In 2006, I started private yoga classes with this guy. At 5:00 a.m. Neither of us were excited about the start time, but it was the only time I could make it work with my crazy-busy schedule. My yoga practice started before I simplified my life.
I wasn’t taking private yoga classes to learn how to do advanced poses, handstands, or anything like that. I wanted to learn how to create my own practice and to understand why it mattered. Even though my practice developed over time, the morning routine effect was almost immediate.
Those 5:00 a.m. classes inspired a five minute practice at home which eventually (over many years) turned into a meaningful morning routine including not just yoga but meditation, walking, writing, and putting my hands on heart. Some days my practice is hours long, and other days only minutes. I know that consistency is more important than intensity and show up even when I only have a few minutes.
The Morning Routine Effect (what to expect)
When you become more intentional about how you start your day, things begin to shift on the inside and the outside. This is the morning routine effect.
I started private yoga classes in search of less stress and more health a few months after my MS diagnosis. I got that and so much more. Here’s what you can expect from a consistent morning routine. (Note: your morning routine doesn’t have to include yoga to be meaningful to you.)
You’ll feel less scattered and more focused all day long when you give yourself time first thing to settle into the day. While it all contributes, the meditation component of my morning routine helps me come back more quickly when I do get distracted.
Not only will you be more creative throughout the day, when you are practicing your morning routine with an open heart and mind, creative ideas seem to drop out of the sky. So much of my book and blog writing starts on the yoga mat or while journaling or walking.
Learning to under-react is one of the best parts of the morning routine effect. You’ll learn to pause, to consider your words and to remember not to believe everything you think.
A morning routine will help you understand what matters and just as important, what doesn’t. You can apply what you are learning to your to-do list, your day and your life.
A meaningful morning routine can fuel your heart, soul, body and brain depending on the activities you choose. You can fuel up with food too by including a healthy breakfast at the end of your morning routine.
Your morning routine will help you become more of the real you. The connection you are making with your own heart will encourage connections with the people you are meant to be with. The more you that you are, the more likely you are to attract the right people for you.
Your morning routine will add a sense of lightness to how you feel and how you see the world. If you practice your morning routine early, you may experience more sunrises too. There is something magical about starting the day with the rising light of the sun.
Morning Routine (How to Get Started)
In my new book, Soulful Simplicity I share the exact steps and time-table I used to start my morning routine to help you implement your own. The steps below (originally shared here) will help you get started.
1. Stop saying you aren’t a morning person.
It’s a great excuse but it doesn’t matter. Start your morning routine whenever your morning starts, even if it’s in the afternoon.
2. Be grateful.
Wake up and write down three things you are grateful for. If you can’t think of anything, remember what made you smile yesterday, the first person you thought of when you woke up, or the last thing that made you laugh.
3. Stretch in bed.
Wiggle your toes. Roll your hips from side to side. Reach your fingers to the ceiling. Stretch your lungs too and take a few deep breaths.
4. Hide your phone.
Do whatever it takes to be digital free until you’ve enjoyed your morning routine. Eventually you may want to use a meditation app or other tool on your phone during your morning routine, but start without it so you aren’t tempted to check email, news, or other apps.
5. Make a list of morning routine activities.
Eliminate the painful process of making decisions when you first wake up. Instead, make a list of what you’d like to include in your morning routine and choose two or three to start with.
6. Create a morning not to-do list.
You may have more clarity on how you want to spend your morning minutes after clearly identifying what you don’t want to do. Make a list of the things that don’t add value to your mornings. Here are a few things you may want to include on your not to-do list.
7. Put pen and paper nearby.
Journaling is a great way to leave your worries on paper, work through an issue or release some of the excess thoughts clouding your mind.
8. Create accountability.
Challenge a friend to 10 days of practicing a morning routine. Agree to text each other a simple, “I did it” after your practice.
9. Turn on the music.
Quiet background music can help to keep you engaged and present in your morning routine. Create a 5 minute playlist and practice your morning routine for as long as the music lasts for the first week. Add a minute or two to your playlist and routine each week.
10. Show up.
Even if you don’t do anything during your morning routine, show up for it every morning for a week. Dedicate five minutes to getting on your yoga mat, sitting at your kitchen table, on the floor next to your bed, or wherever you’d like to be. Just show up.