What is your morning routine?
Most mornings I wake up by 5:15am with my alarm. I put on a full kettle of water, do a quick glance at email, and head back into my room to pee and scrape my tongue. While the water boils, I meditate, usually for around twelve minutes. Then I drink a big glass of warm water while I make coffee, put away dishes, and create a food plan for the day. My dog Poncho sleeps on his favorite sleeping chair during all of this.
Hopefully, by this time I have to go to the bathroom (Ayurveda says if you’re not pooping within the first thirty minutes of waking then you’re technically constipated). After I do other self-care bathroom stuff - splashing my face a few times with cold water, misting on rosewater spray, oiling my sinuses, and brushing my teeth - I make my bed and do a few simple stretches. Then I drink a little cup of coffee while freewriting for three pages (“morning pages”). Sometimes it’s profound, but usually it’s just mental chatter. I then choose a few tarot cards to help give me a focus for the day.
By this time, it’s around 6:40am and Poncho the dog is staring at me. He continues to stare at me while I roll out my yoga mat. After ten sun salutations, a little core work, a backbend, and a twist, he is whining and pawing to let me know he is serious about our walk. We walk around National Basilica by my apartment while I either talk on the phone or listen to a podcast.
It’s around 8:00am when we get home, and we’re both ready for breakfast. I eat and drink another little cup of coffee while listening to NPR. Then I feed Poncho. If I have to go somewhere, I take a shower after breakfast; otherwise, I jump right into work and shower later before leaving the house.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I’ve kept up a solid morning routine for almost three years, since really dedicating myself to living an Ayurvedic lifestyle. The routine is always changing a little due to my current interests, work demands, and my sometimes-intense travel schedule.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
For a while I was meditating for longer, but I recently added back in time to write my morning pages. I find my life thrives when I give myself the freedom of freewriting in the morning. Meditation is helpful, but having a smaller dose doesn’t seem to lessen its effects too much.
What time do you go to sleep?
Most nights I’m in bed by 10:00pm and asleep before 10:30pm.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
My mother taught me to never go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink, and I uphold her wisdom. I straighten up before going to sleep because I like waking up to a clean apartment.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I always do at least a little exercise before I eat breakfast. It’s gotten to the point where it feels strange to eat without moving a little.
Breakfast is never huge because I like to eat a big lunch. My favorite breakfast is a bowl chia/flax pudding that I soak overnight in coconut milk with raisins and nuts. Plus coffee, always coffee. I gave it up for a few years because it made me jittery, but I discovered last year that I enjoy it again and it doesn’t negatively affect my nervous system if I drink it before lunch.
Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?
I’ve studied a few kinds of meditation but none of them too seriously. Mostly, I just sit and notice and feel. I do alternate nostril breathing. My mind wanders and I bring it back. My practice isn’t fancy but seems to do the trick of keeping me centered.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I always skim my inbox in the morning, but I never answer until later in the day. Morning is my time, and my clients respect that because they respect it for themselves.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
I check it as soon as I get up, but I just give it a quick glance and don’t answer anything (who wants a text at 5:30am?).
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
I’m a devoted warm-water drinker. I have a big glass every morning, as hot as I can handle. I used to add lemon, but I find I prefer it plain. It gives a good flush to my system and helps me poop.
As a self-care coach, I feel it’s my responsibility to let people know they can train their bodies to go to the bathroom by hydrating correctly. I’m jealous of people who go like clockwork upon waking because I’ve had to teach my body. Luckily, I’m pretty regular now. Truly, I believe it’s the best way to start your day.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
On weekends I don’t set my alarm. Often, I’m awake by 6:00am anyway, but I’m always happy to wake up and see it’s 7:30am. I trust my body to take the sleep that it needs.
If I do sleep in, I will skip my morning pages, but I always do some kind of exercise before eating breakfast.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
Yes, I have to adapt my routine a lot because I travel so often. I always start my morning with drinking warm water, scraping my tongue, splashing my face with cold water, and doing at least a little spinal movement (cat/cow [poses] are great).
I find that keeping it simple and focusing on the little things I can do to feel grounded will usually do the trick, and if I try to do too much I lose the inspired feeling of traveling.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I can streamline my morning routine for a couple of days and still feel okay. However, if I skimp on my self-care for too long, I begin to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
I’ve come to understand that my morning routine is linked to my professional success and satisfaction. I hold a lot of space for others’ growth and that space can quickly become depleted if I don’t make conscious time to stay grounded. When I don’t feel good, I’m not much use to anyone else. Last year when I visited an Ayurvedic clinic in India, the doctor told me that as a teacher, my practices need to be twice as strong as everyone else’s. I’m not sure I am quite there, but I work on cultivating more discipline in a joyful way.
I focus on doing the best I can and prioritizing fun over perfection. I tell my clients all the time that they have to create a morning routine that makes them happy. The whole point is happiness, so my practices can’t feel like drudgery. I look forward to getting up early because I like what is ahead of me. My self-care really feels like self-care, which is why I do it so consistently.