5 Simple Morning Rituals to Uplift Your Mind, Body and Spirit
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
The subtle beauty that occurs each morning, as the earth transitions from darkness to light, is so often filled with dread or, at the very least, busyness and rushing that we miss it altogether. According to the science of Ayurveda, by waking up at one and a half hours, or at least twenty minutes, before the sun rises, you experience “special energy in the air.” This special energy makes it easier to get out of bed, as opposed to waiting until after the sun rises, which can make you feel lethargic or, as many of us have experienced, irritable and anxious. This pre-sunrise time, which is referred to as Brahma-muhurata (“the time of Brahma”), is said to be when “hope, inspiration, and peace” are manifested in the universe.
With the universe calm and your mind fresh, you can leverage this additional time for yourself, allowing it to be hugely beneficial not just for your physical body, but for your emotional and spiritual well-being too.
Because we’re so accustomed to our daily schedules, following the same routine every day as we prepare for work or help to get kids ready for school, carving out extra time each morning simply to care for yourself can feel groundbreaking. For most people, these additional twenty minutes can feel almost like two hours, especially when they spent wisely. And, even when you’re “doing things” that very well could be considered just same-old-same-old parts of the day, by approaching them to be mindful, that they are something more, something special, you begin to unveil a whole new world, one where everything starts to be steeped in magic.
5 Simple Morning Rituals for Mind, Body and Spirit
At their very core, rituals are designed to feel sacred; a prescribed way to honor something greater than yourself. Whether your early morning rituals are done to bring yourself closer to God, Spirit, Universe, or as an acknowledgment of the beauty of a new day, each one has the opportunity to craft your day, setting both the tone and the underlying theme for everything that comes next.
1. Start a Sadhana Practice
With a spiritual yoga practice, each and every sadhana is unique to the practitioner, which means you can tailor it to be exactly what you need to feel your best in the morning. To begin, make sure you are practicing in a space that feels sacred and inviting. Even something as simple as bringing in fresh flowers or lighting a candle can transform your living room or bedroom. Try incorporating asana, pranayama, and meditation to your sadhana practice. Try sticking to the same routine before switching to something new in order to truly feel the total benefits.
2. Make Tea
Homemade chai is actually very simple to make. The beauty of starting your day with this practice is that it awakens all of your senses (the smell while it simmers is intoxicating), while also forcing you to slow down. Mindfully choosing your ingredients, patiently standing by as the water boils, and then steeping the tea is a meditation in its own right. And, the best part, you get to enjoy the ritual of drinking homemade tea when you’re finished.
Journaling is such a powerful morning practice that I often incorporate it into my sadhana practice. But, even on its own, journaling is a simple, always accessible form of ritual that will help you clear your mind for the day. Oftentimes as I journal I discover a mantra for my day, a simple word or phrase becomes my focus and intention behind everything I do. This type of clarity helps me to see the big picture as I face challenges during the day.
4. Drink Warm Water
Instead of making a cup of coffee, the first thing you reach for in the morning, choose warm water with lemon or lime instead. According to Ayurveda, the first thing you drink sets the entire tone for your day. By choosing warm citrus water you don’t just stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, but you also get a boost of vitamins and minerals from the lemon or lime, which are found to be beneficial for digestion as well. You can add local honey to lemon water or pure maple syrup to lime water for extra benefits, and a sweet start to your day.
5. Massage Your Body
There are, of course, a million different ways to do this and you’ll find one that speaks to you specifically as you start to research the variety of methods and modalities. Depending on how much time you have each morning, you can make this self-massage as quick or as decadent as you like. While a full body massage with oil is a beautiful ritual, not all of us will have time for this practice each and every day. Instead, opt for a simple face massage, paying special attention to the third eye and the ears. A foot massage is another great point of focus for your morning ritual as it helps to stimulate the entire body.
Personally, one of the most transformative practices I do each morning is taking a cold shower. Not only does this (really) wake you up, but it completely shifts your energy and increases your circulation. To help soften the “blow,” I cover my body in oil (like sesame or coconut) before stepping into the water. Even two minutes can pull you out of emotional blues and set yourself up for a beautiful day ahead.
START YOUR MORNING RITUAL
5 Kundalini Morning Rituals That Will Change Your Life
I found myself asking again and again, what is this and how have I not known about these practices before?
Although my Vinyasa practice continues to be steady, for the past year, I have changed up my morning routine to include several new Kundalini morning rituals. These rituals don’t just make me feel great, but I am not exaggerating when I say that they have really changed my life. The bouts of depression and anxiety I used to experience, especially postpartum, have disappeared. Not only do I feel brighter and more radiant, but my mind is clearer. I’m more even-tempered. I see more. And I’m experiencing more success than ever.
Here are the five most powerful Kundalini morning rituals I do regularly, daily if possible. Although you’ll feel results immediately, it takes thirty to forty days of consistent practice to really start changing your life. And, believe me, it will change your life.
- Cold Showers: Although it was one of the hardest rituals to get used to, cold showers are now part of my daily routine. I start with dry brushing and then coat my body in coconut oil. Then I get under the cold water, allowing it to hit my face and chest. I’ve found that you can massage your body, from the soles of your feet to your shoulders and neck, to help keep you warm (and to give you something to do). Even just thirty seconds under the cold water will change everything. And, according to Guru Jagat, cold showers are one of the best practices for glandular health, anti-aging, increased energy, and mental alertness. They will also improve the condition of your skin – you really do “glow” afterward!
- Subagh Kriya: This powerful sequence takes about twenty minutes from start to finish. It is said to be an incredibly effective way to bring more abundance and prosperity to your life. The whole sequence is done seated and involves various hand movements and chanting. You can find videos of this sequence to follow along with online at first, but after a few times doing it, you’ll learn how to do it yourself. The impact this has had on my professional life is astounding. I never start my day without doing this practice.
- Breath of Fire: This is one of the most powerful practices I do. Designed to reset your glands and hormones, this pranayama technique brings your entire body back into balance. Although it is sometimes taught with only an emphasis on the exhale, in Kundalini, the emphasis is equal on both the inhalation and exhalation. It is a powerful, rapid breath through the nose, but it is sustainable. Most Kundalini teachers recommend you practice breath of fire for at least seven minutes to reap the most benefits.
- Sat Kriya: One of the most essential practices in the Kundalini technology system, Sat Kriya is a simple breath meditation that helps to energize your body and increase your radiance. To practice it, sit on your heels, bringing your arms overhead. Interlace your fingers and release the index finger, squeezing the palms together. As you pull your navel in powerfully, you mentally chant “Sat.” As you exhale and release the belly, you repeat, “Nam.” Just three minutes of this kriya can elevate your awareness and energy. I do this practice in the morning, but also throughout the day when I feel like I need a boost. If I need more after the first three minutes, I’ll keep adding more three-minute rounds until I feel ready to take on whatever is next in my day.
- Frog Pose: This simple exercise is a lot harder than it looks, which is why I love to do it in the morning – it makes me sweat! To begin, you start in a squat position with the knees wide and the heels up. As you exhale, you come to stand, looking towards your thighs. As you inhale, you look forward and return to the frog squat. You can go as fast or as slow as you like. I’ll do at least 26 of these each morning, although many times I’ll go for three or more minutes. Although your legs might shake, keep going! The energy that will flood your body when you’re done is amazing. And I’ve found it’s a great way to shift my mood quickly, too.
While much of Kundalini yoga will feel strange at first, especially if you are used to different styles of yoga, I’ve learned to love it. Not only are the results of Kundalini morning rituals astounding, but almost everything is accessible, which means I don’t have to “feel” like doing yoga to do it. And, because the practices are fast, there’s no excuse to add them to your morning routine!