Maybe you’ve read somewhere that meditating first thing in the morning was the best thing you could do to start your day light and bright. So you’ve been sitting, but really suffering, through 20 minutes of daily morning meditation. Sadly all you’re feeling is your achy back.
Or perhaps you’ve heard that a cardio work out upon awakening would provide the best endorphin high and quick-start your metabolism like nothing else. Except it’s taken every bit of your will power to get your sleepy head to the treadmill. Most days you just run late to work, there’s your workout.
Whether the first or second example speaks to you most, my point is following someone else’s recipe rarely works. Ayurveda tells us that one-size-fits-all anything…fits nobody. Tailoring how we eat, exercise, sleep, live (!) to our unique needs and personality is key is we are to experience ease and flow. The same applies to that precious hour or so after waking up, otherwise known as the morning ritual.
Perhaps it’s not the right kind for you. Perhaps you’ve missed the central ingredient to any successful morning ritual: to meet your mood. In other words you should always begin your morning ritual with a practice energetically similar to the mood you’re in, in that moment.
Fail to do so and your ritual will feel jarring. You’ll increasingly dread it, if it’s still in place at all. Let’s face it, who wants to start their day clashing with themselves?! The goal of a morning ritual is to gently pick you up where you are and ease you into the day feeling energized and centered.
Do you wake up with the sun bright and early, ready to hold a conversation? Or rather hit the snooze button over and over, before dragging yourself to the bathroom eyes barely open? Or maybe you wake up blissful, not too high, not too low, just so? (Honestly I don’t know anyone who does.)
Yogic psychology looks at those different emotional states through the lens of the three Maha Gunas, or great qualities. The Maha Gunas are present in the entire universe, including you. They are called sattva, rajas and tamas. David Frawley, author of The Mind -The Healing of Consciousness, says “The three gunas are the most subtle qualities of Nature that underlie matter, life, mind. They are the energies through which not only the surface mind, but also our deeper consciousness functions.” Whichever guna/quality is dominant in you will determine how you feel emotionally.
• Sattva is the aspect of creation that is luminous, conscious, harmonious. Think clarity, intelligence, balance.
• Rajas is the aspect of creation that is active, changeable, in motion. Think sunrise, striving, passion.
• Tamas is the aspect of creation that is stable, dull, dark, veiled. Think nighttime, heavy, unconscious.
When expressed through our minds, this is what the gunas look like.
• The sattvic state is clear, balanced, poised, joyful.
• The rajasic state is agitated, anxious, driven, high-strung.
• The tamasic state is foggy, sluggish, dull, depressed.
Most of us tend to feel more rajasic or tamasic. What is your inclination upon awakening? Once you’ve figured that out you’ll want to tailor your morning ritual so that it meets your morning mood. Regardless of where you start the idea is to move towards a more balanced, sattvic state.
If you wake up on the restless, anxious side (rajasic), you’ll want to meet that energy with a more active practice then gradually slow things down. For example:
If you wake up on the dull, sluggish side (tamasic), you’ll want to meet that energy with a slower practice then gradually perk things up. For example:
I did include meditation in both sequences because it is such a sattvic, balancing practice for everyone. That said, how you come to it, how long you sit and the meditation style you use will all depend on who you are. Helping my clients design this type of ritual, and overtime develop the confidence to do so themselves is what I do. Self-care rituals (dinacharya) are the foundation for health, according to Ayurveda. The structure they provide helps us better channel our energy, for more ease and efficiency. If you need some of that there are several ways we can work together, all deets are here.
Let me know if this post was helpful. I’d love to hear about your morning experimentation! You can share in the comment section below.
Have a great day ~