Scientific evidence shows that morning exercises and rituals can increase concentration and motivation throughout the day so it’s well worth creating a routine that you feel you can stick to.
Practising yoga first thing can help to centre, ground and prepare yourself in the morning, and engaging in a short meditation exercise can achieve a sense of clarity and tranquility for the day ahead.
AN EXERCISE: MINDFULNESS
OF BREATHING MEDITATION
• Get comfortable, for example in an upright seated position, and set a timer on your alarm clock if you are giving yourself a digital-free space, or on your phone using a meditation app or the timer function. Start at 10 minutes and work up to as long as feels comfortable for you.
• Bring your attention to your breath, closing your mouth and allowing the breath to naturally flow in and out of your nose. Notice how it feels as the air enters your nose and how your lungs inflate and deflate. Imagine the breath travelling up and down the full length of your spine.
• Don’t force your breathing – just notice it.
• Become aware of and acknowledge any thoughts, without judgment, as they enter your mind. Then let them go and bring your attention back to your breath.
• Remember to practise self-kindness. Your mind will wander – don’t worry. Just keep bringing your attention back to your breath until the timer sounds.
More meditation exercises in Linnea Dunne’s Good Mornings
When the alarm clock goes off, it can jolt us straight into “fight or flight” mode, so that we start the day feeling stressed.
This practice, from the Tantric yoga tradition, enables you to centre, ground and prepare yourself in the morning.
1. Set a timer for five to ten minutes. Find an upright seated position: in bed, with a pillow behind your back, or sitting on a cushion or chair. Make sure your spine is straight. Let your face and jaw relax, but sit with a sense of alertness: you don’t want to go back to sleep.
2. Focus on your breathing. Allow it to find its natural rhythm for a few rounds, then start to lengthen it slightly, but don’t force it. Breathe into your belly, lower back and
chest, then exhale.
3. With your eyes closed or half open, visualize or sense a central channel through your body: from the crown of the head, following the spine, down to the pelvic floor. It goes down through your seat, the floor and into the earth; and up through the top of your head into the world. Sit for a moment with this image or feeling.
4. As you inhale, visualize or sense golden light coming up from the earth into your central channel. As you exhale, this light goes up through the crown of the head, into the world. Repeat. If the mind wanders, you can add a mantra – such as “So” on the inhale, and “Hum” on the exhale – to help you focus.
5. When your timer goes off, release the visualization and rest. Keep the breath soft, and notice how you feel. Remain sitting with awareness for as long as necessary.
More yoga practices in Lucy Lucas’ The Little Book of Yoga