Having a morning practice is an amazing way to set the tone of your day and the key is to simplify it as much as possible. Don’t worry about all the little things you need to do to have the “perfect morning,” but rather, just make sure you are doing something for your mind, your body, and your soul. The goal is to create balance.
When we balance the mind, body, and spirit, we have a much calmer physical and emotional state. This holistic approach is known as hatha yoga, or yoga of the West. It is a way of life that includes expanding your spirituality, but also indulging in the pleasures of this human life. Focusing on both naturally creates more balance in your life and subsequently, more peace, joy, and ease. So, by starting with a balanced morning, our whole being is in a high vibrational state, and if something sets us off during the day, we are less likely to be reactive.
The best way to balance the mind, body, and soul is to create a practice that includes movement, meditation, and mindfulness. These are the “3 M’s” that I encourage all of my yoga students to include. There are numerous ways to incorporate these like running, pilates, breathwork, seated meditation, or journaling, but I love to simplify it even more by doing a 20 minute simple sun salutation (i.e. Surya Namaskar.)
If you’ve been to a yoga class, then this is essentially the “warm-up.” The Sanskrit word, Surya, translates to “the sun” and Namaskar translates “to bow down.” It can be interpreted as an act of bowing to the divine. You are opening up your heart and surrendering to the beautiful practice of yoga that helps to connect you with your true self. It is also a beautiful way to rise and energize with ease, just like the sun does so effortlessly.
This flow is intended to target all areas of the body. There are many variations of poses and length, so you should adapt to how your body and mind feel. Make sure to focus deeply on your breath. If you struggle with this, be sure to have a seated meditation or breathwork session afterward, to make sure you still the mind and connect with the soul.
Here’s a step by step flow of Surya Namaskar A:
1. Tadasana (Mountain pose): Stand at the top of your mat, hips distance apart. Ground all ten toes into your mat and let your hands naturally face palms-forward. Let yourself take a deep inhale and exhale to begin.
2. Upward Salute: While inhaling, gracefully bring your hands up over the sides of your body to the sky. Allow them to touch, and point upwards.
3. Uttanasana (Standing forward bend): Exhale deeply and audibly, while folding forward. Allow your hands to sway or touch the matt/ankles. Let your head and neck soften, while you ground your feet firmly.
4. Arda Uttanasanan (Half-forward bend): Gently allow your fingertips to touch the mat while you gaze forward and straighten your arms.
5. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down dog): Take your first down dog by exhaling while bringing the bent knee to straighten. Allow both legs to rise, with both heels on the mat. Take multiple breaths and gently bend and straighten the legs to feel a relaxing stretch.
6. Phalakasana (Plank pose): Inhale and lower your body so that you are parallel with the ground.
7. Chaturanga Dandasana (Staff Pose): Jump or step your feet back while lowering your body to the ground by using your triceps. The goal is to keep your body straight. Exhale.
8. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward dog): Inhale while you draw your chest forward. Allow your legs to straighten while you gaze upwards and feel a chest stretch.
9. Downward dog.
10. Standing forward bend.
11. Upward salute.
12. Mountain pose.
As a yoga teacher, I know how important it is to simplify your practice. We have to let go of expectations and instead focus on the intention, not the outcome. Try adding an intention to your morning practice and also, for the rest of your day.