By Liila Hass, Registered Naturopath and Counsellor
Want to get your day off to a positive start, create energy and happiness and keep toxins and worries at bay? Below are a few tips taken from the books of the spiritual masters and ancient traditions to help set you up for a day of happiness, successful and wellbeing:
As soon as you open your eyes, while still in bed, bend your knees up to your chest and hold them tightly with both arms, gently pressing your legs against the diaphragm (you can exhale as you do so), then rapidly releasing your legs, letting them return to their place in a straight position. Do this posture three times. Known as Apanasana (“asana” is a position we hold comfortably and “apana” means “the downward moving force”, this posture helps us move the life force downward and, when done with a bit of speed and vigour, it helps transfer the toxic load that has accumulated overnight down through the body and outwards, so that we do not carry excess stagnancy with us during the day. It also reduces tension and removes waste, so it can be a life-saver for those with busy lives who need a quick morning reboot.
This exercise has many additional benefits, including warming the lower back and hips before we rise, stretching the lumbar (lower) spine muscles, increasing our range of motion at the hip and knee joints, helping remove stagnant air that would otherwise lead to bloating and gas and reduces acidity and constipation. In addition, by moving the air internally and downward, our thoughts may also travel in the same direction, helping us to stay calm and centred. What could be better?
Now you can sit up, but before leaving your bed, this is an excellent time to reflect for a few minutes (or even one or two, if you have a busy day). Remember your Maker! Take the time out just to get in touch with who you are and why you are here. Think about your intentions for the day, remember your family members and others who may need your help, be brave in your goals, and think about other beings, not just humans, that may need our care. If you feel the need, write in your journal while the mind is still clear: What have you come here to achieve? Who do you want to be today?
Now you are ready to rise.
Our first task out of bed is to carry on with our detox regime. Overnight, our body continued its process of digestion and as a result, small bacteria have come up and landed on our tongue. The outcome is that by the time we wake up, many of us experience “morning breath” and a sluggishness of the body. A quick and easy way to remove the toxic buildup is to use a tongue scraper, designed specifically to help keep our mouths clean and fresh and free of excess waste products. If you do not own a tongue scraper, you can purchase on at the Oneness Wellbeing Store, or you can simply use a spoon that is sharp enough to do the job without hurting your tongue (a plastic one can work well). Stick your tongue out (yes, this is one of those cases in which is it appropriate to do so) and place the tongue scraper far enough back so that the tongue can easily be cleaned (but obviously not so far that you gag). Pull the tongue scraper gently from the back of the mouth toward the tip of your tongue, removing any toxic waste along the tongue as you go. Rinse and repeat, until the tongue cleaner comes out squeaky clean. It’s as simple as that, it’s just a few seconds’ work, but this process is designed to keep your breath fresh and your body and spirits high.
Step four of our morning routine is to make sure to drink some water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. How do we do this? Fill a glass with fresh water, ideally filtered or from a natural source, then add a pinch of salt. We recommend a good quality sea salt or Himalayan rock salt (you can buy both from our store, here). “Why salt?” you might ask. Because salt, which has been used medicinally for thousands of years, is a great germ-killer and also neutralizes acid from the lemon. And the taste? Well, it may take some getting used to, if you are a fan of lemonade with sugar, but once your taste buds accommodate to the new sensation, it’s really quite refreshing. The next step is to squeeze some juice from a ripe lemon and add it to the mix. The juice will stimulate digestion and flush out toxins, it is high in Vitamin C, helps regulate blood sugar, is good for skin health, promotes weight loss and can help fight cancer. And if that impressive list isn’t enough, lemon juice can also help remove kidney stones and fight heart disease, as it is high in fiber and contains naturally occurring flavonoids such as diosmin and hesperidin, plant compounds known to lower inflammation and strengthen blood vessel function critical for excellent cardiovascular health.
To get the most out of this powerful aid to digestion, it is important to drink while sitting. In modern life, we often forget the benefits of slowing down to eat or drink; people will consume their meals on the run, walk to work carrying (and sipping) their morning coffee and even eat while in the middle of their morning hike. But body posture while ingesting both food and drink is very important to digestive function. If we drink while standing, it actually triggers the “fight or flight” reaction and we cannot absorb the nutrients in our drinks as easily as when relaxed. Additionally, the water goes through the system more quickly and may not reach the targeted organs, thus losing the opportunity to fully hydrate the body. And, if it travels through the digestive system more quickly, important nutrients may bypass the liver and even some parts of the digestive tract, so the ability to absorb and detoxify is also limited. All of this suggests it is important to take the time to sit down and relax. Sip the water slowly, rather than in one or two gulps. It’s better to take 10 or even 15 minutes to drink a tall glass of lemon water than to gulp it down in one quick go. By slowing down, the body will be fully hydrated and the nervous system will relax, allowing deep cleansing, absorption of minerals and proper detoxification to take place.
Now of course it is not easy for everyone to get out-of-doors in the morning; those in high-rise buildings know this well. But if you live anywhere near easy access to fresh air, get outside!! Spend 10 or 15 minutes to take in the air, walking briskly and even expose your belly to the air: This helps with body temperature regulation and improves immune health and vitality. Fresh air is known to increase our energy levels and mood, to lower stress and anxiety, to help us feel more alert and attentive and to boost our mood. It also improves digestion and if the air around us is clean, it helps clear and strengthen our lungs. So, take the time you need to be outside, breathe deeply and connect with the world around you. You will feel much better for it and you can carry that energy of renewal and vigour with you throughout the day.
These five tips should help to start your day off right and bring you much-needed clarity and happiness throughout your day.