For many of us, the morning hours often consist of pressing the snooze button a handful of times, followed by a rushed breakfast (maybe), a hectic commute to a workout or to work, and lots and lots of coffee.
Knowing that it doesn’t have to be this way, we asked yoga instructors, known for their ability to set (and keep) positive intentions, what their mornings rituals look like.
Not surprisingly, they all make me-time a priority before checking their email and teaching classes, whether by doing a 5-minute meditation, going for a run, or swimming with dolphins. We’re not kidding.
Read on to find out how these inspiring yogis across the country start their day, and maybe it’ll help you craft a less-crazed morning for yourself. (Dolphins probably not included.) —Randi Eichenbaum
Photo: Cristi Christensen
“When I was younger, I was a natural early riser. Now I find I need more encouragement to wake up early,” admits the busy California mom of two, who in addition to running her own yoga studio, leads a career as a political strategist, and also heads up her own consulting firm. “The first thing I do–and I have to remind myself to do it—is I take 15 deep breaths. I don’t always sit for meditation. Instead, I lay still and silently in bed, almost in savasana. I consciously send breath to three specific places in my body: my back ribs, my upper chest, and up to the top of my head. I say my mantra, I get distracted, and then I come back. Then I get going with the kids’ routine. They shower and eat breakfast–I don’t.”
The multi-sport athlete–she’s a former elite level gymnast and platform diver–wakes up with the sun. Literally. “It blazes through my window, so I’m an early riser,” she says. “I have two different morning routines based on time [of the class I’m teaching]. Both start with drinking a big glass of water. If I have a little more time, my absolute favorite way to start the day is heading down to the ocean with my surfboard. Even if there are no waves, just to get in, swim around, be in the water, watch the sun fully come up, and be able to see the birds, dolphins, and seals! This entire process becomes my movement mediation, clearing my mind and spirit for the day. Then I shower, walk to my teashop, pick up an acai bowl or green smoothie, and head to work.”
Nicole Katz, owner of Yoga 216
“‘May I do as you would have me do, may I be as you would have me be.’ I heard [spiritual teacher and author] Marianne Williamson say that in an interview once, and I loved it. It puts me in a great space of receiving for my day,” the owner of the chic boutique yoga studio in West Chelsea says of her daily morning mantra. “I always start the morning with my morning coffee ritual: I’m always up before my husband, so I make one great cup of coffee with steamed almond milk and cuddle up on the couch for my morning prayer and meditation. I have to have that time to set the intention and tone for my day.”
“The first thing I do is head to the kitchen to make my morning cup of matcha,” says the popular Pure instructor and tea entrepreneur. “It delivers the health benefits of several cups of steeped green tea and is packed with catechins, chlorophyll, antioxidants, and theanine (an amino acid that keeps one calm and focused). I make mine using the traditional bamboo whisk with almond milk and a dash of maple syrup. The preparation is its own meditation.”
“Morning is my favorite time of the day,” says the San Francisco-based yogi and avid runner. “My practice is to not give in to the ‘doing’ right away, so I have a no-computer rule until after my routine. I want to wake up to me, not my work. So, my first stop is either on the mat or in the gym, so I can ignite movement and energy that will focus and fuel my day. Weather permitting, I try to get outside. Going for a run helps orient me to the present and gets me out of the spin of all I have to do that day. By making space and investing in my wellness first thing, I stretch my capacity to show up in my day and in the world.”
“I wake up between 5:45 and 6:30 a.m. most mornings. I’ve always been an early riser,” says the longtime yogi instructor who heads up the teaching training program at the Sherman Oaks studio. “I start the day with java and then go straight into morning meditation for 5 to 15 minutes, cardio for 30 minutes, and then my yoga practice, which varies depending on the day and my body. I finish with prayer and meditation for the day’s work with my students–both past and present. I spend a few minutes sending love and light to various people who are going through particularly hard times. Then I get cleaned up for the day.”
“I’m up by 7 a.m. every morning,” says the gorgeous instructor at the popular Brentwood, California, yoga studio. “I drink some water, and then make my way to a special, quiet place in my home to meditate for about 15 minutes. Then I blend a green smoothie with ginger, kale, spinach, apple, almond milk, oregano, banana, and ice and I top if off with turmeric powder and black pepper. After that, I jump in the shower and get dressed. Taking anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes in meditation is the most important thing for me. It keeps me calm and present during my day. On the days I can take a hike first thing in the morning, I do, and then top it off with an 11 a.m. class with (owner of Maha Yoga Studio) Steve Ross. It’s the perfect way to start my day!”
“Some people think that all yogis wake up at 5 a.m. to do their asana practice, but I am not an early riser by nature–I like my sleep!” says the New Yorker, Jivamukti and Sacred Sounds instructor, and founder of Provita, a service that provides private, on-demand yoga and fitness sessions online. “I usually wake up around 8 a.m., which to me is early. I resist the urge to check my phone or email right away to not disturb the subtle state of my mind that just came out of the sleep state. I stretch, splash some water on my face, and then I sit to meditate. After meditation, I go into the kitchen and my hubby always has a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee waiting for me. Always just what I need!”
Here’s a tip to get you out the door in the morning on time: turn on the tunes while getting ready, as co-owner and instructor Rebecca Weible does. “I really think it helps me be more efficient with both time and organization!” she says. “Once I’m ready for the day, I enjoy a simple but leisurely breakfast with time to chill out, and I drink a cup of coffee while reading, watching TV, or even just having quiet time to reflect on my upcoming day. This ritual makes me feel peaceful and relaxed, which makes it easier to maintain that mindset as I go about my day.”