Vitality The Gift of Building Your Morning Ritual Struggling to get up in the AM? Building a morning routine is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body. By Nicole Lindstrom For more ways to inspire a mindful morning, check out Season 3 of the Wanderlust Speakeasy Podcast, available for free through iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a morning person, how we wake ourselves up is an important aspect of the day. Jumping into emails or scrolling through social (screen time) eliminates the intimacy available to us first thing in the morning. But developing a consistent morning ritual can help us connect deeper with our internal truth and act with greater intent and integrity throughout each day. In words, starting the morning with self care, love, and acceptance helps shift our mental dialogue and allows space for each to flourish within our daily life. Looking to add some routine to your morning? Try out some our tips below: Step 1: Consistency Some days waking up is easy. We find ourselves rolling around well before the alarm clock chimes. Other mornings, we hit snooze until the last possible 10 minutes before we need to be out the door. And in those days, we’re often in a flurry of rushing from one thing to the next. I’ve found that it takes roughly three mornings of waking up at the same time to begin calling your body into action at a desired time. Consistent sleep patterns are key, as is scheduling in time for a morning ritual. Make an adequate bedtime the priority and set your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier then you usually do. Resist the urge to hit snooze. If you struggle with breaking that habit, do some stretching on the floor rather than in your bed. Step 2: Observation of Mind, Body, and Breath Alarm clock or no, those initial moments of “I’m waking up” are a potent time to drop in and observe. Start by noticing the thoughts that come into your mind. What are they saying? Do they make sense? Are there any patterns? Do they make you feel positive or negative? Are they thoughts that serve you or do not? Observe the position you are lying in, from the tip of your toes and slowly move throughout your body to the crown of your head. Ask yourself questions: How do you feel? Where do you feel it? Why? What is tight? What is open? How are you? Where are you? What does that mean to you? What is your internal dialog saying? Be gentle with yourself in your observations. Don’t judge, just allow and watch. See what is there and begin to inquire into the how and why. Pondering the significance to uncover the true meaning for you. Step 3: Move Beyond Thought And into your body. After observing your physical state, your mental state, any feelings and sensations that are present, shift into the experience of being in your body. Begin to move, using these simple stretches and exercises: 1. Roll onto your back. 2. Draw your knees in towards your chest and wrap your arms around your shins. Feel your lower back press against your bed, your sheets resting over you, holding you in the comfort of your own space. 3. Extend your right leg up towards the ceiling, pointing and flexing your foot, drawing circles with your toes. Begin to awaken. Then move to your left side. 4. Roll over into a child’s pose. Sink your hips, extend your fingers long. Reach through the sides of your torso, extend through your sternum. Feel your heart pulse and your body stretch. 5. Rise your hips over your knees for “puppy pose” and open up through your arm pits extending the arms further into a stretch. 6. Press your elbows down and your chest forward, hips back. Sphinx pose. Drop your chin in towards your chest and begin to roll your head from side to side. 7. Shift the hips back towards the heels into child’s pose. Feel your spine move from a bend into a rounded position. 8. Slide your feet onto the floor and come to stand, reaching your arms up towards the sky. Full body stretch. Come up on to the tipi toes and fully extend. Every bone, every muscle, every joint. Repeat the mantra, “I am alive. I am fully and vibrantly alive.” 9. Let the arms come down be your sides and as you inhale reach the arms up towards the sky again, full body stretch. Exhale, extend the arms wide and back down by your sides. Lifting and lowering the arms a few times with your breath. 10. Press your palms together, thumbs at heart center. Take three deep, full breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Step 4: Set Your Space The night before, take the time to set yourself up well for your morning ritual. Clear a space and make it sacred with intent. Set out candles or incense, palo santo or copal, maybe some essential oils. Or hang and set out photos that are important to you. Whatever makes your space feel like the best sense of “you.” In the morning, take a moment to set your space, light your candles, burn your incense, or whatever else you chose to do in order to make the space feel sacred. Step 5: Sit in Meditation Take a seat and sit in meditation for three to 10 minutes. Use a cushion or block to lift your hips above your knees. Sit tall and gentle. If any thoughts or feelings that you do not want are still lingering, inhale “let” exhale “go.” Visualizing a “letting” in of fresh oxygen, a dissipation of tight energy, and a letting “go” of what no longer serves you. Step 6: Cultivate Gratitude Reflect for a moment on the things in your life you are most grateful for. Whatever they may be: family, friends, a floor beneath you feet, a roof above your head, the ability to stand, to breath, or to move your arms above your head. Be clear and specific. Let that sense of gratitude move into your physical experience, coming into the body and spreading out through your limbs. Feel the shift in your energy, in your body. Step 7: Set an Intention In a space of gratitude, focus on what it is your are trying to accomplish. Again, be clear and specific. Articulate your intent in the form of a sentence. Repeat this sentence to yourself three times. Step 8: Move Forward With Conscious Awareness Choose what’s next consciously. Be present as you brush your teeth, your hair, wash your face. Be mindful in making your tea or coffee. Take time to sit and ponder the morning hour without distracting yourself from the moment with screens and outside voices. Read something that lifts you up or write the inner-workings of your thoughts. Ritual alludes to repetition. Set out on your journey slowly, one step at a time, and watch as the path unfolds before you. Explore, move forward, backward, and experiment to find what works for you and what doesn’t. There is no right way. The practice will expand and open over time. And sometimes, it might not feel that way. How does cultivating a morning ritual change your life? What does it shift? There is only one way to find out. Looking for more ways to enhance your morning routine? Check out Wanderlust TV for videos to nurture and inspire your yoga and meditation practices. — Nicole Lindstorm is a writer for Wanderlust. As a native Coloradan, she spends as much time as she can outdoors and jumps on every adventure that comes her way.