Did you know that your morning routine actually begins the night before? Follow this 13-step plan to feel refreshed when you start the day.
1. Don’t stay up too late: Getting in bed by 10 or 10:30 p.m. will help you start the morning off right.
2. Wake up at sunrise: If you are exhausted, sick or elderly, please sleep as long as you like. Upon waking, do not get out of bed right away. Try to be aware of your body and feel grateful to be alive before your toes touch earth. Pray.
3. Drink warm lemon water: This helps to wash the G.I. tract, flushes the kidneys and stimulates peristalsis. If your digestion is sluggish, add 1/2 tsp ginger root powder.
4. Nature calls: Going to the bathroom upon waking will help clear your digestive system. A healthy “motion” will have a soft brown log quality, little odor and will be well-formed (like a banana). Undigested food, foul odor, mucous, excessive dryness or a “pellet-like” quality suggests a digestive imbalance. Altering diet and lifestyle and perhaps using herbs will help better this.
5. Gently scrape your tongue: Buy a silver tongue scraper. Scrape from back to front 5-8 times. The tongue is a mirror of your intestines. When there is a thick white coating on the tongue, it is indicative that ama (toxins) are present. Tongue scraping helps prevent diseases of the oral cavity, improves our ability to taste, gets rids of old food debris, and prevents bad odor in the mouth.
6. Wash the face, mouth, teeth, and eyes: Splash your face with cool water. Wash the eyes with cool water or real-deal rose water. You can also buy an eye cup at most pharmacies and use it for washing the eyes. Massage your gums with sesame oil. This improves oral hygiene, prevents bad breath, increases circulation to gums, heals bleeding gums, and helps us maintain strong, healthy teeth.
7. Mouth detox: Take 1-2 tablespoons of pure sesame oil (not toasted) in the mouth. Gargle and swish until it creates a liquid texture (about 10-15 minutes), then spit out into trash can. This strengthens the teeth, gums, and jaw. It also improves the voice, and is said to remove wrinkles from the cheeks! Ten-15 minutes may sound like a long time, but try swishing it around while you do something else.
8. Use a neti pot: Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to warm water in the pot and drain through each nostril. Afterward, put 3-5 drops of warm sesame oil or ghee in the nostrils to lubricate the nose. This keeps the sinuses clean, improves voice, vision, and mental clarity. Our nose is the door to the brain. Nose drops nourish our prana and enhance intelligence.
9. Abhyanga (Self-massage): Massage nourishes and soothes the nervous system, stimulates lymphatic flow and aids in detoxification. It also improves circulation, increases vitality, nourishes the skin, and promotes body/mind balance.
10. Exercise: One of our greatest allies in moving toward balance, exercise boosts the immune system and is an excellent way to counteract depression. Exercise daily to half capacity. We want to get a little sweaty glow, but not burn out before our day begins.
11. Bathe: Use natural products.
12. Meditate: Begin your day with some form of breath-work and meditation. Start with five minutes and work up to at least 20 minutes daily. I sometimes do my meditation before exercise, which is also fine.
13. Eat breakfast: Let your morning meal consist of simple, whole foods. My favorite breakfast foods include spiced oatmeal with ghee, cooked rice cereal with avocado and an egg or a fresh fruit smoothie with almond milk and spices.
Katie Silcox is the author of the upcoming book, "Healthy, Happy, Sexy - Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women." She's a vinyasa yoga teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner, contributor to Yoga Journal, and a senior teacher within the Sri-Vidya ParaYoga lineage under Yogarupa Rod Stryker.