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Rise and shine: 5 ways to wake up feeling fresh every morning

Last updated on: May 08, 2014 21:39 IST

Rise and shine: 5 ways to wake up feeling fresh every morning

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Shameem Akthar

Simple tips to become a morning person. 

Fatigue and lethargy are common conditions, but they are not taken seriously.

We hope that as the day advances, we will perk up. Or we down cuploads of coffee, hoping the caffeine will kick in.

But the dullness is more than just “something in the mind”. It is often the result of an out of kilter metabolism, a broad word that covers the functioning of other major systems in the body as well.

It may have a psychological trigger – dislike of one’s job, a new responsibility (like a baby or a spouse), lack of supportive help at home, a challenging or even long commute.

While the dullness could be a symptom of any of these, it could in turn trigger seemingly unrelated chronic problems such as migraine, insomnia, food cravings, constipation, caffeine or tobacco addiction (in a bid to feel some energy), nausea, joint pains or weakened immunity.

The last named creates the ideal conditions for more sickness.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained by the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, shows you how to break this vicious cycle and rise and shine every morning.

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Photographs: Harald Hoyer/ Creative Commons

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Yoga stretches

Yoga stretches can magically squeeze and wring out tiredness.

The yastikasana (stick pose) can be done even when in bed.

Pass arms overhead, bringing palms together. Bring feet together. Inhale. As you exhale, stretch from both sides as if somebody is dragging you by hands and feet, in opposite directions.

This helps release dullness from the entire body.

A similar stretch, done standing, is the tadasana (also called ‘mountain pose’ or the ‘palmtree pose’).

Do a full body stretch as explained above, but on your toes.

The stretches used in the morning are marjariasana (cat stretch), and druta utkatasana (dynamic squat pose).

These poses also initiate peristalsis, sorting out constipation problems.

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Image: Wring out fatigue with yoga
Photographs: lululemon athletica/Wikimedia Commons
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Acupressure points

Apart from stretching your full body, these yoga poses work by pressing into acupressure points that stimulate the brain.

Try other pressure points directly. Press with your thumb, or any dominant finger, between the eyebrows, at the indent nestled between the eyebrows and where the nostril meets this junction. This is the pressure point that is meant to wake up the mind.

The pressure applied should be firm, consistent and last up to a minute or up to three minutes.

Another “wake-up” pressure point area is the ear lobes. Pulling at them gently but firmly will also wake you up.

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Image: Press acupressure points to stimulate the brain.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/ Rediff.com
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Aroma relief

Research by Japanese companies has found that certain aroma oils can enhance work performance.

It’s an amazingly simple trick to wake you up. Sprinkle a citrusy aroma oil on a handkerchief, on in a diffuser, or as a dab (when the oil is mixed with carrier oils like sunflower, coconut etc) on the skin, for an immediate high.

Citrus oils are phototoxic, which means you cannot apply them on the skin and go out immediately (it reacts with sunlight). So, use discreetly.

These oils also help fight depression. Some oils should not be used on infants, the very weak, pregnant women, or those with epilepsy.

Safer oils are the aphrodisiacs -- ylang ylang, geranium, jasmine, rose, and sandalwood – which give an immediate high without dangerous side-effects.

They perk up the mood, yet initiate calmness - an ideal combination for the start of a hard day.

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Image: Certain aroma oils can enhance work performance
Photographs: Wikimedia Creative Commons
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Mudra for aid

There are a few mudras (hand gestures) that work the air and ether elements more dominantly, according to yoga.

The use of labels like air or ether elements is just to indicate the aspects of the nervous system that get dominant and are not psychic as many rationalists believe.

The hands play a dominant role in the brain map, and mudras exploit that.

Touching the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb (vayu mudra), the tip of the middle finger to the tip of the thumb (akash mudra) or the tip of the middle finger and the index finger to the tip of the thumb (vayu karaak mudra/ increasing the air element) are all regarded as stimulating to the brain.

However, avoid this when feeling hyper-anxious or hyperactive, for obvious reasons!

Also read: 5 mudras to help you deal with joint pain

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Image: The hands play a dominant role in the brain map, and mudras exploit that.
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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Plan something to look forward to

Do not stack up the next day’s planner with things you “have to do”.

When people are scrunched for time or feel crowded or overworked, they do the wrong thing and stack up the next day with things that must be done.

Not only will the pending work remain unfinished, but the new tasks will also be neglected, making you feel even more distracted, upset, low or give you the sense of lack of control.

Instead, plan a few fun things – sit in front of your aquarium with your morning cup; listen to a new CD or a new radio channel; take a new route on your morning walk; invite a friend to exercise along with you…

The things you plan should add to the fun and joy of the day and should definitely not be a task or a chore!

Sub-consciously this makes you look forward to waking up and removes the sense of lethargy at a very subliminal level.


Image: Make your task list more fun
Photographs: Lucy Pemoni/Reuters
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