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The Ayurvedic rituals and yoga videos that kick-start Rachel Brathen’s day


rachel-brathen-morning-routineWelcome to My Morning Routine, where Rachel Brathen and other good-life gurus share their personal (frequently surprising, often healthy) morning rituals—to help you make your a.m.s more awesome.

Rachel Brathen
Yoga teacher, author of Yoga Girl, and founder of the non-profit 109 World

I usually wake up around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. My workday doesn’t start until 10:00 a.m., and I like to make sure I have a slow, easy start to my day—this means no social media or computer time before that! It’s a rule we keep around the house that doesn’t always work, but it helps me try to keep a distinct line between work and time off.

The moment I wake up, I snuggle up with my husband and our dogs (who are all always in the bed at the same time) for as long as I can. I’m usually the first out of bed, and after going to the bathroom I immediately reach for my coconut oil. This is the first step of my morning routine: oil pulling. I take a swig of coconut oil and swish it around in my mouth for 20 minutes. It’s an ancient Ayurvedic technique.

Twenty minutes is a fairly long time to be swishing oil around your mouth, so I continue oil pulling while I move on to preparing for my second and third step of my morning routine: hot water with lemon and my yoga practice. Drinking hot water with lemon also stems from the practice of Ayurveda, and is a way to start your day with a “clean slate.” I never drink coffee in the morning but prefer the light pick-me-up of the lemon water. I usually also bring a big glass of cold water, as my practice is always sweaty and dynamic.

After this, I roll out my mat and get my yoga towel and all the props I like to use for my practice. Sometimes I practice with my favorite teachers online on oneoeight.tv and sometimes it’s just me and my breath—either way I use props like blocks and a strap to give my body the support it needs. If I’m practicing on my own I make sure to turn on really good music—I have tons of yoga playlists on Spotify and I make new ones every week.

Right around here, the 20 minutes of my oil pulling is usually up; I have my hot water and lemon ready, yoga mat rolled out, maybe a candle lit… I spit the coconut oil out in the trash; it’s important to never swallow it or spit it down the drain, as it can clog up the pipes and your body. Then head over to my mat. Before I move my body I take a moment to sit in silence on my mat, drinking my lemon water, sometimes journaling a bit or meditating on my intentions for the day.

Then: yoga time. I usually practice for a good 90 minutes but this depends on how I’m feeling and the mood I’m in. I live in Aruba so it gets fairly hot early on; my practice is always super sweaty! I love integrating lots of core work and inversions into my home practice.

When I’ve finished my yoga practice I’m soaked in sweat, and the dogs and my husband are finally out of bed. I take the dogs for a quick walk, and if we have rescue puppies in the pen—we normally do—I spend some time with them. I run an animal rescue organization and almost always have a litter of puppies to take care of. It’s a lot of work, but so fulfilling to know I’m making a difference for dogs in need.

I shower and get dressed. I work from home, so getting dressed usually just means jeans and a T-shirt—or yoga pants! I never wear makeup during the day but always make sure to care for my skin. I love Origins products, and I put on sunscreen every morning.

After getting dressed I’m usually starving—an hour and a half of yoga will do that! I make a giant pitcher of green juice every single morning, which I share with my husband and my assistant. What I put in the juice differs every day but it’s usually a mix of apple, kale, lemon, cucumber, orange and spinach. Sometimes I add ginger or some celery, too.

I wait a bit after drinking my juice before I eat, so it’s more of a brunch than breakfast I guess. Oatmeal with coconut milk, blueberries, and chia seeds, gluten-free toast with avocado, or a big creamy smoothie are my go-tos for breakfast. By now it’s work-o-clock, so I turn on my computer and get started on my emails.

My morning routine includes a lot, but I so cherish the very first hours of the day! Making my mornings sacred and dedicated to my well-being gives me energy to work hard and stay balanced for the rest of the day. —As told to Victoria Lewis

Always need more a.m. inspiration? Check out the morning routines of beauty buff April Gargiulo (who swears by this skin-boosting breakfast bowl) and The Butcher’s Daughter founder—and bubble bath proponent—Heather Tierney.