This article is written in partnership with Yoga Wake Up—they’re a small, independent, Ele-editor approved app that infuses our days with movement, breath, gratitude, and mindfulness, from the minute we wake up. ~ ed.
“If you find you don’t have space or things are going wrong—create your own, invisible, personal container. You’ve got to first create sacred space, then rock it. ” ~ Waylon Lewis
In Buddhism, there’s something called the container principle.
The philosophy is that discipline (rules, boundaries, rituals) is more than just a way to get organized or achieve something, it’s the very foundation of freedom (creativity, joy, self-actualization).
This is why daily rituals, no matter how small, have the power to transform our lives.
I know when I wake up and start the day intentionally, structure it mindfully, and end it with awareness and gratitude, everything changes. Those small mindful rituals, those tiny moments of loving self-discipline are the springboard to deeper joy and awareness, to living my best life. And it’s not just me; it’s universal.
An awesome way to start your day with joy & intention:
Get 25% off Yoga Wake Up in celebration of National Yoga Month >>
One of my favorite parts of my favorite podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, is when he unfailingly asks each of his guests (all exceptionally successful people) about their daily rituals.
See, it’s one of the key things he’s recognized in his own experience (he’s a pretty impressive guy if you’re not familiar), as well as through speaking to countless remarkable people: our daily rituals, particularly our morning rituals, have a huge impact on not just our days, but the whole trajectory of our lives. The little things are important.
What many of us experienced during lockdown was the loss of our container, where our regular routine disappeared overnight and our days morphed into these formless, boundaryless things. And that was scary. It was also freeing because we could clearly see which routines and habits were not serving us.
Even after some much-needed perspective, it’s all too easy to slip back into unhealthy habits and lack of awareness as many of us return to “normal” (whatever that is).
We have a golden opportunity here, in this weird in-between space between the end of reality as we knew it and whatever lies ahead, to create new routines and rituals—a new container.
Let’s create one that supports and nurtures us to thrive and grow, with greater joy and awareness.
5 Mindful Rituals to Transform your Day (& Maybe your Life)
1. Break up with your snooze button, forget social media—wake up with yoga.
“The first couple of days, my brain put up a fight against not having my morning social media in bed fix. What happened when I stopped fighting the urge? I breathed…I felt my breath move through my body…I felt connected to how I was actually feeling. It’s pretty hard not to wake up feeling good.” ~ Caitlin Oriel, Elephant editor of yore
I genuinely believe the world would be a happier place if each of us went to bed, and woke up with yoga. And it’s the whole raison d’etre for an app like Yoga Wake Up. Lizzie and Joaquín Brown, the mission-driven team behind Yoga Wake Up, want our first thoughts and feelings of the day to be uplifting ones.
Our brains are actually hardwired to think negative thoughts first. So a big part of their mission is to help us reprogram the brain for positive thought during its most intuitive time, those first minutes when we wake up.
They’ve gathered a community of caring, lovely-sounding yoga teachers to do just that before your feet have even hit your bedside. My favorite part of their wake up routines is the slow, easy, delicious stretching in bed. Using Yoga Wake Up actually helped me to become a morning person, after years of night-owling and reluctant rising. My colleague, Kelsey, used it to help her get through a crazy situation in lockdown.
But don’t take our word for it, folks are loving Yoga Wake Up for how it’s revolutionized their mornings and, in unsettled times, being the only consistent thing in their lives. Makes sense that they were featured as App of the Day in August this year and have over 1,000 ratings on the App Store with 4.7 stars.
Give waking up with yoga a go; it might just change your life:
Get 25% off a year’s subscription in celebration of National Yoga Month >>
2. Meditate, meditate, meditate.
I just can’t overstate this. A regular, if not daily, meditation practice is the cornerstone of mindful living. Think of it like part self-care, part workout, for your mind. And you don’t need to sit for hours like a monk to practice meditation effectively. All you need is a few minutes first and preferably also last thing in the day. There are a wealth of resources on Elephant to get you started if you feel at sea when you sit. Guided meditation is a great place to start. Yoga Wake Up also has a host of beautiful, super accessible guided meditations for any time of day.
3. Make your bed, fold your clothes, wash the dishes…
Making your bed in the mornings might seem mundane, but it’s one of those daily tasks with the potential for Zen-like profundity.
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.” ~ Naval Admiral William McRaven
It’s a 3-minute-or-less chore that stands for so much more, which is why this seemingly insignificant ritual is something many successful (joyful, creative, abundant) people swear by. We can extend it to other areas of our lives, too: folding that laundry before it takes over, keeping our cupboards tidy so we can actually see what we have, washing the dishes at night, dusting that bookshelf. If we win the little things, we make mental and energetic space for winning the big.
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
We are more than 50% water, so drink up. I favor a large glass of room temperature water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in, and there’s plenty written about why this is good for us. It’s alkalizing, supports the liver, and is full of Vitamin C. I’m no health expert but I know it helps me feel revitalized, refreshed, and most importantly, well-hydrated before I enjoy that delicious first cup of coffee.
5. Write it all down.
There are a few ways to do this, but I like the tip I picked up from Tim Ferriss (again), which is to alternate between morning pages, which is a kind of longhand therapeutic braindump great for getting unstuck, and the 5-Minute Journal, which is perfect for prioritizing and cultivating gratitude. The latter also includes a 5-minute session at night to round off the day.
Daily rituals are a beautiful way to create meaningful routine in our lives, and human beings need that like we need air. It just looks slightly different for all of us.
Yoga Wake Up sessions for morning, anytime, and bedtime are a wonderful addition to our daily rituals because they’re accessible to everyone and anyone (you do not need to be able to touch your toes or have reached any level of enlightenment to use them).
They simply meet us where we are and deliver us back into the present moment, where we need to be.
6 Reasons to Ditch your Alarm Clock & Wake Up with Yoga.
1. Highly Rated Instructors At Your Fingertips.
2. New: Daily Live Classes.
3. A Consistent Routine.
4. Content For Every Part Of Your Day.
5. The First-Ever Yoga Alarm Clock.
6. A Stronger, Happier You.