to your old vata, routine-less ways.
Pick one. Give it a month. Then, add in another. Be willing to make adjustments. See what works and doesn’t work for you.
Here are a few ideas to get you started. For more ideas, check out my holistic health coaching page and set up an appointment to talk about ways to get yourself into a routine!
Wake up around the same time each day
If you are an early riser Monday through Friday, consider waking up around the same time on the weekends. I know, I know. It’s your time to sleep off that hangover or just sleep for 16 hours. But changing up your sleeping habits for a few consecutive days, can get your sleep cycle pretty effed up.
On your days off, get up around the same time as you would Monday through Friday. Rather than getting right to work or doing something vigorous, use that morning time to relax. Read a book, catch up on your Netflix shows, etc. Allow the time that you would normally be sleeping in to be a time for relaxation. That way, you can laze away, but you aren’t jacking up your sleep cycle too much.
Brusha, brusha, brusha…and scrape
Brownie points if you can name what that’s from in 3, 2, 1…
Our mouths harbor some seriously freaky funk. You already know this. If you eat or drink before taking care of your oral hygiene, you are putting that bacteria and slime right back into your body. Instead, get up, go to the bathroom, and clean yo’ mouth.
If you are down with Ayurveda or if you want to start a new, easy Ayurvedic practice; I recommend using a tongue scraper. It is a small tool that you run across the tongue to lift the muck that the tongue accumulates overnight. Most people prefer a metal tongue scraper. Personally, every metal one I’ve had has rusted or broken. So I use a plastic tongue scraper.
After scraping, brush your teeth.
Drink warm lemon water
Hands down, drinking warm lemon water before ingesting anything else has been one of the greatest things I’ve done for my health.
There are dozens of reasons why warm lemon water is good for you in the morning. It can aid with digestion, hydrate and purify your skin, reduce stomach acid, give you a boost of vitamins, help with congestion, detox your liver, etc.
In my experiences, drinking warm lemon water has done two miraculous things for my health:
It’s a healthy practice that sets a positive tone for the day. When the first thing I ingest is for pure health, the rest of my choices throughout the day are too.
I’ve struggled with excess stomach acid my entire life. When I began drinking warm lemon water, my indigestion went away completely. Bonus: Along with my indigestion, cravings for snacks and crunchy food also disappeared.
It’s easy. Heat up water to a temperature appropriate for tea. If it’s too hot, it takes too long to drink. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a ton of time in the mornings. Squeeze in half of a lemon. Drink. Be awesome.
If you are trying to quiet or calm the excess vata energy, meditation might be in order. Quieting the mind first thing in the morning can help the mind stay quiet during the day.
If you are new to meditating, take comfort that you only need to do it for a few minutes. I like to meditate for only 4 minutes each morning.
You don’t need anything fancy. Just sit in a comfortable seat. Focus on the breath (when you inhale, silently say, “inhale.” When you exhale, silently say, “exhale”). Be still.
Yoga is an act of repetition. We do the same postures and often the same sequences each timefor the purpose of repetition. Getting into the groove of sun salutations, for example, helps you drop into your breath and helps you get grounded.
Doing the same postures repeatedly can help you focus, and it teaches the practitioner to stop and notice—the opposite of what vata does. The postures might feel different from one day to the next. But we only know that if we do it every day. And when we do it every day, we begin to see changes, growth, and new patterns. Plus, it gets you moving, setting a healthy intention for the day.
Lately, my energy has been so high that I have been getting grounded each day with a 10 minute restorative posture. Restorative yoga gets you low to the ground, heavy, and still—all which pacifies vata.
Do your morning rituals everyday
Change only comes with repetition and discipline.
To see the effects of your morning routine, you must do it every single freaking day. You might not feel it right away. But if you stay disciplined and repeat your routine every day, you’ll notice changes. On the off days that you skip your routine, that’s when you will see how crucial your rituals are.
Don’t forget: the days you don’t feel like doing your morning routine or the days you don’t have time are the days that is it most important that you carve out the space and time for it.