YogaToday instructor Nikki Beck is a big fan of a morning Pilates, yoga and breath work routine, so much so that she created the Rise & Shine Pilates series to help you embrace the AM, too. This week, we sit down with Nikki to explore the reasons why a short daily practice is such a beneficial addition to your morning routine.
YogaToday: Why did you create the Rise & Shine Morning Pilates series?
Nikki Beck: I am a big believer in starting your day in a positive light to set yourself up for success, and if that day decides it has other plans, at least you were able to move with your breath and find some freedom in the body. In my mind that’s a good day.
YogaToday: How should the Rise and Shine Pilates series be practiced?
Nikki: The series was designed with one class per day for 6 days starting with Monday; Sundays are meant for rest and relaxation. Monday kicks off the week with a Pilates class to build strength and confidence to set the foundation for the rest of the week. The series flows with the ups and downs we find ourself in, moving from challenging Pilates exercises to flowing yoga postures and ending with a playful foam roller class on Saturday. My hope is that the series will provide you with a sense of accomplishment each week, help you let go of the busy world around you and find gratitude in your practice. You not only deserve that, but you have earned it time and time again. We can’t take care of those we love if we haven’t taken care of yourself.
YogaToday: What does your own morning Pilates practice look like?
Nikki: If we are being open here, I have never had a stable schedule or worked a typical M-F 40 hour week. I spend my days teaching in person and on camera classes, building an online aerial movement company, and designing websites for corporate companies and small businesses, so when my work is demanding I work and then I fill in the gaps with Nikki time. I may not recommend this schedule, but it fits my personality pretty well. However, I cherish my morning routine. It’s the only part of my day that I can manage to keep consistent and it’s so important to my mental and emotional well being. I start my day with a 15-20 minute guided meditation. I have a few favorites that I like to mix up to keep my mind focused. Then I do a gratitude practice and for me that’s taking 5 minutes quietly to myself to think about all of the things I am grateful for in my life – those that make me smile and those that challenge me to become a better person. Then I write in my journal 3 of those things, and they have to be different every day. If I’m having a rough week, I will take time to write in my journal for my morning pages or what I like to call my brain dump. If someone were to read my journal they would be highly confused. It’s not supposed to be eloquent or turned into a Hallmark movie, it’s just a tool to clear my mind and organize my thoughts. I let my journal keep track of my consciousness so I can better connect to my subconsciousness where my guidance system lives to allow the magic to happen. Then I seal in my practice by silently repeating my intentions 3 times. After, I spend 20-30 minutes on my mat and then take my golden retriever Riley for a walk and begin my day.
YogaToday: What is your best advice for setting up a healthy morning routine?
Nikki: My advice for creating a healthy morning routine is this:
- Do not be hard on yourself or judgmental about what you think your practice should look like everyday. I find this tends to discourage us and fizzles out our routine before a routine is even created.
- Keep with it, especially on the days you don’t want to and would rather sleep in. These are the days you need it most. I love sleep, but I find that spending 30 minutes with my morning practice energizes me way more than 30 minutes of extra sleep.
- Allow your practice to grow and change with you. Start small, maybe just 5 minutes each morning to breathe and practice gratitude and then slowly build on. This is all about the journey, not the end state of completing a task on your to do list. We learn the most from the small moments in between, not from the final prize.
- There is no competition for meditating, and if there is and I don’t know about it….and I’m at a loss for words – NO. There are many days when the guided practice is telling me to do one thing and my brain is on the project I need to complete that day. That’s ok, acknowledge that thought, try not to attach to it, and let it pass by. I promise you will not get a failing grade at meditating. The simple act of finding stillness in our awake state is challenging enough.
- Remind yourself you are enough, you do more than enough, and this time for you allows you to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
YogaToday: Your new series includes some elements of yoga, too. What are the benefits of practicing yoga and Pilates together?
Nikki: I receive so many different benefits from both my Pilates and Yoga practice every time I get on my mat. Pilates helps build heat and fire within. I feel strong and determined, like I can go out and accomplish anything. Yoga brings stillness to my mind and a sense of letting go, allowing me to flow throughout my day. I can’t have one without the other.
YogaToday: Favorite yoga pose? Pilates exercise?
Nikki: Yoga Pose – Dancer and pigeon. Pilates – Core work, all of it.
Morning Pilates Series
Want to create your own morning Pilates practice with Nikki Beck? Check out the Rise & Sine series on YogaToday. The first two classes are free to try!