Badass Morning Flow
I get it. Leaving the warm cocoon of your comforter before the sun is up feels unappealing. I've been known to hit snooze a few times before coaxing myself out of bed and on to my mat. Some days are easier than others but I've found that starting my day with mindful movement completely transforms the way I move through my life. Way back when, I used to start my day off with a run because I found a state of flow in running unlike anything else. Now, I feel much better when I give myself ten minutes in the morning to move through an asana sequence that addresses any tightness or kinks I feel. Here's four reason why starting your day off with a mindful movement practice will turn you into a total baddass.
Wipe the slate clean. I've done it more times than I can count. I go to sleep with the lingering tensions, expectations, and short comings of my day and I wake up realizing that my dreamworld has not erased those feelings. That weight can add up to overwhelming anxiety and depression over time. When we ruminate on the past, we often become depressed. When we fixate on the future, we become anxious. The yoga practice and any mindful movement brings us back into the present moment. Breathe. Let go of what happened before. Shed the masks and layers that accumulate throughout our lives. I often ask my students "how would you move if no one was telling you how? Who would you be if no one was telling you who?" Particularly first thing in the morning, I find that if I shed the "shoulds" I go into the rest of my day allowing for the possibility of anything to happen.
Set an intention for your day. "Where attention goes, energy flows." The things we focus on are the places in our lives that we see change. We set an intention at the beginning of a yoga practice so, why not for your day? This is not so that you can place a value judgement on yourself, but to start to integrate mindful behavior into the whole of your day. What qualities would you like to cultivate today? What types of behavior are you trying to be mindful of? In the controlled environment of our practice, it is easier to notice the thought and behaviors patterns that arise when we encounter moments of stillness or challenge. Do those thoughts and actions support the intention we set for practice? Cultivating the ability to notice without placing a value judgement on ourselves has tremendous repercussions off the mat. When we set intentions for our day and compassionately notice if we are acting in a way that supports our intention, we give ourselves a space to evolve into the next version of us.
Tune in to the subtle energy shifts that happen moment to moment, breath to breath. The yoga practice is about noticing the specifics. What is happening in my physical body? How is my energetic body responding to these new set of circumstances? Most of our lives we spend responding to stimuli, whether external or internal. We practice mindfulness and tune into the deeper layers of our energetic self. This shift in consciousness at the beginning of the day can effect the way we respond to challenges in the rest of our life, whether it's train delays, work problems, or disagreements with our significant other. Maybe that fourth cup of coffee isn't helping me focus. Maybe its the five minute walk to and from the coffee shop that is helping me clear my head.
Move Early. Move Often. Especially if you have a typical 9-5, most of the day is spent sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer or smart phone. Starting the day by moving can establish habits of good posture, full diaphragmatic breathing, and even making smarter food choices. The spine is the biggest highway in our bodies, transmitting messages from the brain to every other part of us. Yoga focuses on the healthy alignment of the spine, which even after a few minutes of practice can help us feel more energized. When we start our day with more energy, we are more likely to make healthy choices and move more often throughout the day.
Below is a ten minute practice that I use often to start my day. It incorporates easy twisting and heart-opening to stimulate the heart and solar plexus chakras, leaving you feeling energized, focused, and ready to take on the day.