Welcome to My Morning Routine, where Santa Cruz, CA-based yogis Mariam and Rolf Gates—and other good-life gurus—share their personal (frequently surprising, often healthy) morning rituals to help you make your a.m.’s more awesome.
I like to wake up at 5:15 a.m. to write. Heading down to my office with a cup of coffee when the house is quiet is a very precious time—yes, still coffee! It’s like an old friend in the morning. I have to set a little alarm by my bed to make this happen, but it’s worth it.
For our family’s morning yoga sessions, we use Yoga Vibes online streaming. It’s a support to follow a class, especially at that time of day; then I don’t have to be in “planning” mind around what comes next, I just practice.
I make my smoothie with a cup of organic apple juice, a scoop of egg white protein, and a cup each of organic fruit and greens. I also make the kids’ lunches—they love a stir fry, so I try to prep it the night before because this can take a little extra time. [Then] I jump in the shower. I love using Biolage shampoo and conditioner—the products are sulfate-free and formulated with acai berry and argan oil, which makes my hair soft without feeling heavy.
When I am back at my desk at around 8:30 a.m., I use a “three out of five rule” before I delve into my responsibilities as an author and the co-director of Gates Yoga Enterprises. There are five specific ways I take care of myself mentally, physically, and spiritually each day. I make sure I do at least three each morning, more if I can: 1) yoga: at least 30 minutes, an hour is preferable; 2) meditation: at least 20 minutes; 3) intention-setting: For this I use the visualization How Do I Want to Feel Today in Good Morning Yoga—this version was written for kids, but it uses the same principles I use in my own focusing exercises each day; 4) reading: I spend a few minutes reading something that inspires me—I love Rolf’s new book and anything by Brené Brown; 5) connecting with community: This includes reaching out to friends, asking for help where I need it, offering help where I can. It helps me to remember that these relationships are not just luxuries; they are a part of how I feel connected to myself and the world.
I’m up at 5:15 a.m. to meditate for an hour. Sunrise is an auspicious moment of the day to sit in silence. When you start early, you get the energy you need for the rest of the day (and you avoid being in any conflict around scheduling the time).
By 6:30 a.m., I wake the kids—Jasmine, 12, and Dylan, 9—and we alternate between a 30-minute yoga routine as a family or a 15- to 20-minute meditation depending on the day.
My morning smoothie after yoga is chock-full of organic greens. Even when I’m on the road I make sure to have the following ingredients to balance out hotel living: 2 cups of greens, 10 ounces of coconut water (I like Vita Coco), a scoop of egg white protein, half a banana, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
To keep things running smoothly for our family, we’ve started putting everything in the backpacks the night before (except lunch). We’ve also instituted a “calm zone” from 7:50 to 8 a.m. so that leaving on time is not derailed by the chaos of the “wrong socks” or the last-minute need for an umbrella.
When I’m back from walking our daughter to school, I have time to either do a more intensive yoga practice or, if the conditions are right, I head out for a surf. My favorite thing, when I’m not traveling or coaching people, is to get out in the water with friends and then head back for a lunch with Mariam midday. It’s a good life.