Your morning ritual is something which shapes how you feel for the rest of the day, allowing you to show up fully for the kids you serve. Are you someone who hits the snooze button again and again, only to feel rushed and frantic getting out the door? Or Is the first thing that you do when you open your eyes in the morning to reach for your phone and scroll through your email box? 

    OK, some of us are just not ‘morning’ people, but by simply modifying your morning routine, you can change your relationship with this special time of day, and move into your day grounded, relaxed and with clarity. The following tips focus on how to improve how you feel from the very moment you wake and support self-care. 

    Tip #1: Move your alarm clock
    You may want to have your alarm clock close to hand so you can constantly keep leaning over and pressing it for a few extra minutes snooze time. The reality is it doesn’t really help. Place your alarm just that bit further away so that you really have to stretch or even get up to reach it — any stretching movement stimulates the waking part of the brain. 

    Tip #2: Move your body
    Although many of us probably don’t feel like it, a little bit of movement and exercise can really get things moving. We are not talking about a full-on several-mile run, just some activity to increase your body temperature, and get your metabolism and enzyme activity kick-started. You can try a few rounds of sun salutations, a favorite yoga video from www.yogaglo.com or simply move your body in a way that feels really great. You can look towards yoga, mindful movement, Qi Gong, Thai Chi, or other movement based disciplines for inspiration and support.  

    Tip #3: Grounding Breathwork
    There is often a sense of anxiety ahead of a stressful day and sometimes we are far from relaxed when we get up. A good method is to try 2:1 breathing; this is easy and really effective — you gently slow the rate of exhalation so that you are exhaling twice as long as you are inhaling. For example, inhale for 4 seconds and slow your exhale down so you a breathing out for 8 seconds. Make sure that this breathing feels easy and natural and avoid holding your breath. I recommend you sustain this for 3-5 minutes with a timer, or longer if you like. You can use an app like Insight Timer which allows you to choose several different sounds or gongs and even interval bells if that supports you. Remember that it is perfectly normal for your mind to wander off during this breathing practice. Don’t worry; just direct your attention breath back to the counted breath until the timer goes off.  

    Tip #4: Simple 4 Step Meditation and Journaling Practice
    Meet the day with clarity and a full heart. This shouldn’t take you very long, but can make a huge difference in how the day plays out. 

    Journaling Practice 

    Step #1: Gratitude
    Bring your attention to your breath, and even though you are breathing through your nose right now, imagine your breath coming in and out of your heart center.  Breathe in anything that you appreciate in your life right now, For every inhale appreciate something else….with every exhale, silently say thank you. Inhale something you appreciate, and offer a thank you on every exhale. Spend a few minutes in gratitude in this way.  Make a note of 3-5 of these things on a piece of paper or in your journal.
    Step #2: See the Good
    Bring your attention back to your breath. As you breath again through the heart, start to look at things wen’t well for you yesterday? Reflect back through your day. Here are a few thoughts to get you started. 

    • Did you sleep well? 
    • What wen’t well for you? 
    • What was a success for you, what did you accomplish? 
    • Did you experience a moment of kindness from a friend, stranger, or loved one?
    • Were you more patient with someone in your life? 
    • Did you make time for your practice or do something to support your health, fitness, or well-being? 
    • What felt really good yesterday? 

    Make a note of 3-5 of these things on a piece of paper or in your journal.

    After you have captured these moments of success, kindness, or ease, sit for a few moments in meditation and allow yourself to receive and soak in the positive things that are happening in your life right now. There is always more that is right with our lives than is wrong, if we just take the time to begin to shift our focus and attention.  
    Step #3:  Set an Intention: 
    Sit for a few moments in meditation. Place your attention on the kind of day you would like to have. Instead of coming up with a to do list, imagine the quality of being you hope to embody as you move through your day. How do you want to show up in the world today? How will you greet the moments in your life as they unfold today?  Jot this down on a piece of paper or in your journal.
    Step #4: Today I Will
    It's easy to get lost in the everyday hustle bustle and feel like we are just putting out fires or swallowed in our email boxes and to do lists every day. Take a moment and ask yourself to jot down 3-5 things, which when you accomplish them will make you feel like today was a productive and wonderful day. These things can be span any sector of your life. Is there someone you really want to connect with? What will move your professional career forward?  What would make today feel like a great day? What WILL you do?  

    Make a note of 3-5 of these things on a piece of paper or in your journal. Make sure you can check these off the list today, so be sure they aren't unrealistic. Prioritize completing these things no matter what.. Let today be a day that moves your vision forward and makes your heart sing.

    Here is to a happy and fulfilling morning! Enjoy these practices and feel free to comment below with how they are transforming your day. 

    And for your own journaling template, please CLICK HERE.

    Mayuri Gonzalez is a nationally recognized presenter, trainer and instructor in mindfulness and children’s yoga, leading teacher trainings and continuing education seminars at renowned retreat centers such as The Omega Institute and IONS Earthrise Center. She has more than 25 years of experience practicing yoga and mindfulness, and provides therapeutic yoga classes to children and families as well as teaching yoga and mindfulness classes in schools and community centers. In her role as director of the School Yoga Project, (a Little Flower Yoga program that brings yoga and mindfulness classes to over 2000 children a week in New York City schools), Mayuri trains and mentors teachers, counselors and school support staff. She is a contributing author to Transforming Education: Best Practices for Yoga in Schools, a white book published by the Yoga Service Council in November 2015, as well as author of the upcoming book Little Flower Chair Yoga: A Sustainable Approach (2016). As an active member of the Yoga Service Council and the International Association for Yoga Therapists, Mayuri maintains a strong community of support and a commitment to continuous learning. 

    For more information about Little Flower Yoga and The School Yoga Project, visit www.littlefloweryoga.com.  Contact Mayuri by email at mayuri@littlefloweryoga.com

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