Why a Morning Routine Matters
A healthy lifestyle is the result of many small decisions added up overtime. What we do every single day matters because our daily habits build on one another. An Ayurvedic lifestyle is made up of many simple habits that are centered around routine, detoxification, and nourishment, all of which work together to produce long term health. In Ayurveda these habits come together to form our dinacharya, or daily routine.
A supportive morning routine is the backbone of a dinacharya because it can either set you up for success for the remainder of the day or set you back. Morning time offers an opportunity to feel your best right when you wake, set your intentions, and prepare the mind and body for a new day.
10 Ways to Create a Healthy & Mindful Morning Routine
1. Wake before the sunrise.
Ayurveda operates in rhythms and cycles. We experience not only a 24 hour circadian cycle, but also lunar, seasonal, and yearly cycles. Living in harmony with nature and experiencing rhythm in our lives means structuring our days, seasons, and years according to these cycles. It’s how we maintain balance between our bodies and our external environment.
According to the Ayurvedic clock, 6 AM-10 AM is dominated by Kapha dosha with qualities of heaviness and sluggishness. Waking within this time period can make you feel groggy, whereas waking during the active time of Vata dosha (2 AM-6 AM) can help you feel more alert and ready for the day.
Ayurveda suggests waking during Vata time, particularly at Brahma Muhurta (45 minutes before sunrise). This tends to be a peaceful and serene time of the day when clarity and wisdom are more accessible. By waking early, you’ll also inevitably go to bed earlier which will support a proper biological rhythm in your day-to-day activities based on the circadian cycle.
2. Start the day right.
How you start your day is just as important as waking early. What is your current habit right after waking? Do you go to the restroom, check your phone, or maybe prepare a cup of tea or coffee? Each morning is the beginning of a new day, and beginnings are worth being intentional about because they can influence the direction of everything that follows.
There are many healthy ways to spend the first 15 minutes of your day. Starting the day right can be as simple as sitting up in bed and taking three deep breaths to center your energy. It can also include chanting mantra, wishing a peaceful day for yourself, or generating a sense of gratitude.
You might use other ideas offered throughout this article to start your day, or maybe something else comes to mind. Whatever it is, be thoughtful about what feels most supportive to you. What is something you could do to make you feel good and nourished in the first 15 minutes of your day.
3. Hydrate with a glass of water.
Hydration is key to staying healthy and fluid! About 60% of your body is made up of water and all organs and tissues depend on it. Water affects nutrient transportation, thermoregulation, body lubrication, shock absorbency, and more.
Many health problems can be triggered by dehydration, like migraines, hypertension, kidney stones, sinusitis, and more. One of the easiest ways to ensure you drink enough water in the day is to start with 1-3 cups on an empty stomach immediately upon waking. This will hydrate your mind and body, flush your stomach with fluids, and help you eliminate first thing in the morning (which supports the digestive system and therefore your overall health).
Start with one cup of water and work your way up from there. Set a glass of water by your bed or set a glass in your kitchen to remind you to hydrate before you consume anything else. Your body will thank you for the morning flush!
4. Scrape your tongue & pull oil.
Oil pulling and tongue scraping are two important Ayurvedic practices for maintaining oral health. They’re especially beneficial in combination with habits you likely already have, like flossing and teeth brushing. Your oral health is essential to your overall well-being and can lead to enhanced sense of taste, stronger digestion, improved organ and tissue health, and more.
Tongue scraping is the practice of using a tongue scraper to remove the build-up of ama (or toxins) from your tongue. Using both hands, pull your tongue scraper from the back of your tongue toward the front 10 times, rinsing the tongue scraper after each pull.
Oil pulling is the practice of swishing organic sesame or coconut oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes, then spitting the oil and accumulated bacteria in a trashcan before rinsing your mouth with warm water. It can be done before or after brushing your teeth. ZV Botanicals offers ZWISH to support this habit–a full-spectrum, CBD and herbal infused mouth pulling oil.
Tongue scraping benefits:
- Helps reduce the toxins and bacteria on the tongue that can cause bad breath
- Can eliminate coating on the tongue
- Can enhance sense of taste
- Helps improve digestive health
- Helps boost your immune system
Oil pulling benefits:
- Helps keep gum and teeth healthy
- Helps pull out bacteria in the mouth
- Helps eliminate bad breath
- Can improve sense of taste
- Can help release stress from jaw muscles
5. Use a Neti Pot for nasal rinsing.
Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling stuffy and groggy? Nasal rinsing (the process of cleansing your nasal passageways) might be your solution.
The neti pot is a traditional Ayurvedic therapy that dates back several thousands of years. Use this ancient practice to help clear debris, pollutants, and allergens from the respiratory system, making you feel better and improving your quality of breath. Nasal rinsing is particularly supportive during Kapha season (late winter through springtime) and during the cold, winter season.
Nasal rinsing benefits:
- Supports the upper respiratory system
- Provide soothing relief for nasal dryness
- Rinses away potential irritants
- Removes excess mucous
- Helps to keep your mind clear and refreshed
- Allows for deeper breathing
- Eases sinus headaches
Practice nasal rinsing by using a nasal rinse pot and saline solution. Tilt your head about 45 degrees over a sink and insert the spout into one nostril at a time, breathing through your mouth as the solution rinses through one nostril and out the other.
6. Journal & Reflect
Journaling in the morning is an excellent way to reflect, gather your thoughts, and intentionally point your mind in one direction before the day gets going. Freely writing a stream of conscious thought is a great way to help you clear out any debris from night dreams or any anxious thoughts that are still lingering from the day before. It’s as easy as sitting with a pen and paper and writing about anything that comes to mind, free of judgment. Think of it as a brain dump on paper.
Then, set intentions and generate gratitude by following it with intentional writing. This can include writing about what you’re grateful for, writing out positive affirmations, or simply thinking through your day and what you would like to accomplish. This space in the morning to write and reflect on yourself, your life, and your day adds tremendous benefit to your life in the long-term and helps you to live more intentionally and free of thought clutter.
7. Create space for the breath.
Our breath is the one thing that begins and ends our earthly experience with us. It’s our number one sidekick. The breath often reflects what’s going on in the mind and the body. Without awareness, it can quickly be taken over by the mind. Connecting with the breath first thing in the morning can help you feel more at ease and centered by relaxing your nervous system. This can include meditation, breathing exercises (pranayama), or simply pausing in a moment of silence.
8. Start with a serving of CBD.
While eating a nourishing and healthy breakfast, add a little CBD to your meal, your drink, or on its own. There are many ways to take CBD including bitters, tinctures, pre-rolls, edibles, and topicals. You might even consider pulling oil in the morning with our full-spectrum CBD infused mouth oil.
Include CBD in your morning routine to add another healthy habit to start the day. Since CBD doesn’t cause any psychoeffective effects, it can be taken in the morning. This can help you start your day with ease and clarity and give your endocannabinoid system a boost. Just be mindful of your personal dosage levels so you don’t overdo it. Balance is key.
Research suggests that CBD may help:
- Treat autoimmune diseases like inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis
- Treat skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis
- Relieve anxiety and depression
- Relieve acute inflammation
- Relieve insomnia
- Improve heart health
- and more!
9. Move your body.
The practice of breathing into your body first thing in the morning through movement can increase blood flow and help you to move into your day with increased energy. It doesn’t need to be a high-intensity workout; light exercise is all that’s needed. Practicing yoga at this time of day is especially supportive to an Ayurvedic lifestyle and can help increase circulation, benefit digestion, and calm the nervous system.
Moving your body in the morning might include:
- Practicing yoga
- Light jogging
10. Practice abhyanga, or self-massage.
Uplevel your self-care regime by massaging your body with oil every morning before or after showering. This Ayurvedic practice of coating your body from head to toe in pure, herb-infused oils is called abhyanga and is a powerful way to become your body’s own best healer.
Self-massage supports lymphatic drainage of the entire body, delivers nutrients to the cells of the body by stimulating blood flow and relaxing muscle tension, nourishes the tissues, and more.
- Use ¼-½ cup oil of your choice (see suggestions below).
- Warm the oil before using it, especially for vata constitutions. This isn’t a must, but warm oil provides a more nourishing and relaxing experience.
- Lay out a towel (one that you don’t mind getting ruined overtime by the oil), and sit or stand over it nude.
- Use a generous amount of oil and begin at your extremities, working toward the center of your body.
- Massage the face in circular, upward motion.
- Use long strokes on your limbs and circular strokes on joints
- Spend 5-20 minutes massaging your skin for the oil to penetrate the seven dhatus (tissue layers in the body).
Our daily practices add up. Following a daily routine, or dinacharya, has a direct impact on how we feel each day. Ayurveda offers the wisdom and habits that we can use to feel our best, like maintaining oral health, making space for the breath, waking early, moving the body, and more.
The modern world easily pulls us from living in harmony with nature, but Ayurveda paves a direct route back. It all begins with how you start the day. In many ways, your morning routine is the blueprint for the rest of your day. How will you choose to start your day? What habits will you practice to support your health today, tomorrow, and in the future?