At this time of seasonal transition, selfcare is key. How can we align with the energy of Spring that supports us moving from Winter hibernation to Spring rejuvenation?
One way is to create a short morning routine. This can seem overwhelming when we’re busy, but carving out this time for yourself can free up head space and help you start the day with a little more pep in your step. It doesn’t have to be very long – a few minutes of mindfulness in the morning goes a long way to creating a positive energetic effect that can last throughout the day. Here are some tips to try:
Wake up before 6am – waking up early, and at the same time each day, helps us align with our natural circadian rhythm (internal clock) and supports better sleep at night. To wake up refreshed try going to bed by 10pm each night and limiting technology for the last hour of your day. You might also try no technology for the first hour in the morning so you can wake up and connect to what you want instead of being pulled into work or relationship before you’ve had a chance to check in with yourself.
Go for a morning walk – exposure to the fresh air and rising sun helps signal your brain that it’s time to start the day. A brisk walk also has cardiovascular benefits, burns calories, improves circulation, increases mental focus, and is a good time to connect with yourself or a special someone. Bonus: if you have a dog they will love this part of your morning routine!
Take a few deep breaths – you can do this from bed, during your walk, on a yoga mat, or in the shower. Noticing your breath helps bring you into the present moment. Slow, mindful breaths help improve oxygen delivery, lower blood pressure, release endorphins, relieve stress, and shift our energy. You might explore counting your breath, extending the exhale, or breathing through alternate nostrils as well as noticing your natural breathing rhythm. Best part about tip #3: it’s the perfect way to wake up and smell the coffee!
Stretch and strengthen – stretching first thing in the morning increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the brain, and has been linked to preventing feelings of tiredness and increased energy levels throughout the day. You might get out a yoga mat or find a comfy spot where you can move your spine through flexion, extension, side bending, and gentle twisting and then move on to gentle stretches of the neck, wrists, arms/shoulders, hips/glutes, legs, ankles and feet. You could target a few spots that need your attention and hold the supported stretches for a few minutes each, or you could do a slow flow from head to toe. Adding a few moments of core engagement to improve balance and stability can be beneficial too. If you’re looking for more guidance and support, you might add a morning yoga or workout class to your routine a few days a week instead of doing this on your own, at home.
Don’t forget to eat breakfast – starting your day with the appropriate fuel is key to sustaining your energy, balancing blood sugar levels, and maintaining a healthy metabolism. You could try oatmeal, eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, berries, or a protein shake to name a few. Experiment with foods you like and their effect on your system, or check with your doctor or an Ayurvedic practitioner for specific dietary recommendations.
Look ahead and map out your mornings according to your schedule. Maybe Monday and Wednesday you take a 30-minute walk, Tuesday and Thursday spend 15 minutes stretching at home, and Friday attend a class or give yourself the day off and just enjoy a few deep breaths before breakfast and your morning coffee. Incorporating even one of the above tips can help you feel more balanced. Here’s to stepping into spring with more energy and ease!
Kristin Fiore is the owner of Down Dog Yoga Center in downtown Kalamazoo, MI. Her supportive approach to teaching Yoga, with a focus on trauma sensitive practices, encourages us to explore the present moment fully and inspires self-love, patience, and peace.