Daily Morning Routine

Something to know about me; I love reading (or watching, thanks YouTube!) about people’s routines. I have always been an avid magazine reader and would just devour the little blurbs about how people tackled their day to day, what products they used, what they ate… everything! When I was figure skating, I had a definite morning routine that began at 6am so I could be on the ice by 7 and at school by 8:45 (full disclosure, I was often late). But when I became injured and then high school and university happened, that healthy morning routine fell by the wayside.

Around late-July last year, I decided to start my days with a little yoga. I had been regularly practicing at home in the afternoons, but felt that my mornings needed something that didn’t involve immediately turning on something (whether that be the tv, my phone or the computer). With that small daily yoga change, began a full morning routine that makes me start my day on a positive, excited and happy note!

Since beginning this daily routine I have noticed many changes in my life. I strongly feel that starting the day with enough time to spend time in silence, be introspective and un-rushed changes the state-of-mind. I believe in routines, I think they are important to bookend your day with a sense of groundedness and stability. Don’t get me wrong, spontaneity is important too, but being able to really rely on certain aspects of the day makes everything a bit easier. I also think its so important to try and live without constantly focusing on screens! I know that’s a little unreasonable since we live in 2015 and we literally have them strapped to our wrists now, but I always try to turn my phone on silent and keep my iPad and tv off and away from me at least until I am making breakfast. So without further ado, here’s my daily morning routine!

I enjoy waking up with at least two hours before I have to go anywhere or do anything. I don’t have children so I know this is a bit easier for me to do interrupted, but those two plus hours really help me spend quality time with myself. First thing, I wake up and give my partner a kiss, throw on some leggings and a comfy shirt and drink some water. I sleep with a 500mL glass jar beside my bed and down it before my eyes have even rid themselves of sleep. Next, I cut a lemon, put on the kettle for some delicious and beneficial lemon water and while that is boiling I practice some yoga.

Relaxing Morning Child's Pose

Relaxing Morning Child’s Pose

 My morning yoga routine varies but tends to be under 15 mins and extremely relaxing with a focus on flexibility. I enjoy taking my time, breathing into tight spaces and letting my body slowly and patiently wake up. I’ll either create my own practice or follow a quick morning YouTube video if I don’t feel like thinking (hey, we all have those days!). Once I have finished practicing, I grab a couple pillows from my couch and create a little meditation seat. I open my Insight Timer App and sit quietly for 5 mins. I practice mindfulness meditation because it’s just what is suiting me at the moment, but I love constantly being reminded to come back to my breath. I’m hoping that I can slowly work up to 20 mins a morning of meditation but I’m not quiet there yet, but a little goes a long way!

Once I’ve finished on my mat and the kettle has boiled, I run into the bathroom and wash my face. This is another new (but important) daily habit! I finally began washing my face religiously in the summer of last year and it has done wonders for my skin! Especially after I move from chemical-laden products to more natural choices.

Morning Skincare Routine (Lush Eau Roma Water, Lush Fresh Farmacy, Rose Petal Witch Hazel, Sukin Moisturizer)

Morning Skincare Routine (Lush Eau Roma Water, Lush Fresh Farmacy, Rose Petal Witch Hazel, Sukin Moisturizer)

I have already posted a Natural Morning Skincare Routine and my routine now hasn’t differed much since then. I first wash my face with Lush’s Fresh Farmacy cleanser (It. Is. Incredible. Especially for extra-sensitive skin), then follow up with some sort of toner (99% of the time I use witch hazel but I ran out so have been going back to Lush’s Eau Roma Water which I also really love, it’s just not as inexpensive and does contain methylparaben which I don’t love) and finally use the best facial moisturizer from Sukin.

By the time I’ve done all this the boiling water from the kettle has cooled a bit, but I’ll still pop some ice cubes into my mug with lemon before pouring in the hot water. If you don’t already drink warm lemon water in the morning you are seriously missing out! It is so beneficial for your health, your skin and general well-being!

Lemon Water

Lemon Water

I like to enjoy my lemon water in one of two special places; out on the balcony (if it’s nice outside and I can sit in the shade) or in my favourite comfy chair that smells like my cottage. I will sip and savour my warm water while reading my morning meditation. I have talked about Journey to the Heart before (and likely will again) but I just enjoy following her daily thoughts and stories because they help me focus on the positive and change any negative thinking. My bookmark is just a cue card that I have listed my favourite meditations of hers that just resonate so completely with me so that I can go back to them as much as possible.

Journey to the Heart

Journey to the Heart

Once I’ve finished reading and contemplating my meditation, I’ll pick up another book or magazine and just sit and read for a while. I enjoy reading about nutrition or yoga in the mornings for inspiration, or if I’m feeling like something light, I’ll choose a magazine or the book I’m currently reading!

Some Favourite Yoga & Nutrition Books

Some Favourite Yoga & Nutrition Books

Now my lemon water is all gone and I’m likely starting to feel hungry so I’ll prepare a smoothie. I drink a smoothie every single morning! If I know that I have the time and want to eat a real breakfast I’ll make a really simple spinach and berry smoothie to drink beforehand, however, if I’m running late or just don’t feel like cooking, I’ll prepare a real smoothie with avocado, peanut butter and lots of fruits to keep me charged through the day. Usually I opt for the quick smoothie (like today)! It’s seriously super simple, throw some spinach and frozen berries into a blender, add water and go!

Simple Morning Smoothie

Simple Morning Smoothie

The reason for the super simple smoothie is to be able to start the day on a healthy note, to be able to have my fruits before eating solid food (proper food combining) and because it just stars me off on a healthy foot. I find myself making healthier choices throughout the day when the first one I make is a good one or if I do go out for dinner or have something special to eat, there is literally no guilt.

So while I’m drinking my smoothie, I’ll go back to my spot and keep reading! Once I finish my smoothie, I allow for half an hour before preparing more food (on days that I want to actually eat breakfast) so that the fruit can digest so that I’m not creating a problem for my digestion (if you would like to know more about food combining, leave a comment below, I’d love to talk about it!)

Light Morning Reading

Light Morning Reading

Now that my smoothie is done and my stomach is really wanting more food, I’ll make breakfast. Here’s also the time that I put on sunscreen if I know that I’ll be leaving the house shortly after breakfast (it takes about 30 minutes for sunscreen to do it’s job and begin protecting you!) Lately my favourite go-to breakfast has been mashed avocado, red pepper flakes and a fried egg on ezekiel toast but today we didn’t have eggs (sad) so I tried something new!

“French” Toast

Behold my delicious “French” Toast breakfast. This recipe is totally kudos to Tara Stiles and her book “Make Your Own Rules Diet”. It is 2 slices of ezekiel bread, 1 banana smashed with 1/2 unsweetened almond milk, “fried” in coconut oil with a little bit of cinnamon and maple syrup on top. This was incredible and tasted just like real French Toast!

I paired my breakfast with some yummy tea (as always) and today’s was just plain ol’ organic green tea!

Green Tea

Green Tea

 Now’s the time that I’ll probably turn something on to watch (I know you’re not supposed to watch tv while eating, but it’s my weakness!) I’ll usually choose YouTube videos or some trashy reality tv show (another weakness, but they make me happy!)

Lastly, after washing the dishes, I’ll put on some happy music and some makeup! I don’t wear a lot day-to-day but if I’m feeling a pick-me-up or have somewhere (other than the yoga studio) to go, I like makeup! I always wear a BB cream, concealer under my eyes, brow gel, mascara and a lip something and will add blush, bronzer, setting powder and eyeliner if I have somewhere special to be! I finish up with a spritz of Saje Namaste Aromatherapy mist as a setting spray and to give me a little aromatherapy jolt.

Now that I’m done eating, reading, yoga-ing and meditating, my morning routine is over and it’s time to start the day!

The View from My Reading Chair (featuring Princess Peach)

The View from My Reading Chair (featuring Princess Peach)

Now that you know my morning routine, I would absolutely love to hear about yours! Is there something that you swear by in the mornings? Also, if you have any recommendations of all natural makeup and sunscreen brands please let me know! Finally, if there is anything that I mentioned that you would like more information about (ie food combining, etc) please let me know! I would love to make a post for you!

Namaste.

(Note: Nothing in this post was sponsored or asked to be mentioned. All thoughts and opinions are my own! Enjoy!)

Advertisements

Meditation Proclamation!

When my yoga practice became a daily one and restorative yoga became such an important part of my practice, it was only natural for the next step in my routine to be a daily meditation. From the rhythmic breathing through asanas in flow classes to the five minute savasana, yoga and meditation go hand in hand.

I began my daily meditation with the coming of the New Year. Though I practice restorative yoga at least twice a week, I never thought to slow down and meditate… I just didn’t think that I would be able to do it as my mind travels a mile a minute. However, with meditation becoming a booming presence throughout the world and the health benefits showing up in magazines, on television and obviously in the yoga studio, I felt that it was time for me to get into the swing of things.

IMG_2780

As it turns out, meditation isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, I just needed to find my way of meditating. There are numerous different ways of beginning a meditative practice; mindfulness, repeating mantras, focusing on the breath, practicing a body scan or guiding the mind through imagery. Mindfulness is the focus of the mind on the present. Instead of worrying about the past or fretting for the future, you pay attention to the now. Repeating mantras can be done with mala beads (Buddhist/Hindu prayer beads with 108 beads, used to count the number of times the mantra has been repeated) or simply to oneself. Mantras can be whatever you need for the day, you can say “I am strong”, “I am focused” or “I am light” or you can simply chant (“Om/Aum”, or another mantra of your choosing). Focusing on the breath is just as it sounds, you pay attention to the breath entering and leaving the body. Body scans and guided imagery can both be practiced by following a recording (there are many apps, albums and YouTube videos available to help guide you through these meditations) or you can practice by oneself. I practice body scan meditation in a guided restorative class on Saturday mornings, but most of the time I have found that breath focus and mindfulness are the meditative practices that work the best for me! You can test out all these different types of meditation to discover which one(s) work the best for your practice!

The key to beginning a daily meditation is to start small. My personal goal is to be meditating for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes before bed, however that is definitely not where I am starting. I began my meditation with 5 minutes in the morning. That’s it! You can do it too! Afterwards, we build from there. After practicing daily for 5 minutes in the morning, I will work to 5 minutes at night, then to 6 minutes each, 7 minutes… Adding a minute every other week until I have worked up to my goal! It is so simple and not threatening if you break your goal into baby steps!

Another thing to remember when starting a meditative practice is that the mind will wander. While the “goal” of meditation is to be free of thought, do not worry if the mind floats from thought to thought, gently guide it back to the practice that you have chosen and you are succeeding at meditating!

IMG_2781

Once you have decided to bring meditation into your life, it is time to set up your meditative space! As you can see mine is quite simple, a couch cushion on my yoga mat after my morning yoga practice. You do not need anything fancy, though if you feel that you would like something a bit more special, there are numerous websites to purchase beautiful meditation cushions online! Once you have found a quiet place to meditate, you want to sit as comfortably as possible. You can sit on the ground, in a chair, wherever you feel that you will be able to sit calmly for your designated amount of time (it helps to keep a timer so that you are not constantly opening your eyes to check the clock). I choose to sit on the floor in half lotus position with my hands upright on my knees if I need help receiving energy, facing down if I need grounding or upright in a mudra (Buddhist/Hindu ritual gesture of the hands and fingers, common in meditation) if I need something a little bit more that day! Once you are comfortable, sit up straight, gently close your eyes or soften your gaze, unclench your jaw, peel your tongue from the roof of your mouth and focus on your chosen type of meditation. Breathe in and breathe out. Great! You’re meditating!

There are numerous benefits to meditating that range from physical to mental to spiritual to all around lifestyle! Physically, meditation improves heart health (by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease) and benefits immune health. Meditation also works as an anti-inflammatory which in turn decreases tension pain, providing relief for such problems as insomnia, muscle pain and even headaches! A regular meditation practice can soothe chronic problems such as allergies and even asthma by improving air flow into the lungs! By improving blood flow throughout the body and systematically slowing the heart rate and relaxing the nervous system, meditation causes the body to go into further levels of physical (and mental) relaxation, meaning less energy wasted while moving about your day! Less energy wasted means more strength, energy and improved performance in your day-to-day and even your yoga practice! Finally, meditation aids the body physically by coordinating the endocrine system (responsible for hormone control), balancing weight and slowing the aging process!

Though meditation can do a lot for us physically, the mental benefits to meditation are even more fantastic! A continual meditation practice will work wonders against stress! Stress is a monster to the body and mind and meditation both removes stress from the system and prevents it from re-entering. There is a decrease in overall anxiety (including a restless mind and constant worry) when practicing meditation regularly, as meditation lowers levels of blood lactate! Meditation also improves concentration, mental clarity, emotional stability, creativity and overall happiness and sense of well being! Meditation will also help you develop will power (some have used mindful meditation as a way to kick a cigarette addiction!), strengthen your intuition, memory (by fortifying the communication pathways between brain hemispheres), focus, listening skills and even empathy! Meditation can also lessen the need for sleep! Though I strongly believe in the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night, meditation can help you function if you tend to oversleep and has even been shown to help cure insomnia!

Overall, meditation is definitely something phenomenal! There are many improvements that you won’t necessarily be able to “see” but there are so many changes that will be made to your everyday lifestyle! Meditation will help encourage you to make other healthy choices in your life! Meditation will improve your base levels of happiness, increase your self-awareness, tolerance and maturity! You will have a much easier time keeping things in perspective (no more frustrated anger when something doesn’t go your way!). Meditation will help you look inwards, you will feel a sense of one-ness, an understanding of yourself that you perhaps didn’t have before you started a daily meditative practice! You will also have a higher understanding of those around you, you will feel a change in attitude, perhaps a feeling of being enlightened! Meditation unites all parts of oneself, the body, the mind and the spirit just as yoga and moving in the asanas does!

IMG_2779

As you can see, the benefits to developing a daily meditation practice are many and guess what? There are absolutely no side effects! Meditation is free, you need no fancy equipment or things, you just need yourself! There is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, there is only your way!

I have fallen in love with meditation as it naturally goes hand-in-hand with my yoga practice. Together, these practices have benefitted my life in a way that I could not explain in one post. I enjoy meditating because it allows me to be mindful in the everyday. When I find myself anxious for the future, or upset about the past I remember to live in the moment. That those moments have either happened, or won’t and that happiness is in the here and now! Yoga and meditation have helped me see my purpose, they have helped me feel a harmony in my life and have greatly improved my self confidence and sense of self!

I greatly encourage you to try meditating if you have not already! You will not regret it!

Namaste.