Shake Shake Shake ...Shake your Booty (first thing in the morning)
Why we want to wake up and move our body?
Part of my morning routine (regardless of any other "exercise" I have planned for the day) is to do a 5- 30-minutebreath/ body practice. What is this you ask? Well, I'm happy to answer.
What this means is waking up and moving my physical body enough to get my pranic (breath) body engaged. For me, this might look like 5 minutes of jumping jacks or 20 minutes of yoga. It may include weights or using rubber bands. It may be that I slip into my sneakers and out the door for a brisk morning walk or head over to my outside staircase and run up and down for 15 minutes. Whatever it might be, the whole point is to get out of my sleepy head, invigorate my body and infuse my cells with oxygen.
Now, WHY on earth would I choose to do that over pouring a nice hot cup of joe, cuddling up in my robe and catching up with the New York Times?
Here's why... After sleeping all night your body is stiff, blood oxygen levels are low, blood flow is stagnant and every cell in your body is in need of a major shakedown. When cells are happy they have dynamic and integrated pulsation. When you first wake up your vibration is dull and stagnant. We want to build a strong vibrational field for the day ahead, so it's necessary that we give ourselves a wakeup call. When we air out the breath channels and ignite the physical body through coordinating breath and movement, you'll feel light, energized, grounded open and IN your body, not your head. Another benefit is that as you age, we want to build the skills and habits that strengthen and nurture your muscular-skeletal structure.
How to Start:
Before breakfast, get your body and breath moving for at LEAST 5 minutes. Start with any kind of movement that you enjoy and would like to incorporate into your other activities. For instance, if you usually go to a yoga or pilates class during the daytime, you'll want to add in more hardening exercises, using weights or kettle balls. On the other hand, if you hit the gym during the day, then you'll want to bring in more softening exercises like yoga, stretching and mat exercises. If you're someone that does a ton of cardio, then you want to balance it with hardening and softening routines.
If this is all new to you, just start with anything that you enjoy, that you can actually see yourself doing- walk, dance, stretch, stair-step, jumping jacks, burpees, sun salutations. Mix it up. Move from your breath, breathing deeply and fully through your nose. If you already have a morning breath/ body practice then crank it up. Expand your skills to enhance how you age.
As a culture, we are getting more and more stagnant, as we sit in front of computers and spend hours in our cars. Stagnation in your breath and blood vessels breads stagnation. Any substance in your body that is in excess or not moving becomes a breeding ground for toxicity. This sucks energy, instead of generates energy. Stagnation causes chronic and degenerative diseases, from diabetes, to cancer and obesity. Waking up to coffee and the computer is a recipe for stagnation and inflammation.
We want to wake up early and take out the trash (scrape your tongue of toxins, hydrate and poop). When we do this, we up- level our own vibration and blow out any stagnation in the the blood, the joints and even in the emotional body.
Ayurveda says that when we wake up we are tamasic or stagnant. We need to use rajas or heat generating action, and prana (life giving breath)to break up this dull vibration and infuse the blood with sattva or a higher vibratory field. We want to align our body and mind to meet the day feeling vibrant, excited and on the edge of our potential. We do not want to be lugging around an oxygen- deprived body and mind.
Establishing this habit insists that you move EVERY morning- before you eat, check your email or get on with your day in any way. Once you start to feel the effects of doing a movement practice everyday you will WANT to do it regardless of trips, holidays, later in the day activities and any other disruptive chaos join your life. Some days you’ll want to move for longer periods of time and some mornings your body or your schedule will only allow for a short burst of movement.
By gorging on oxygen, you enable your brain to make better decisions such as what to feed yourself, who to spend time with and how you spend your time. If you think of the long term effects of this practice- it has HUGE compounding positive consequences on your health, your relationships and life in general.
Infusing our blood with prana (which is energy, consciousness and cosmic intelligence), moves into the organ body and our deepest cells. Moving the limbs around is one thing (and good) but when we move our limbs from the breath body in a deeply co-ordinated way, our blood, internal organs and limbs become integrated. When we do this, we enter a state of “flow” that shallow unconscious breathing cannot access. Our cells literally yearn for breath centered movement because it partners our mind and body and clears stagnation, inflammation and potential disease.
As you can see, that morning routine that has you rolling out of bed and plugging into technology first thing is not conducive to setting you up a for a vibrant, energized and optimal day. If all of this sounds hard and unattractive - I challenge you to give it a go. Kaizen is the method we use around here- 1% incremental steps in the direction of a goal. First of all, decide how you REALLY want to feel on a daily basis then back it up to how you start your day.
Pick one or two activities that you actually enjoy. Look at what you have going on “workout wise” during the day and balance it with something a little different. For example: if you hit the gym at 5pm after work, then make your morning practice softer (yoga, stretching or even going for a walk) If you’re a yogi and have a regular practice you’ll want to balance it by adding in more hardening and cardio practices.
Below are a list of suggested practices that you can incorporate into a 5-30 minute morning breath/ body routine.
• Weightlifting, kettle balls, weight training
• Plyometrics or tactical bodyweight training ie: Tabata
• Push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, and other repetitive exercises
• Running and repetitive- movement sports
• Breath work, including pranayama
• Mobility exercises
• Yoga ( my personal favorite)
• Pilates, Barre
• Martial arts, Tai chi or Qigong
• Basketball, Soccer, Tennis, Frisee
• Metabolic Training
• Surfing, paddle boarding, biking
• Jumping rope, jumping jacks, push-ups, burpees, sit-ups, and other dynamic exercises
• Running Stairs
• Intense movement that gets your heart rate up and blood pumping.
The whole idea is to cross- train in all three categories.
Decide what is DOABLE for you to start to implement a movement practice into your daily routine. Does it mean setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier, going to bed 1`/2 hour earlier or telling your family this is what you’re doing and you need their support. Ask you partner NOT to ask you to watch another episode of the “Walking Dead” so that you can go to bed earlier. Perhaps you set up your space where you can work out so it’s ready to go in the am. Put out your workout clothes so they’re easy to access in the morning and commit to yourself to do 10 minutes. If that’s too long try 5 minutes. The point is to start to lay the ground work for making this an automated habit (you JUST DO IT not think about it)
This is one of the very best INVESTMENTS you can make in your health and overall wellness.