To say I’m not a morning person would be a gross understatement, but it hardly feels like the choice has been my own. Each night I routinely beg my consciousness to wake me up at 7:30am every morning with “ample amounts of energy,” only to find myself struggling to rise the next day, rolling over and continuously pressing snooze on my physical and mental alarm.
Simply put, I struggle. A lot.
I firmly believe that once you have your morning routine down, the rest of your day is bound to be full of productivity and optimism.
One piece of information I’ve always been privy to and will never forget is the benefit of waking up 2 hours before you have to leave the house. This is a common habit ‘successful’ people have adopted. Doing this ensures you have some ‘me’ time, especially if you have a family where your evenings are occupied playing catch-up with your children and/or spouse.
The moment you put the needs of others above your own most basic ones is the moment you enter into the game of catch-up with yourself. Avoid putting yourself on the back burner, because the lower we put ourselves on our list, the less effective we are, and that includes in our efforts to help those around us. Taking time for yourself is vital to the stability of your mind.
So if you’re anything like me in the mornings, you may want to give these next few tips a try.
1. Tongue Scraping
This ancient Ayurvedic practice boasts a number of benefits, including strengthening your tongue’s palate. A more sensitive palate means you need to use less salt and sugar in your food to get the same flavour.
Tongue scraping also removes the Ama from your physiology, an accumulation of toxic residue in the mind-body, and it helps to stimulate the internal organs, improve digestion by increasing your sense of taste, and cleanse the body and increase mental clarity by reducing toxins from the head.
It’s best to do this right in the morning before consuming any food or drink, as it improves the communication between your food and your body by removing any coating that is interfering with that connection.
According to The Charaka Samhita, “tongue scrapers should be made of gold, silver, copper, tin and brass and should be non-sharp and curved, so as not to injure the tongue.” High quality stainless steel is also acceptable.
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Start by getting one of these funny looking devices for scraping your tongue. Begin with 7-14 gentle strokes from back to front. You can rinse in between if there is a lot of accumulation. If you find you are gagging, you are most likely reaching too far back and too hard, so start a little closer to the front of the mouth and see if that feels better.
I know you’ve heard this before and I’m going to say it again. Meditation is the key to maintaining a healthy balance between your mental state and the state of the world. So yes, this is me harping on you to sit down and meditate. It is one of the oldest known methods of achieving mindfulness, and it became prevalent in the second half of the 1st millennium BC in India and China.
One of the best times to meditate is in the morning because we are already in a relatively calm state, unburdened by the happenings of the day and undistracted by all our duties. It’s easier for our minds to slip into an altered state at this time. I wouldn’t recommend sitting in bed and doing this, however. Rise up, stretch, and then go to a separate room where you can get comfortable and relax (without falling back asleep). If you’d like to incorporate a stretch and meditation, then yoga is another great way to ease your mind and body.
Meditation offers us a fun way to set the stage for the rest of the day. You can use your meditation as an opportunity to Visualize. You can imagine how you’d like the day, week, or even the coming months to go, and see yourself accomplishing your goals.
3. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling, also known as kavala or gundusha, is an ancient cleansing and detoxifying technique from Ayurvedic medicine that dates back over 3,000 years. This practice helps to draw toxins from your mouth by gathering up all bacteria, fungi, and viruses within the oral cavity. It’s been known to fight against gingivitis and headaches, whiten teeth, increase energy, and improve skin tone.
Here’s how it works: Take a tablespoon of oil — traditionally sesame oil, but olive or coconut oil works as well — and put it in your mouth. Swish the oil around your mouth and in between your teeth for 20 minutes, then spit it out.
Do not swallow the oil or all that work will have been wasted, because you’ll just be ingesting all the toxins you worked so hard to remove. You can rinse with fresh water or, better yet, brush your teeth right after.
4. Dry Brush
Our largest organ on our body is our skin. It absorbs whatever we put onto it and is responsible for 25% of our body’s detoxification efforts each day. It’s full of nerves, glands, and cell layers.
By brushing your skin you not only help to detox the body, but also improve circulation, reduce cellulite, stimulate your lymphatic system, increase cell renewal, reduce stress, and even improve digestion and kidney function.
Use a proper dry brush that’s made for brushing your skin. Start by brushing on dry skin in a circular motion from the soles of your feet up to your heart and then your head. The heart centre is important to focus on because most of our lymphs live there. Avoid your genitals, breasts, and face. You can do this before working out or taking a shower. Take your time with this process and enjoy each moment — it can become quite addictive!
5. Self-Massage With Black Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is traditionally used for abhyanga, an ayurvedic self-massage. Ancient ayurvedic scholar Charaka claims that it is the best of all oils because it is rich in linoleic acid and has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. This practice helps stimulate and balance the energy points in the body and can help keep the skin, hair, nails, and joints healthy. If you do not have sesame oil you can use other oils as well.
Massages are a great way to naturally wake the physical body. By doing a self massage, you are re-familiarizing yourself with your physical being, all while giving yourself some love.
Get some black sesame oil online or in a health food store. Begin by gently warming the oil on a burner or even with your hands and then massage your limbs and work your way towards your heart centre. Warm black sesame oil is great for penetrating the skin and lubricating joints.
6. Grounding & Sun Gazing
The idea behind ‘Earthing,’ otherwise known as grounding, relates to the intense negative charge carried by the Earth. This charge is electron-rich, theoretically serving as a good supply of antioxidants and free radical-destroying electrons. Earthing serves as a natural and “profoundly effective environmental strategy” against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hyper-coagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease.
All you have to do is walk outside barefoot for 10 minutes and you will immediately feel a sense of ease. While doing this, you can also incorporate the ancient Egyptian practice of sun gazing.
Sun gazing has its own array of benefits as well, including:
- Relief of stress and tension
- Increased energy
- Boosts production of the feel-good hormones serotonin and melatonin
- Improved eyesight
- Reduces hunger pains — body is completely nourished by the sun (Some people claim to have been able to take part in this practice and not eat anything during the entire process, which usually lasts about 9 or 10 months)
- Stimulation of the pineal gland
- Increased size of pineal gland
- Releasing of internal blockages
- Increased human potential
You must do it during the very first or very last 45 minutes of sun each day. Start with 10 seconds and then build up from there. Do not practice this at any other hours of the day, as you can seriously damage your eyes from the sun’s UV rays.
7. Hot & Cold Shower
This is a form of hydrotherapy practiced by the ancient Essenes who were known to plunge into the cold waters of the Dead Sea. Hydrotherapy use has been recorded by ancient Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilizations.
Cold showers alone host a number of benefits. They can:
- Improve your immune system
- Stimulate circulation
- Ease stress and depression
- Improve hair and nails
- Increase alertness
- Alleviate muscle soreness
Coupling this with a hot shower either before or after also helps to detox and cleanse the body, hydrates cells, and improves overall function of major organs.
There are many different ways to do this. An easy method I myself have tried is doing 30 seconds cold followed by 30 seconds hot before going into my regular shower. Others suggest starting very hot and then quickly dousing your whole body, being sure to cover your neck and head, then decreasing it slowly to freezing cold, covering your body in the same way, and then repeating 7 times. Repetition is important to get the full effect.
Your Nighttime Routine Counts
While your morning routine helps to set your day, your evening routine is what determines how easily you can wake up in the morning.
Here are some tips to ensure you get a great night’s sleep and ensure you have a spectacular morning;
- Limit your screen time before bed and turn off screens at least 2 hours before you plan to sleep. The blue light emitted from your phone can keep you from falling asleep by preventing your brain from producing melatonin.
- Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before bed as well as anything high in sugar.
- Have a spoonful of raw honey before bed; honey will raise blood glucose while you sleep, allowing for a deeper sleep.
- Do some writing to ease a chattering mind. Try writing down three things you are grateful for each night before bed, so that you can go to sleep with a smile on your face.
- A nice warm epsom salt bath will help alleviate any stress and get your body into a perfectly relaxed state.
Finally, be patient and kind to yourself. I may not be ‘perfect’ and reach my goal each morning, but I definitely am not going to give up on myself either! If I can get at least one of these techniques in I know eventually I’ll be able to incorporate more, and benefit from each one I include.
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