When I am in tune with the start of the new day I feel more grounded, connected and whole.
If you haven’t heard, FP Escapes will be headed to Spain this April to explore The Art of Ritual. Mischa Varmuza will be leading our group alongside Maggie Harrsen and, together, will interweave their teachings to create the ultimate exploration into ritual. Taking a brief moment from her travels through Peru and India, Mischa sits down with us today to give a glimpse into her morning routine and a taste of what our FP Escape, powered by YOGASCAPES, will provide.
The early morning is a powerful and sacred time for personal ritual and practice which can carry you through your day and beyond. When I am in tune with the start of the new day I feel more grounded, connected and whole. It allows me to give full attention to both my students and to life as it unfolds, to plan or not to plan! I dedicate this time to my personal sadhana to help to connect me to spirit and keep me healthy and happy.
I have discovered that, ultimately, the strength of my sadhana reflects the steadiness and ease with which I am able to hold myself in daily life. Yoga also serves as the foundation of my teaching and allows me to share authentically from a place of understanding within my own body, heart and mind.
Below is the full morning ritual that I move through when I am rested and in the deepest rhythm of my sadhana. Slowly, these practices are becoming as ingrained as brushing my teeth or taking that first full body stretch on waking. You can create your own short version for those days.
My full morning practice takes around 2 hours, usually between the hours of 6-8 am.
Lemon water. On waking I drink a large glass of room temperature filtered water, often with a drop of lemon essential oil.
Oil pulling. I use organic cold pressed coconut or sesame oil. This is an ancient ayurvedic cleansing technique where you swish oil around your mouth for about 15 minutes to improve oral health. I take the oil and then shower and dress whilst ‘pulling’ before I spit it out.
Journal dreams. You might need to do this as soon as you wake up as they can slip away like sand through your fingers. I write down any key story lines, emotions, figures or themes. This is a whole new world for me…. One I am just beginning to explore.
Shower. I always have a shower before I start my practices as it lifts me out of sleep. I was recently reminded of the benefits of cold showers to start the day and, if I can handle it I will, at least a blast at the end. It is so good for your immune system, though if you are in a cold country do make sure you keep warm afterwards. I use a few drops of an essential oil like peppermint to enliven me.
Meditation. 20 minutes. I take time to create the space, light candles and incense – this is a ritual in itself. At home I have a dedicated area and, when I’m on the move, I create one with my travelling altar and meditation cushion. If I feel I need to clear out energy from the day before I will burn palo santo to cleanse the space or use a sage smudge stick. I use a timer (chakra chime app) — it spares any worry or thinking on that. I am working with a breath and mantra meditation at the moment. I find the combination really enhances my focus.
Mantra. 5 minutes. I have been working with japa meditation for a while. Using mala beads, repeat the chosen or given mantra for 108 repetitions, tracing the beads with your fingers to count.
Chanting. 15 minutes.This is a huge focus for me at the moment. I had a huge block with my voice for many years and overcoming this has been an incredibly heart-opening and liberating experience. Still a work in progress, as it all is, learning to be joyful and surrender to the process is at the heart. I always start with the Ganesh mantra. Ganesh represents crossing the threshold, overcoming obstacles and finding strength through challenge and the Gayatri mantra is the perfect dedication to a new day.
Journal. 10 minutes. Taking time to record the things for which I am grateful and what inspired has really helped to shape my attitude towards life. I also include reflections from my meditation and intentions or an affirmation for the day ahead. I am usually working with a key intention (sankalpa) but there is always work to be done to support it. If this is a new practice I suggest starting with 3 things regarding both your gratitude and inspiration list, along with one intention or affirmation.
Asana practice. This varies from 20 minutes to 2 hours. The former is a good minimum to work with. A lot of the time it is intuitive flow, moving where my body asks me to, slow and curiously. Some days it can be strangely hard to get on the mat but, once I am there, it is moments before I wake up to the beauty of the asana practice. Some days I may incorporate Mysore practice (set series of sequences in the Astanga tradition) either at a studio or on my own. Either way my asana practice is the glue to my sadhana. It was my doorway to where I am now and continues to be the thread which holds me as I navigate my way through life. When life has hindered my practice I feel it in every part of me. I have so much gratitude for this practice!
Green juice or smoothie and breakfast. I love smoothies for breakfast, as I can add all the good stuff to boost my nutrition. My usuals include homemade nut milk, soaked nuts, seeds and oats. I always add a pile of greens — spinach or kale, cucumber, avocado and broccoli.
Photos by Laura Allard-Fleischl