Do you find it especially difficult to get out of bed these days? As winter approaches, and the days are shorter than ever, it is so hard to “up and at ‘em!” The bed is comfy cozy and it’s dark and cold out there…. Can’t we all just hit a global “snooze” button and wake up when it’s spring?
Unfortunately we’ve got things to do, people to see and money to earn. So here are three helpful tips to wake up bright eyed and bushy-tailed to last you ’til the first buds appear.
But before I share some “morning secrets” with you, it helps if you start modifying your “nighttime hygiene” by hitting the sheets earlier and creating some rituals around bedtime.
- Unplug any computer related equipment in your room. And make sure that you do not charge your cell phone anywhere near your bed.
- Floss and brush your teeth, and drink some water before sleeping so that you won’t awaken at 2 a.m. dehydrated and cranky.
- Breathe with “Bare Attention” until you drift off (see technique below for basic instructions on how to do this).
Wake up like a champ!
Now that you’ve established your simple sleep rituals, here are some new rituals to help you crawl out of bed awake, refreshed and un-grumpy!
1. Tune in to your breath
The first few moments of awakening we are still in a deeply sedated state of mind (unless your alarm clock was blaring speed metal to wake you!). Try to extend this tranquil time for 3-5 minutes by practicing a breathing meditation for a few minutes called “Bare Attention.”
Here’s how to do it: Notice that you are aware that you are waking up. Instead of opening your eyes and moving, remain perfectly still and let your mind become an “observer” of the way your body is currently breathing. There is no need to change or manipulate your breath in any way — simply watch your breath move in when it moves in, and watch your breath move out when it moves out. It’s as if you are a “breath scientist” studying the behavior of your own breath. This will help you to remain calm, aware and focused throughout your day.
2. Follow your animal instinct
Watch a cat or dog awaken, and notice how they actually tighten their whole body and then stretch while they are still stiffening their muscles everywhere. They literally ripple as they stretch! This type of stretching, called PNF or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, is great for people, too: It unravels and melts stiffness in the muscles and connective tissues and stimulates your cells from inside out. So, after you finish your breath work, start on what I like to call “squirm work.”
How to do it: Upon waking, channel your inner animal and imagine your body is coated in thick elastic. Press your body and limbs into the bed, sheets and blankets as if they are also made of thick elastic. Begin to move against your “opponent” (the bed-stuff) until you have wrestled yourself into a position that feels like an unnaturally “natural” shape. Encourage a deep breath into your body, and then squirm again with even more internal resistance by tightening your abdominals, buttocks, thighs and arms. It will feel as if your whole body is taking gigantic yawns. Aim to do this for 3-4 minutes.
3. Brush up to wake up
Skin brushing is a yogic cleansing technique that focuses on vigorous skin exfoliation. This is done on dry skin before a shower with a firm loofah, bath mitt or other skin brush. This brisk brushing improves circulation and gives you a lively jolt as if you’d downed an espresso.
How to do it: Step into a non-running bathtub or shower in the buff. Take a huge inhale, hold your breath and then vigorously scrub the top and bottoms of your right foot in a circular motion using a loofa, mitt, or skin brush until you can no longer hold the breath. Exhale. Inhale again, hold breath firmly, and then scrub the left foot til you need to exhale. Proceed with this invigorating breathing technique and briskly brush the remaining regions of your body in the following sequence (one breath per section):
- right calf
- left calf
- right thigh
- left thigh
- right hip/buttock
- left hip/buttock
- right hand and forearm
- left hand and forearm
- right shoulder
- left shoulder
- lower back
- upper back (hmm… better try some Yoga Tune Up® shoulder stretches!)
This 3-5 minute sequence will flood you with endorphins, get your heart soaring and leave your skin and soul glowing! You’ll feel like you’ve just worked out, and ready to take on the day!