The word “sacred” is a little something like the world “holy” (in the best sense of the word), and however you look at it, it is an orientation toward the Divine. Fortunately, your interpretation of Divine solely belongs to you, and in my case is represented by the Self. All acts that bring me closer to myself as a reflection of big Self, that invite me into the resonance that is nearest to me, that coax me out of false interpretations of who I am and toward this universal feeling of connectedness… well, they are sacred.
I find it most worthwhile to treat as many acts as possible as sacred throughout any given day. I have taken to a morning ritual that helps me to feel more connected upon waking, setting the tone for a day grounded in self-care and sweet moments.
Here are the ways that I add depth to my days by beginning them with a great tending to myself. Bit by bit, these rituals are helping me to feel more OK, regardless of the circumstances of my life. And isn’t that what we all need?
The first thing I do every morning (and, yes, before picking up my phone) is splash my face with cold water, and spray it with rose water (alongside a deep inhalation). This reminds me I am alive to live another day.
Then, I lay out my mat and set up an altar in front of it. The altar is highly dependent upon my mood, and usually contains treasures and gifts I’ve gathered from around the world. Today, it holds a black, scented candle that was given to me in Tulum, Mexico, a vibrant red flower, and a quartz crystal sphere. Sometimes, I use statues of deities from the Indian Pantheon, as they are the most resonant with me stemming from a dedicated yoga and chanting practice.
This brings us to chanting. When I get onto my mat, I chant a mantra. Lately, I like to dance or sway while I am chanting to free some of that morning stiffness. Some of the mantras I work with include “Om Namo Lakshmi,” “Om Namah Shivaya,” and “Hey Ma Durga.” I choose my mantra based on the sort of energy that I would like to invoke for the day.
Now, I move. I ease my body open and awake with 5–10 rounds of sun salutations, always adapting the flow to my current needs. I can literally feel my body’s gradual expansion, spaciousness and attentiveness, and this tends to translate to a lightness of being.
Now, I sit on my cushion for 10 minutes. And see what happens.
Now the time is right for warm, lemon water. This feels like a cleansing of the palate, a preparation for my digestive system to take on the day’s fare, and another way that I respect my body.
When I fix breakfast, and my bowl sits before me (often avocado toast or banana pancakes), I hover my hands above it and offer a blessing to the Earth for its bounty and to all of the hands that took part in bringing this nourishment to my body. Then I take a big breath, and dig in.
This is just how my morning ritual is manifesting right now, but it’s all about you, your needs, and what helps you to feel inspired. You might incorporate oil pulling, abhyanga (Ayurvedic self massage), journaling, a gratitude practice, a tea ritual, etc… How do you start your day?
Photo by Ali Kaukas
Andrea Manitsas—affectionately called “Anj”—is a yoga teacher based in San Francisco and Berkeley, where her Oms resonate down the block and around the corner. She is known for a bhakti-filled class with a whole lotta soul and a fierce flow. Andrea also writes and edits. And travels—a lot. She takes her teaching on the road with yoga retreats around the warm world.