Morning Routine to Ignite Your Day!

I've always been a morning person - even after no sleep- sleepovers with my girlfriends in high school, I was always up with the sun, out for a run while everyone else slept in.  I love mornings, but over the past few months I found myself dragging in the morning and reaching for coffee or sweet things to wake me up.  While the caffeine and sugar certainly got me going, I didn't like the way it made me feel later - more tired in the afternoon, and unhappy with myself for starting my day off poorly.  And my skin was going nuts - breaking out a lot, which was weird for me.

I decided that the new year would be a good time to re-vamp my morning.  My new routine is based on Ayurveda practices.  Ayurveda - the "science of life"- is a 5,000 year old system of natural healing from India.  It offers lifestyle guidelines that support lasting vitality and balance.  

In the short time since I started my new routine, I've noticed great changes - my skin is clearing up, my smile is brighter, and, most important of all, I feel invigorated and excited to take on the day.  I feel like my normal, morning-person self once again.  

Here are my secrets to morning success:

- Water (with lemon) - Immediately upon waking I drink a glass of water, usually with lemon.  Lemon is great for stimulating the digestive system and is naturally detoxing.  In the summer, I put a big glass of water with lemon slices in the refrigerator at night so it is nice and cold when I wake up.  In the winter, I will often have my lemon in hot water, sometimes with raw local honey and cinnamon. 

- Oil Pulling - After my water, I place a tablespoon of coconut oil in my mouth and swish it around for 10-15 minutes.  Oil pulling is a natural was to strengthen the teeth and the gums, as well as "pull" bacteria and toxins out of the body.  At the end, spit the oil into the trash and rinse your month with fresh water to get rid of any of those toxins.

- Dry Brushing - Few people realize that the skin is the largest organ in the body, and that it is an organ of elimination.  Dry brushing helps to stimulate your lymphatic system, unclog your pores, and release toxins that may be trapped in the skin.  While it takes a few days to get used to the brush, I love how this practice wakes me up and invigorates my whole body. 

- Tongue Scraping - This involves scraping the tongue with a U-shaped metal instrument.  I know, I know, it sounds a little weird and crazy, but trust me, it has its benefits.  In Ayurveda, this practice is meant to remove 'ama' - accumulated toxic residue resulting from improper eating, poor digestion, or an imbalance in your system.  I like that it makes my mouth feel cleaner, my breath fresher, and my food tastes better (since your taste buds aren't clogged or blocked). 

I also like to splash my face with cold water a few times and brush my teeth.  Then I usually do some sort of exercise (run or yoga) to really get my blood moving (this wakes you up better than coffee).  I still have my morning cup of joe, but I've found I don't need as much if I've done all the things listed above (mainly I just like the comfort of a warm cup on these cold winter mornings!). 

As I mentioned, these small changes have had a great impact on my well-being and mood.  I'd love to hear about your morning rituals and how they set the tone for your day.  Also, if you do try out any of my suggestions above, let me know how its going in the comments below!