In this blog, I would like to share my morning therapy with you. It made a huge impact in my life, and I hope it will be helpful to you as well.
Even when I’ve commuted for 3 hours a day, working a full-time executive job and teaching 3 to 4 hours a week, I was able to dedicate some time to center myself each morning. It all started with a yoga practice. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised how simple 10 minutes session can change my day. As time progressed, I “unbusied” myself, cut my commute and was able to fine-tune my morning therapy.
11 Steps To Be Your Best Possible Self
A few things before we start. Firstly, remember that there is no right or wrong way for doing business! Secondly, you have to find what resonates and works for you. Thirdly, pick just one thing and experiment with it for a few weeks or months. Finally, know your physiology. Are you self-motivated or do you work better with a mentor/trainer/coach?
So, ready to start?
1) Writing (15 – 30 minutes)
“Just write every day of your life. Then see what happens.”
Ray Bradbury said it! That’s it – just write every day of your life and watch what happens. I use an Excel spreadsheet where I keep track of my life. It helps me to stay focused and organized. Additionally, I track my time, prepare weekly menu plans, jolt what I am grateful for and streamline my thoughts, ideas, and dreams. I have a yearly, monthly and weekly schedules. Typically, I like to pre-plain in 3-weeks increment. So, I can tweak and optimize. I’ve been keeping spreadsheets for about 15 years. I attribute weight loss, quitting smoking and even moving to Colorado to this practice.
If you don’t have a system of record, I recommend starting with a notepad. You can streamline your thoughts and ideas, create a plan for the day and what you are grateful for. Writing creates a discipline of thinking. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about remembering to pay your bills or not to spend extra for lunch, etc. Personally, I use a detailed worksheet where I keep track of my life. It helps me to stay focused and organized.
2) Rolling (10 minutes)
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
The only place you live, take care of the body! So, I love rolling out! Typically I start with my calfs, progressing towards my neck. I use deep breathing and focus solely on the process.
You can start with a foam roller or even simple tennis balls.
3) Music (as much as needed)
Music can change the world because it can change people.
Bono nailed it! Music is a large part of my morning therapy. I don’t have a specific list – anything that makes my soul smile. You’d have to find something that you really love. Listening to music becomes an active meditation. I often catch my mind wander and bring it back to music.
4) Meditation (5 to 10-minutes)
“This is a donut. It is very sweet, and very good. But if you’ve never tasted a donut, you wouldn’t really know how sweet and how good a donut is… meditation is like that. Meditation gives an experience much sweeter than the sweetness of this donut.“
Sweet like a donut and no consequences! I’ve been very lucky to spend years with master yoga teachers. Also, I’ve taken many classes in addition to my 700 certified hours. So, at the beginning of my journey, I religiously followed a customized practice created by my teacher, Chase Bossart. I needed discipline. But, after some years of practice, I switched it up a bit. Currently, I practice my meditation right after I roll out and jot some notes. My mind is pretty quite at this point. There are only two rules for my meditation: 1) “KIS” – keep it simple, 2) keep it consistent. I focus on breathing for about 12 to 20 rounds, followed by mantra and visualization.
There are many forms of meditation. For me something simple and short works really well. Sitting for hours with an empty mind sounds like a mere impossibility. Not to mention, I’ve never met anyone in who can. If you are interested in meditation, the best approach is to find a qualified teacher who can tailor the practice based on your needs.
5) Movement (30 to 45 minutes)
”I was never a natural athlete, but I paid my dues in sweat and concentration, and took the time necessary to learn karate and became a world champion.”
Just like Chuck Norris, I was never a natural athlete, but I paid my dues. Well, I never became a world champion. But, working out turned a little chubby and clumsy kid into a fitness maniac!
I worked with many personal trainers, Star Pilates instructors, and top physical therapist for the last 15 years or so. So, I feel like I know exactly what I need at any given stage of my life. Currently, I spend between 30 to 45 minutes working out with weights, some high-intensity workouts, and knee rehab. Sometimes, I just spend 5-10 minutes dancing around the house.
You can enroll into an on-line fitness program like body-rock or betty-rocker. I ‘ve tried both and they offer pretty awesome programs. Or, hire a personal trainer, join the gym or workout in the comfort of you home. Not to mention, a 15-minute walk or a bike ride really counts. It all depends on where you are now and your goals.
6) Dry Brushing (less than 5 minutes)
I love dry brushing! It feels like a good exfoliation and massage. Supposedly, Dry Brushing increases the skin circulation and works on the lymphatic system. You can buy a simple brush on Amazon and start right away.
7) Warm Oil Massage (10 to 12 minutes)
“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
I’ve learned about the hot oil massage in Ayurveda. As dry-brushing, it also feels really good. You can mix up sesame, coconut, olive oils or buy a pre-made oil for Abhyanga massage. It would take a few session to get used to it. Pre-make oils for in a larger container and pour into a smaller pour as much oil as you need to cover your whole body into a glass bottle.
Steps for Self Massage:
- Place the small bottle in hot water for a few minutes.
- Stand on a towel in your bathroom.
- You can skip your head massage if you don’t feel like washing your hair.
- Message in a clockwise direction, starting with neck, hands, naval, moving towards feet.
- Use long, downward strokes along the muscles and circular movement on your joints.
- You can leave the oil on your body or wash it away with warm water, with or without soap.
- You can try not to use soap instead just dry with a towel.
8) Cold Shower (5 minutes)
The cold is your warm friend. Exposing your body to it in the right way starts a cascade of health benefits, including the buildup of brown adipose tissue and subsequent fat loss, reduced inflammation to facilitate a fortified immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the production of endorphins – the feel-good chemicals in the brain that naturally elevate your mood.
Wih Hof is amazing! Honestly, a cold shower wasn’t that much fun the beginning. Especially since I live in the cold climate. However, the feel-good chemicals do kick in, eventually. I’ve been using a contrast shower on and off for about 1 year. Interestingly, I’ve experienced pure childhood wonder after a cold shower only after a few months.
I’ve learned about cold from Wim Hof. In fact, he offers an entire system for cold emersions. However, you don’t need anything special for it. Start slow. After your warm shower, switch to cold for 20 seconds to start with and gradually (over the period of months) increase the cold shower.
9) Spend Time in Nature (15 to 50 minutes)
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”
― John Muir,
I’ve spent every day in nature in some form or another. In fact, my husband and I moved to a small mountain ski town outside of Boulder, Colorado so we can see the mountains from every window of our house. Typically, I walk my dog, Rocky every morning for half hour to an hour. However, I found some time to sneak away for a short walk even when I worked in the office in one of the most crowded cities in the world.
When I couldn’t walk due to my knee injury, I would just go on the deck to get some sun and appreciate the natural world.
Next time you head out, noticed how going on a walk outside can completely clear your head. Have more time, go for a hike in the park, forest or ocean side.
10) “Break-fast” (15 minutes)
Contrary to the popular believe, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. I see it as breaking my fast (a non-eating window from the last meal the day before). I like to fast for 16 to 20 hours daily and 24 hours once a week. But first, I feed Rocky. He is on home-made raw diet and it requires a bit of work. Additionally, gives me some extra time before I eat. My typical breakfast is quite plain. It consists of berries, avocado flax seeds and some raw cacao nibs and occasional quinoa or oatmeal if I am hungry.
Typically, I try to eat two meals a day, tops three with no snacks. My diet is quite simple. It consists of whole foods plant-based meals with some healthy fats.
11) Quality of Time (Timeless)
I feel like I have just enough time only if I plan things correctly and follow through. However, there are days when I binge on science-fiction TV operas, food, or social media. It sucks. As a result, I feel guilty and sometimes physically ill at times. I was able to reduce my binges over the years but not sure if they ever go away. So, I try to give myself some slack and allocate some hours to these most unproductive activities. Additionally, I don’t beat myself up as much. Instead, take a light-hearted approach.
From time to time, I have to push myself to start. Not to mention, I can find at least 1,000 reasons why I should not practice my morning therapy on any particular day. However, I always remember how I feel upon completion of my morning therapy.
So, my mantra is:
“Action Precedes Motivation.”
I will never be ready unless I start. Of course, there are days when I have to skip all the above and just take a nap!