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The Importance of a Morning Routine

For most of us, time and tiredness are the biggest barriers to training or practicing the things we’re interested in. From the moment we wake, we’re in work mode, we’re looking after the kids, we’re getting everything ready for the day ahead. It feels like there just isn’t enough time in the day. It’s like we’re running from one thing to the next without break. So, when we do get home after work, early or late, we’re too exhausted to do anything other than eat dinner and collapse on the sofa in front of the TV. 

For a long time, I wanted to get to the point where I was practicing every day and for a long time I failed. Looking back, I think it was because I’d put my day ahead of my studies. I’d have my day laid out before me and I’d try to create some time when I could practice later. As we can all attest to, the later we leave it, the less likely we are to do it. Even classes that we have paid for in advance can be a chore to go to, even though in the bigger picture we really want to do it, we’re just tired and lacking in motivation.  

The odds are stacked against us, so we need a way to change the odds so that they are in our favor. For me I found the best way to do this was by changing a few things.  

First, I decided that I was going to get up earlier. I thought I’d start by waking at 5am or 5:30am. It seems to have settled on the latter now, sometimes closer to 6am, if I get to bed a little later. To ensure that I get a long enough sleep I also decided that I would go to bed at around 9pm and try to be asleep by 9:30pm to 10pm.  

My wife and I try to ensure that all TV and phone usage is finished by 9pm (that doesn’t always happen) and that when we get to bed, we read books for a short while. Maybe 10 to 15 minutes. This really helps to calm and quite the mind and get me more tired in preparation for sleep. I will say that I don’t read any books that stimulate me. Nothing about Kung Fu because it just gets me excited and nothing too scary like Steven Kings ‘The Shinning’ because that just scared the crap out of me and woke me up! Both are fine for me at any other time in the day but not before sleep. My excellent wife also brought some ‘Blue Light’ book clips that attach to your book while you read and means there's no hard light waking you up. These are great. 

In the morning when I wake up, I get dressed, go downstairs, make coffee (of course) and then start training. If its winter, I train indoors but as soon as the weather changes, normally around early spring, I start training outside. This is important. There are a lot of studies showing the benefit of sunlight to sleeping patterns and vitamin D. So, get your sunlight when you wake.  

With regards to training, I have what I call the ‘Buy in’. These are the few things that I must do every day, regardless. For me its 9 Circles Qi Gong, Santishr, Nei Gong and Yi Jin Jing. It sounds like quite a bit but if I’m pushed, it can be done in 30 minutes. Other days, when I have more time, I’ll do a full session that can last a couple of hours, but whatever happens, I make sure that I get at least the ‘Buy in’ done.  I will say that you definitely don’t have to start with that much time. It’s more realistic to start with 10 minutes a day and to just do something that you enjoy and makes you feel good. The 9 Circles is perfect for this, it's easy to do and has a strong effect on the body, Wuji standing is another. There are few things that have seen have such a profound effect on the people I teach, than this practice. Correct standing, changes lives. 

It can take a while to get into the habit of a morning routine but stay focused and remember you’re do this for you. You’re doing it because you want your life to get better, your health to improve and your skill in what every it is you’re perusing to increase. Over a short time, if you stick at it, you’ll find that 10 minutes turns into 15 minutes some days and maybe half an hour or more on others. Then things really start to change. 

I wish I could take all of the credit for my morning routine journey, but it was watching my wife get up early to train in the gym in preparation for her Spartan and DEKA races, that inspired me. For me it was seeing her achieve goals and make positive changes to her life that got my morning routine going. So, a shout out to Nikki! 

I talk about this a lot with the people I teach and often feel like I’m preaching but I just want everyone to be happy and healthy and take a positive step towards achieving the things they love the most and a morning routine is a powerful step towards doing this. 


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