Tired of feeling, well, tired in the morning? Yeah, I was too.
It didn’t matter how much sleep I had the night before, I still woke up feeling sluggish, blurry-eyed and plain ol’ tired.
Using my knowledge of nutrition, yoga and ancient Ayurvedic health practices, I created a morning ritual for myself that not only helped increase my energy levels, but was so nourishing to my body and soul that I actually wanted to get up in the morning to start my day.
I find pleasure in committing to a morning ritual. It grounds my mind, energizes my spirit and allows me the quiet time to reflect on and prioritize my day ahead.
1. Set your alarm an extra 20 minutes early.
I know, I know! It’s difficult enough to wake up early, but believe me the extra 20 minutes necessary to develop a quiet and reflective morning routine will pay off dividends in your energy level later on in the day.
2. After you roll out of bed—before you even brush your teeth—practice the ancient Ayurvedic health remedy of oil pulling.
The practice of oil pulling has been linked to improved mouth and gum health, weight loss, detoxification and total body wellness. Although scientific studies to prove the efficacy of oil pulling in regards to weight loss and detoxification are lacking, there are several studies that link oil pulling to improved health of the mouth, gums and teeth.
To start oil pulling, place one to two tablespoons of coconut oil in your mouth without swallowing. Feel free to experiment with other cold-pressed, organic oils like sesame or sunflower oil. I personally love using coconut oil for its taste and antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. After you have oil in your mouth, swish the oil around, through your teeth and around your gums. It feels incredibly awkward at first, but as you continue the practice you’ll settle into the feeling of slowly swishing the oil around and around. Ideally, you should aim to keep the oil in your mouth for 20 minutes, but you might want to start off with a few minutes at first and build up your time in increments.
(I love to use my oil pulling time to sit quietly in meditation, using the sensations in my mouth as a focal point, or practicing a slow, meditative yoga or qi gong practice.)
After the time is up, spit the milky white gloop in the toilet or trashcan. What started off as a fresh spoonful of oil has now turned into a festering spludge of microorganisms.
Gargle with warm water to remove the remnants of oil and bacteria and brush your teeth as usual.
Within a week or two of daily oil pulling you should see healthier teeth and gums smiling back at you in the bathroom mirror.
3. Sip a tonic made of hot water and lemon.
Squeeze half of a lemon into a mug of warm or hot water. Sit quietly as you sip and contemplate the day ahead of you, instead of the usual grab-a-bagel-and-run-out-the-door morning routine. According to Dr. Susan E. Brown’s book, The Acid Alkaline Food Guide, fresh lemon juice has an alkalizing effect on the body, which leads to improved health and greater vitality.
4. The food and beverage choices you make in the morning can set the tone for your eating habits the rest of the day.
So set the foundation for health as soon as you plop that first morsel of food in your mouth. A study performed by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows that individuals who eat a healthy breakfast at least five days per week consume less calories during the day and jump-start their metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day.
I like to start the day off with fresh squeezed juice—beets, carrots, ginger, spinach and a splash of orange juice—that way I know I’m starting my day off with at least half of my daily recommended intake of fruits and veggies.
Some other great choices for breakfast include fruit smoothies (throw in a handful of kale or spinach to green it up), whole grain porridge, a veggie omelet or whole grain toast with a smear of nut butter.
Nicole Carlin, MA Sexuality, E-RYT is a dynamic, playful and fiercely feminine vinyasa, Yin and fertility yoga teacher and teacher trainer. She’s published over 2,000 articles on yoga, sexuality and wellness and her book Hot Yoga, Hotter Sex is launching in May 2013. Through her inspirational teaching and vibrant, knowledgeable writing, Nicole empowers women to nurture their physical, emotional and sexual health. Connect with Nicole: via email at [email protected], her website, Facebook and Twitter.
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Assistant Ed: Terri Tremblett