As the philosopher Will Durant once said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
By now, you may have given up on health goals you set for yourself for 2021. (January 18 has been dubbed “quitter’s day,” since it’s the day people are most likely to give up on resolutions they set for themselves.)
We know firsthand how hard forming habits that stick can be — especially during the mess we’ve been living through. But if you’ve fallen so out of sync with your routines that you’re not feeling like yourself, you owe it to your well-being, and to the future version of yourself, to pick up where you left off.
One great way to start forming healthier habits is to think about how you’re starting your day. What you do first thing after opening your eyes sets the stage for the rest of your day. Plus, it’s easier to build even more new habits on top of existing habits (a strategy called “habit stacking”).
Looking for inspiration as you embark on creating a more meaningful morning routine? Here’s how some of our beloved teachers start their days.
Donna: Take your mornings back
I used to wake up and head right to my coffee machine after brushing my teeth and scrolling through what on earth may have happened overnight on Twitter.
I decided to take my mornings back and have added something new to my morning routine: lots and lots of water, followed by very simple breath work and NO peeking at ANY devices.
I wake up and drink 32 ounces of water, and then I sit up in my bed and do 20 or so minutes of simple, deep breathing exercise — 5 count inhales, 5 count exhales, holding space for the count of 4, repeat. All the breathing is through my nose, and while I often drift into thoughts of day, I also find myself and come back more readily than normal.
When I do make it to the kitchen for my latte (I still love that habit), I feel calm, hydrated, and honestly full of energy without the angst of media on my mind.
Vicky: Do what feels good
My morning routine has changed frequently during the pandemic. I believe it is important to not force yourself into a routine that doesn’t feel good.
Currently, I start my day with 5-10 minutes of breathing after I wake up, which has been a welcome meditation during these cold months. I wake, stretch and set a timer on my phone and lie back and breathe. It ensures that I get in some quiet time before I do anything else. It also allows me time to “wake up” before I actually start moving.
After that I make my coffee, sit with my husband until he heads out with the dogs, and if I am not teaching yoga, I again set a timer and stretch for 5-10 minutes (in my pajamas).
My standard routine is:
- Child’s pose
- Down dog
- Pigeon (both sides)
- Low lunge to runner’s stretch (both sides)
- Down dog
- Urdvha Hastasana
- Eka pada galavasana prep (standing/balancing figure 4)
This 10-20 minutes sets me up for a successful day. When I miss it, I miss out!
Lauren: Yoga first
I know this sounds cliche for a yoga teacher, but my morning routine is yoga. It might not be the first thing I do every morning, but It’s something I do every morning.
My introduction to yoga was through Mysore Ashtanga yoga, which is traditionally practiced each morning at sunrise. It showed me the magic in starting my day by creating a connection to my body and breath while the world was coming to life around me.
I initially committed to 30 days of rising with the sun to practice, and 16+ years later, it’s still how I start my day.
I don’t always have time for a full practice each morning. But I’ve made it a habit to step on to my mat every morning. To move. To breath. Even for a few minutes. And it sets the tone for the rest of my day.
Danielle: Avoid mindless scrolling
When I wake up, I either read or journal my stream of consciousness. To combat mindless scrolling first thing in the morning, I deleted the Instagram app from my phone so I’m only able to access the app from my laptop.
This small change has had a huge impact.
Liz: Take in the sunrise
Ideally, I am up at 6 a.m. On top of the typical hygiene routines most of us begin our day with, I must splash cold water on my face three times.
Then it goes like this:
Drink a mason jar of water.
On my best days, I am awed to giddiness by the colors of the sunrise over the water.
Sit in front of the fireplace to meditate for 5-10 minutes peeking at the sky over and over.
Gentle stretching for 10-15 minutes.
Roll around on the therapy balls for 10 minutes.
More peeking at the sky.
Then I sit on the couch with hot coffee with turmeric and cinnamon in my favorite LBI mug and watch the sky pale and the ball of fire rise through the trees.
On cloudy days, I sit and pretend the sun is rising.
Wait for my youngest to wake up and give me a big hug.