A Simple Morning Practice to Prepare your Body and Mind for Success
In order to break free from limiting beliefs and face your financial life head-on, it is necessary not only to have a healthy body, but also a strong, agile mind. A prepared mind will allow you to far exceed your presumed limitations. You can train the brain. I can’t stress enough how important mental preparedness is for addressing any situation that you might encounter in life. One of my business coaches suggested I imagine myself as a ninja warrior when I go into stressful situations. Visualization techniques are a good way to be prepared for whatever you might face. If the brain imagines something in vivid detail, it becomes as much a part of your experience as if it had really happened. The mind is extremely powerful, and you can learn how to train that power to your advantage. When I started my yoga certification, we were instructed to pick a specific practice for 40 days. I chose intuition. Two weeks into the practice, I swear I heard a loud crack! Not my back, it was my intuition opening!
The path of Waking the Warrior Woman starts gently with this simple morning practice intended to refresh and clean the subconscious as we cleanse the physical body. Eventually, the goal is to achieve mental discipline and connect to the infinite wisdom. Your morning practice will occupy about twenty minutes a day once you get the hang of it. It begins with basic relaxation, stretching, deep breathing, and mental practices. Personally, I am much more consistent if I start my morning practice while still in bed, especially in cold winter months! Practice the following relaxation techniques in your morning routine to fuse your body, spirit, and mind.
Life is stressful, and stress is a major cause of all sorts of health issues. It’s important to let your mental and physical engine recuperate for short periods. Done properly, relaxation practice allows new energy to flow back into tired bodies and minds. But the practice must be deep to be effective. It must reach right down to the core of your being. By setting aside time for a few precious moments of profound tranquility every morning, you will emerge refreshed and energized to face the day.
All you need to do for this practice is lie flat on your back. If you start this right after you wake up, you don’t even need to move to begin! Breathe in and out slowly and deeply a few times. Slump. Your arms should be parallel to your body and feet slightly apart. Go over each part of your body in your mind. Are your feet relaxed? How about your knees, your belly, your brow? If not, allow yourself to sag even more completely. Let your body go. Review your body again, starting at the head and working your way down. Tense and then relax the muscles of the eyebrows, mouth, lower jaw, tongue, neck, shoulders, and on down. Did your jaw drop open? If not, you have further to relax. When you think a muscle group is relaxed, relax it even more.
If it helps, you can visualize yourself in your “happy place.” We all have at least one of these. For me it is a little red rowboat in which I used to float on a lake as a child, mesmerized with rocking back and forth in the sunshine. I go there mentally to relax when I am under significant pressure. As you float off to your happy place, tensing and relaxing each of your muscles in turn, you will begin to feel a peace stealing over you. Ten minutes a day will renew your body. I put this first because it is the most important thing to do every day, but it can be done any time during the day.
Breathing, as much as food, holds the key to our life energy—mentally, emotionally, and physically. Breathing generates the energy we need to lead an abundant life. It is through breath that you navigate up levels of consciousness, rising from instinctual to elevated. Connecting with your breath is a method for being present and the foundation of meditation.
By changing the breathing pattern, we can produce different states of mind. Slowing down the breath has a soothing effect on your emotional state. When the breath is retained, it stimulates the brain’s capillaries to dilate. In this way, more capillaries in the brain are opened, improving cerebral circulation. This builds an immense amount of energy in the brain, forcing the creation of new neural pathways and the activation of dormant centers- the brain is activated and awakened!
Oceanic breath (Ujjayi breath) is super simple and calming yet energizing at the same time. To practice, close your mouth and take a deep, slow inhale through your nose. Hold the breath in for a moment and then let it out naturally and passively through the mouth like you are trying to fog a mirror. By forming the HAHHH sound in the back of the throat as you exhale, nerve endings are stimulated in your brain. Close your eyes and notice how this HAHHH creates a sound like the waves crashing to the shore.
As you breathe in, visualize the invigorating, life-giving power flowing into your body and charging it with renewed energy. As you exhale, visualize the ejection of waste from every part of your system. This mental aspect is extremely important. Visualization will be used as a building block for disciplining and empowering your mind. Do eight breaths to feel like a new person.
Stretching is symbolic on many levels. You need to stretch yourself to your best every day. Build up the stretches slowly, hold them briefly and then let go. Stretching is nature’s way of reviving the body. It sends a reviving blood flush to the extremities, bringing new nourishment to stagnant parts, drawing away waste. The muscle groups are massaged into action.
Stretches are designed to keep the body young, supple and absolutely glowing with health. Don’t only stretch the limbs, stretch the chest, spine, and abdomen. The spine is the arterial road of the nervous system and you can’t do anything without nervous energy. To a very great extent the flexibility of the spine and the area housing your internal organs have the greatest influence over health and longevity.
• Toned, fit body
• Stronger bones and joints
• Increased energy, strength and endurance
• Weight control
• Improved mood
• Strengthened immune system
• Increased self esteem
Eye Opener Stretch
The Eye Opener Stretch can be challenging, but when done correctly it has a tremendous effect on the entire body. By working on the navel point, the Eye Opener Stretch resets the entire nervous system and strengthens the abdominal area. It boosts resolve and self-esteem. Here’s how to do it.
• Lie on your back.
• Raise your head and heels 6 inches off the ground.
• Focus the eyes on the toes and stretch the toes so they point away from you.
• Place your arms either above your thighs with the palms facing down but not touching the legs, or alongside your legs with the palms facing your body but not touching. To make this easier, you may place your hands under your tush. Raise one leg at a time, and then switch after a minute or so. Or try bending your knees slightly. You may want to start with alternating ten seconds in the pose with ten seconds of rest. Build up your time slowly and rest when you finish. As you feel yourself getting stronger, increase the hold time and decrease the rest time.
As you get the hang of it, you can begin to hold this posture longer. Most people can muscle through the first 30 seconds or so, but then our bodies start to shake and our faces may contort before we collapse. Just do what you can. Build up over time. Be gentle with yourself.
This is such a gentle way to start flexing the spine. I do this lots of times during the day to reduce tension in my back. Sit in easy pose (crossing your shins while sitting on the floor or mattress). Widen your knees and slip each foot beneath the opposite knee as you bend your knees and fold the legs in toward your torso. Grab your ankles with both hands and deeply inhale. Flex the spine forward and lift the chest up. On the exhale, flex the spine backwards. Keep the head level so it does not flip-flop. Do this back and forth for one minute, increasing time as you like. (You can sit in a chair if this is difficult).
Sufi grinding is one of my favourite exercises. When I circle my spine I feel my entire upper body open up, stretch, relax, and release tension. All of my internal organs get a great massage (it’s great if you’re a bit constipated!) and the deep breathing totally cleanses and refreshes my system. One to three minutes is all it takes for a total mental, emotional, and energetic re-set! It’s incredible. Here’s how to do it.
Sit in easy pose again. Hold the knees gently in your palms. Begin by rotating the spine in a big circle, keeping the head upright. Inhale as you circle forward across the knees and exhale as you rotate back. After eight rotations to the right, switch direction to the left.
Close your morning practice session by having a big scrumptious stretch all over and set your intention for the day.
Note: Not all exercises are suitable for everyone and these exercises may result in injury. If you engage in these exercises, you agree that you do so at your own risk.