Morning Ritual

The first things you do when you wake up in the morning can set the tone for the entire day. Do you find yourself beginning to worry the very moment you awaken? Do you lie in bed dreading the coming hours? The endless workload? The confrontations you know you cannot avoid? The teenagers who refuse to get off the couch despite your constant nagging? The daily hunt for the towels you washed and dried yesterday but are now nowhere to be found? Okay, maybe I'm putting words into your mouth.

My point is: there is a better way.

I was inspired by a fellow yoga teacher to try this very simple morning ritual. It was originally created by another yoga teacher named Geri Larkin.

To begin, she suggests you select a space for your morning ritual. It doesn't need to be anything fancy or spacious. You could use your bedroom, your kitchen or breakfast nook, your yoga space, or your den. Even the bathroom is perfect for this simple ritual. Just choose your space so that each day, when you wake up, you will make your way to the same location for your ritual. In this space, you will need a place to sit and a little room around it. You can light a candle if you wish.

Your ritual begins with some gentle stretching. You can even do this lying down in bed! Or you can stretch while standing up or sitting down. The main idea is to deepen the breath and elongate the spine. I like to use Rising Sun Breath which can be performed in any position: standing, sitting, or even lying down. Simply raise your arms out to the side and then overhead on the inhale. Press your palms together overhead for a brief moment. Then lower the arms on the exhale. Repeat. That's it. As you inhale, think about lengthening the spine and growing taller. As you exhale, keep that length instead of collapsing. I always include Rising Sun Breath in every yoga class I teach because it is such a simple yet effective stretch. Everyone can do it. And it feels fantastic. Especially first thing in the morning.

Next, have a seat. Keep your spine long and tall, even while sitting. Let your hands rest comfortably in your lap. You can close your eyes or not. You can gaze upon your candle or not. Allow yourself to just sit and be. You can focus your attention on your breath, or on the candle flame, or on another image in front of you, or your listen to the sounds in your environment. If your mind is very busy or agitated, I find that counting along with the breath is very calming and helps to quiet the busy mind. Sit like this for a few minutes.

Then give thanks. Each day, think of three things you are thankful for. They can be as simple as the chair, the candle and the breath.

Ending with gratitude is the key to this practice. And to transforming your morning from a litany of worries and problems to an oasis of peace. Just remembering all you have to be grateful for will start your day off on a positive note. And from there, good things are sure to follow.