What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
When I wrote this article in 2013 I answered this question by saying “If you’re like most people, you probably hit the snooze button a few times and then jump out of bed to begin your day.”
Now, 5 years later, I’d say that most people lay in bed staring at their phones for a few minutes and then jump out of bed. Point being, how you start your day matters and a few simple steps can take you and your day from good to great.
What is a morning routine
Although high performers around the world swear by their 5am wake up call and morning meditation, a morning routine is anything that you do consistently and consciously to prime your body and brain for the day ahead. I say conciously, because waking up alone is not a morning routine, but it is something to be grateful for.
Morning routines and rituals have gotten a lot of attention lately, but it’s not a new phenomena, cultures around the world have honored the morning hours with prayers and rituals for centuries. Before alarm clocks and black out curtains, humans would rise with the sun along with the rest of nature, and bathe in the pure morning qualities of clean air, quiet sounds, and mental clarity.
If you haven’t tried waking with the sun, I highly recommend trying it out. Even the most committed night owls have come to appreciate the early morning magic.
But waking up is just the start…
3 simple steps to jumpstart your day:
1. Roll Rather Than Jump
Decrease stress on your lower back by rolling out of bed rather than shooting straight up. Not only will your body thank you, but your mind will appreciate not getting shocked in the morning. Follow these steps:
- Move yourself close to the edge of the bed while still lying on your back
- Roll onto your side closest to the edge of the bed keeping your shoulder in line with your hips, and bending your knees. Don’t twist your spine.
- Use both hands to push yourself up into a sitting position and let your feet hang off the bed.
- Pause and take a deep breath to wake up the mind and body
- When you’re ready to stand, engage your core, use your arms and legs to push yourself up to standing.
- Straighten both legs at the same time
2. Fold Forward. Get long.
Uttanasana, standing forward bend, wakes up the posterior chain by stretching the hamstrings and elongating the spine. At first Uttanasana can be very intense, however practiced regularly this forward bend offers benefits beyond the physical body. Uttanasana aids in increasing the digestive fire, activating the nervous system, and promoting back health.
Follow these steps for a gentle supported forward bend:
- Start with your feet hip width distance apart
- Bend the knees to protect the lower back and ease tension on the hamstrings
- Keeping the abdominal muscles engaged slowly fold forward until belly is resting on the thighs
- Completely release the head down
- Hold here and breathe for 10 breath cycles. With each exhalation the spine will release tension and slowly elongate
- To come up, keep the chin tucked into the chest and slowly roll your spine up. Taking the shoulders back and down at the top.
- Take a deep breath and step into your day
3. Drink Water
Although you’ve just spent 6-8 hours resting, your body has been hard at work. Much of our natural detoxification processes occur while we sleep. The best way to flush out the body, and get it ready for the day is with water.
Most of us wake up dehydrated and then reach straight for the coffee, dehydrating the body even more. It’s no wonder we spend the morning hours anxious, stressed, and craving sugar. It’s a vicious cycle that we can stop by simply drinking water.
I recommend keeping a full water bottle, like this hydroflask, next to your bed and after doing steps 1 and 2 above, guzzle down at least 16oz of room temperature water.
Ready, set, go…
Add one, two, or all three of the simple steps above to your morning routine and jump-start your day!
As always don’t just take my word for it. Go out there and try it for yourself. Report back and let us know how it goes.
Ritu Riyat is an Applied Yoga and Meditation coach and Diversity and Inclusion leader in Silicon Valley. She creates simple habits to support sustainable health through food, movement, and meditation. Download her free guide to a more mindful life.