What does your morning routine look like? Some of us are lucky enough to brush our teeth and hair, saving the primping for the morning commute. Could you imagine doing 19 things before you eat breakfast (and grunting while you grind coffee beans doesn’t count)?
The ancient medical system of Ayurveda outlines 19 sequential steps to the Morning Routine. We understand you may be skeptical, 19 sounds like an awful lot, but you’ll be surprised at how many of these you do already.
Even if you don’t have time for all, don’t underestimate the power of a consistent daily practice. Do a handful of the steps that work for you. You may find that certain parts of the routine have a particularly positive effect on your overall wellbeing.
Here are the 19 steps in order:
1. Wake Up. Sounds pretty easy right? Well, the kicker is getting up early. Somewhere between 4:30 am and 6 am. Hey, you have 18 more steps to get through!
2. Prayer or Words of Thanks. This can be short, quick and mental if you don’t want to make them verbal.
3. Wash. Start with your face, mouth and eyes. Water will do. Easy so far?
4. Drink Water. Get at least a full glass and add some freshly squeezed lemon. This will eventually replace coffee, giving you an energizing start to the day. It also helps to get your large intestines moving for the next step.
5. Evacuation. No, it’s not a fire alarm drill! We mean your bowels. In Ayurveda, it’s pretty important to move your bowels every day, and it’s preferable in the morning.
6. Scraping Your Tongue. Use a metal tongue scraper to remove the build-up of bacteria from your tongue that occurs naturally each night. Your coworkers will thank you.
7. Clean Your Teeth. Ayurveda suggests the use of a Neem toothpaste. Chewing on a neem twig has also been shown to be effective if you’re into chewing twigs first thing in the morning.
8. Gargling and Swishing. You may have heard of this as “oil pulling” and sesame oil is preferred for about 15 minutes of swishing.
9. Chewing. It’s not time for breakfast just yet. Chew some seeds and afterward spit them out as a paste. Brush your teeth again without toothpaste.
10. Nasya. This oiling of the nose involves massaging the inner nostrils. There is a specific oil blend for this that is most commonly called ‘nasya oil’. Yes, now you have to add nose oil to your shopping list.
11. Karna Purana. This time, we oil the ears. Use a few drops of sesame oil into each ear. Give a minute or two for the oil to settle in.
12. Abhyanga. You don’t want to leave out any part of your body. We suggest using sesame oil for this whole body massage. It’s important to do this before you shower so that the excess is washed off.
13. Shower. We’re pretty sure you have this one covered.
14. Dress. Ditto.
15. Scents and Perfumes. Essential oils are generally considered the best option here. If you’re still feeling sleepy by this stage, you can use particular oils to enliven your energy, pepping yourself up with peppermint.
16. Asana. This doesn’t have to be a strict hour-long yoga practice. The main idea is this: move mindfully. One pose can be mindful.
17. Pranayama. Different breathing techniques help us to focus, calm our mind, lift our energy or ground our thoughts.
18. Meditation. You aren’t on your own here: there are many tools available to help us meditate (Don’t forget our delicious Meditation Challenge!). The best thing we can do is to practice consistently. It might just be 5 minutes but the key is to do some length of time each day.
19. Breakfast. Hurray – It’s time to eat! Make it count.
You can experiment a little and try each of the above steps for a couple of weeks before you make a truly informed decision. Even just incorporating a few of these mindful steps can help to bring that extra alertness and focus and freshness to your morning.
The biggest challenge to establishing these healthy routines can be finding the time! Persistence and an early bedtime are the keys to the long-term success of redesigning your morning habits. We all have the potential to become morning people…it may just take a few more steps for some of us.
Now you have 19 options!