Pic: Blowing Rock Conference Center, with Grandfather Mountain cloaked in morning fog in the background
To wake up in the morning is a true blessing. We are given another day, and shouldn't take it lightly. Most systems of self-nurture recommend a routine for beginning the day. Following is a recommended approach.
1) After waking, rousing your self, and going to the bathroom, wash your face and rinse your eyes with cold water. Put water in your eyes and hold your head to back to allow it to fully rinse. Wash water over your head, getting your hair wet. Brush your hair. Brush your teeth.
2) Drink 2-3 glasses of room temperature or tepid water to re-hydrate.
3) Rinse with sesame seed oil, tea tree oil, or eucalyptus oil. Gently massage your gums with oil using your fingertip.
4) Do a gentle self-massage, especially in the neck/shoulder area, limbs, and the lower back
5) Engage in a gentle stretching routine. We typically get some horizontal disc compression and/or swelling, along with the accompanying tension and stiffness from sleeping. This can vary depending on age, prior injuries, and mattress quality. Seated twists, forward folds, cat-cows, and cobra/upward dog postures all work well for the lower back. Add side bends, arms stretches, etc... depending on other tight/sore places. Basically, stretch as necessary, but do stretch.
6) Engage in you choice self-nurturing routine, Hatha Yoga, Taiji, Pilates, Dao Yin, Qigong, etc... with enough vigor to warm the body and break loose accumulated toxins. Ideally 20 minutes to 1/2 hour including the above stretching is sufficient.
7) Meditate 20--30 minutes minimum. Once or twice a week meditate for 45 mins to an hour.
8) Count your blessings, pray, chant, say your choice affirmations--whatever is your preferred method for expressing gratitude to God/The Universe and to set the tone for the rest of your day.
All-in-all, this should take approx 1 hour or more. I personally vary the self-nurture routine daily. Over a 6 day week I will have done Ashtanga sun salutations, Chen Taiji, Dragon Dao Yin, and Hunyuan Qigong to prepare myself for meditation. It is recommended to take a day off from this part of the routine once a week. Everything else should be done every day without fail--if possible.
This is an excellent way to start your day. Feel free to experiment and add practices from your own tradition or interests. If you don't have enough time in the mornings to dedicate an hour to self-care, you may want to consider varying your life routine to make way for it. It will contribute to a longer, healthier, more awakened life.