I am not a morning person. Ask anybody close to me and they will all confirm this fact. Waking up early is a chore, and doing so results in me grumpily dragging myself to wherever I need to be. And also, MUST. HAVE. COFFEE.
One of the first things we learned in teacher training was a daily morning kriya. Doing this first thing in the morning helps jumpstart my day. I’ve been able to function better throughout the day. And it has helped me be able to balance the mental and physical demands of YTT with some much needed personal time, catching up with old friends and enjoying being in a foreign country. I’d like to share this simple routine with you, in the hopes that you would find some benefit from it, too.
1. Kapalabhati (breath of fire) – for cleansing of the skull
Position: Easy seated position, spine straight, palms on knees.
* Take a few deep breaths
* Strong, active exhalation through the nose, pulling your stomach in as you exhale
* Inhalation happens quickly and passively as you loosen your abdominal muscles
Do 20 breaths x 3 sets; take 3 deep breaths in between each set.
2. Anuloma viloma – alternate nostril breathing to balance left and right brain. Start inhale on right nostril in the morning to heat up the body; left cools down body and is ideal for evening.
Position: Easy seated position, spine straight, left hand on left knee in chin mudra (thumb & index finger together, palm facing up. Right hand on the nose in vishnu mudra — thumb for covering right nostril, pinky and ring finger for covering left nostril
* Cover left nostril & inhale on right
* Cover right nostril & exhale on left
* Keep covering right nostril & inhale on left
* Cover left nostril & exhale on right
That makes one set. Do 20 rounds, minimum of 4 seconds inhale & 8 seconds exhale (longer if you can, just remember to keep 1:2 breathing ratio).
3. Uddiyana bandha – abdominal lock for strengthening of the abdominal muscles and massaging of internal organs
Position: Do this standing, feet slightly apart. For beginners, round your back, keep knees slightly bent, hands on knees. If you can do the bandha comfortably, you can start practicing with your torso upright, hands on your hips.
* Take a deep inhale through the nose, then strong exhale through the nose, forcing all the air out by contracting your abdominal muscles
* Holding your exhale, suck your stomach in really tight, hollowing the belly (imagine navel towards spine, then upwards). Hold bandha for 5-15 seconds
* Slowly release the belly and inhale normally through your nose.
Do 5 sets, taking a few deep breaths in between sets.
4. Asanas – to stretch and warm up the body
a. Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
b. Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
c. Ardha matsyendrasana (seated twist) – twist towards your right side first, then left
Hold each asana for 1 minute.
5. Gratitude – What are you grateful for? Practice appreciation of even the simplest things.
Have a beautiful day!
Love and light,