Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Morning Ritual: Five Yogic Habits for a Stress-Free Day

Sleepy Kid in the Morning Sunbeams
I am a big advocate of peaceful mornings.  When we start our day with peace, we create an opportunity for a stress-free day.  Here are five yogic habits that might just help you create a peaceful morning rhythm.  

1.)  Rise and shine.  Begin your day with the cool earth-energy that lingers before daybreak. Savor this stillness.  Prepare to be happy and shine.

2.)  Take it slow. Instead of hitting the floor running, take a few minutes to wake up.  Sit up, take a few deep breaths, and set an intention for a peaceful day.  Consider saying a verse like this ancient Indian mantra: "On the tip of my fingers is prosperity and abundance (goddess Lakshmi); in the middle of my hand is eloquence and learning (goddess Saraswati); at the base of my hand is divine power (goddess Gauri).  In the morning, a vision of energy in my hands." 

3.)  Cleanse.  Instead of racing (or schlepping) out to the coffee maker, consider the advice of ancient yogis, step into the bathroom, and say goodbye to yesterday.  Empty your bowels, brush, floss, and scrape that fuzzy tongue.  Ayurveda interprets tongue-fuzz as a sign of undigested toxins lurking in the digestive tract.  Unless we scrape, it's reabsorbed while eating or drinking.  Next, it's time for a cool shower.  Too much steam makes us sleepy -- a cool shower wakes up the body.

4.) Meditate.  Oodles of evidence now exists in support of the benefits of meditation.  Some of the health benefits include stress reduction, better sleep, lower blood pressure, an increased sense of well-being, and increased neuroplasticity.  To begin, borrow a pillow from your couch, put your tush on the cushion, and breathe.  It's that simple.  Just sit for a few minutes each morning and focus on your breath instead of your thoughts.  For instruction on mindfulness meditation, click here.  For instruction on Zen practice, click here.

5.) Step Outside.  Take a few minutes each morning to connect with nature.  Step into your garden or onto your patio and absorb some of the cool, new day.  Stand in Mountain Pose for a few minutes with your feet rooting down into the earth.  Notice the color of the sunlight and the sensation of morning air in your lungs.  Feel the freshness of the hour.  Instead of plopping them in front of the tube, invite your kids to join you outside.  Take just one breath together, smile, then quietly say, “Good morning, world!” Take this stillness into your day.

A few small changes in your routine might just make a big difference.  Beginning your day with peace in your heart is certainly a step in the right direction.  As Patanjali, compiler of the Yoga Sutras, writes, “Peace can be reached through meditation on the knowledge which dreams give.  Peace can also be reached through concentration upon that which is dearest to the heart.”
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