Yoga doesn’t just happen on the mat, it’s a lifestyle to be embodied in every moment.
Whilst the transformations and experiences that happen when immersed in our practice are the god damn bomb, how we begin and end our day has just as much of an impact. Because when we get out of bed the right side, we're able to practice yoga all day long in our interactions with others and maintaning a state of inner calm and clarity even in the most challanging of situations!
Here's a basic morning and evening routine of a Yogi. I would encourage you to try one or all of the below, and see what a difference it makes to your day.
The most important thing about first waking up, is to do so slowly. Sudden moves to leaping out of bed wrecks havoc with your nervous system. Setting your subconscious to wake at the right time is also way better then using an alarm (if you really do have to use and alarm, please use something gentle and not some kick ass tune meant for da club…)
With eyes still closed, take a few deep breathes and a nice full body stretch.
Next we want to protect our eyes from any sudden shock of light. You can do this by putting your hands over your eyes and slowly opening, them into your hands.
Begin to massage your face with both hands, starting at the centre of the forehead and working down each side to the chin. Continue to noise and ears, especially the lobes (if like me you have a bottle of frankincense oil by your bed, now would be a good time to use a drop).
Perform Stretch Pose for one minute with Breathe Of Fire. This adjusts the Naval point which is the focus for the 72,000 nerves. Excellent tune up for the whole body.
Hug knees into chest and do Breathe Of Fire for another minute whilst mentally chanting Sat Nam
Turn onto your right hand side and rest for a minute.
Walk slowly to the bathroom in bare feet, touching walls and doorways as you go to ground yourself.
In the bathroom I always begin with tongue scraping, followed by oil pulling with coconut oil and a drop of clove essential oil (the oil pulling continues for around 15 minutes whilst continuing with the below)
Next it’s time to body brush. I drop some geranium essential oil onto my body brush and begin working up by body towards my heart in short strokes.
Using either sesame, almond or coconut oil, I again add a few drops of uplifting essential oils, and literally slather myself in oily goodness.
Now the fun part - a freezing cold shower …… Remember in Greece when Rizzo mocks Sandy for taking cold showers? Well all these years on and I’ve finally discovered what Sandy knew then. Cold showers, are literally one of the BEST ways you can start your day. And before you roll your eyes and think nope, not for me, let me explain why. When you take a cold shower, your blood rushes out to meet the challenge by its own circulatory power and doesn’t feel cold. This means all the capillaries open up and all toxic deposits have to go. Everything is cleansed, flushed and energised. Side effects include beautiful glowing, radiant skin!
When in the shower you want to start by letting the water hit your feet. Then massage the right foot with left and vice versa. Go on to massage calves with feet then massage your whole body. (avoid getting cold water on crown of head and thighs). Go in and out of the water 4 times massaging briefly then wrap yourself in a beautiful soft towel.
You will feel, and look pretty amazing!
At this point it would be good to do something that nourishes your soul. For me it's my morning Sadhana practice (Kundalini yoga + Meditation). For you it could be reading something inspiring, writing in your journal, listening to a podcast or simply writing down a few things your grateful for.
Just a side note on cold showers, also known as Ishnaan or Hydrotherapy. The technology is pretty fascinating and a complete science.
For example if you let cold water fall just below your lower lip for a few minutes, you will be bright and your mind will be very clear.
If you put the water between the eyebrows and upper lip, you will be incredibly energetic.
If you let the water hit your chest and run all the way down your body, you are totally changing the chemistry of the bloody from unhealthy to healthy.
Hours worth of exercise cannot stimulate your cell psyche the way you can with cold water. You can go for a deep muscle massage, visit a spa etc, but nothing will compare to to standing under ice-cold water until your body becomes hot.
Going to Bed.
Try refrain from eating several hours before going to bed if possible, or make it a light snack if you do. Drink a glass of water and then run cold water (yes, it's back) over your feet. Again this stimulates the 72,000 nerve endings in the sole of each foot, preparing the body for relaxation. Dry feet with a soft towel and believe me crawling into bed will feel like a dream…
There is a beautiful bedtime meditation you can practice called Shabd Kriya, you can find out how here.
Once in bed lie on your tummy with your right cheek on the pillow. This helps you to breathe through your left nostril bringing in calming energy. Breathe long and deep through the nose and mentally chant SAT on the inhale, and NAM on the exhale.
After several breaths, completely block the right nostril and continue the breathing. As you get drowsy turn onto your back or right hand side.
Sleep like a baby.
Try applying some or all of these techniques and let me know your experience!