We’re all guilty of it.

The alarm goes off and after hitting snooze a few (dozen) times, the first thing we do is start scanning through Facebook on our phones. Then it’s rushing around the house, chugging coffee, checking email…

All before we’ve taken the chance to just breathe.

I know firsthand just how difficult it is to fall down the “busyness” trap first thing in the morning. But the truth of the matter is, how we start our day has a powerful impact on our mood, energy and productivity.

Rather than letting that email from your boss be the way you greet the morning sun, try a few of these morning practices for a more positive and mindful day:

1. Don’t check email or social media for at least one hour after you wake up

For a society where our smart phone is basically an extension of our very being, it can be extremely difficult to resist the urge to check email or social media first thing in the morning.

After all, many people use their phone as their alarm — making it the first thing we touch in the morning and the last thing we put down at night.

As such, it’s only natural to want to scroll through new notifications as soon as our head leaves the pillow. But it is possible to resist the temptation.

Start by committing to a few days where you will not look at your phone for at least an hour after waking up. Notice how it impacts your day.

I suddenly become much more aware of the birds chirping in the trees outside; the ray of light as it shines on the hardwood floor; and the fresh smell of the morning air.

You might just be surprised how this small act of mindfulness carries with you throughout the rest of your day.

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2. Set Your Daily Intention

There are multiple ways to set an intention for the rest of your day.

For some of you, it might be repeating a mantra before you begin meditation. For others, it might be in the form of a morning journal.

Personally, I head out to my porch with a cup of coffee to listen to the sounds of nature and get clear on a specific item I want to accomplish throughout the day.

Often this is more of a characteristic than a task, such as patience or gratitude.

However you prefer to do it, get still and get focused on what one thing you would like to accomplish that day. Then write it down and keep that intention with you.

I find my daily intention puts me in charge of my day, effectively making me less reactive to what happens around me.

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3. Move

Get breath and energy moving through your body however it feels right for you. Some people say hardcore exercise is the way to go. I know that doesn’t work for my body first thing in the morning (even when training for marathons).

Instead, I prefer to start the day with a few gentle sun salutations. But no matter how you choose to move your body, take the time to do something.

Incorporating movement into our morning routine is not only beneficial for our physical health, but it can also have profound impacts on our mental and emotional well being throughout the rest of the day as well.

This is especially true for a society where we sit for the vast majority of our day.

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4. Cultivate Gratitude

There’s always something to be grateful for, even if we have to dig under the surface to find it.

Before you get swept away in your to-do list, take time to make a mental or physical list of all the things you are grateful for. If you’re feeling especially stuck, try this yoga practice to cultivate gratitude.

Choosing gratitude will make you happier, so why not influence the rest of your day by trying this routine first thing in the morning?

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5. Start Small

One of the many reasons why so many of us do not have morning mindfulness practices is because we beat ourselves up when we don’t follow things exactly as planned.

If you slip and find yourself checking Facebook before you’ve brushed your teeth — don’t worry. Observe the habit, then get back into your morning routine.

Likewise, if you know you are not a morning person, then don’t try to wake up at 5:00 am to fit three hours of yoga, meditation, and journaling into your day.

Instead, try waking up ten minutes early so you have time to sit down and write out five things you are grateful for. Then the following week, once you’ve mastered that step, work on only hitting snooze one time.

Take baby steps towards an ideal morning that works for you, before the kids are rushing off to school or your email is dinging non-stop.

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In our digital age, it’s not easy to take time to stop being busy and start being mindful of our surroundings. However, by taking the time to cultivate a morning mindfulness practice, you might be surprised just how powerful the mornings can be. Don’t run through life going through the actions. Take the time today to commit to a mindful and meaningful morning that impacts the rest of your day.

Do you have routines or rituals that you practice each morning? How do these impact the rest of your day? Share your experiences in the comments below!

For more Yoga inspiration, check out the blog of Zenward, The School of True Yoga.

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