Rituals + Routines For Waking Well & Sleeping Soundly
Welcome to the second instalment of the a new interview series giving you a very special insight into the habits, rituals and routines of some of the most interesting and in-the-know people I can get my hands on. It’s all about gathering inspiration, and using it to experiment with in order to reveal the best version of yourself.
The first few things you do each morning can set the tone for your entire day, so learning a few hints, hacks and practices to set you up well can have a big positive impact on you and everyone around you. Evening routines are just as important, enabling healthy digestion of dinner, sound sleep and therefore a better morning when you wake again!
Settle in a dig out your note pad if you like, because you could learn something that’ll change everything….
Helen Forester | Founder of Chant Malas
“I’m Helen and I’m the Creatrix and Founder of my little business Chant Malas. I have two children; a two year-old son and a nearly-four year-old daughter, and I live with them and my partner. I’m 36 and when I’m not designing and creating mala beads (pop over to www.chantmalas.co.uk if you’d like to see what I do), I love to go running in the South Downs (I live in Hove) or by the sea, taking my children to forest school, reading, writing and practising yoga”.
- It’s a weekday morning – what time do you usually wake up? This varies a lot as I’m at the whim of my two children, who wake up anywhere between 6-7am, sometimes earlier.
- And on weekends? Every day is pretty much the same when it comes to waking times!
- What wakes you up? My children or my alarm.
- Are you a ‘morning person’? Yes, very much so (thankfully!).
- What’s the first thing you generally think about? My children or writing
- What’s the first step of your morning routine? I’ve recently started trying to ‘take back my mornings’ by setting my alarm at a time that is (usually!) too early for my children, at around 5.30am. I have just started Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way course so I’ll generally lie in bed and write my three ‘morning pages’ before the children wake up. I tried practising asana (physical Yoga) but found I was barely getting anything done before someone would appear at the door.
- Do you kickstart your day with coffee? No, I’ve never liked the taste of it.
- Any supplements? B12 and a Turmeric capsule. I take the b12 as it’s the only vitamin the body needs that you can’t get from plant-based sources, and I take the turmeric for its anti inflammatory properties. I feel better when I take it.
- What’s for breakfast? Usually a homemade muesli. This makes it sound like it’d take preparation but it’s just oats, ground flax, pumpkin seeds, a little dried fruit, cinnamon and then a little cacao with coconut milk. I also like to make myself and my children a smoothie. (pink or green, depending on how they feel!).
- What time do you head out of the door? Around 8. I’m self-employed so three times a week I take my children to nursery and then come home to practice asana and then start creating at around 9-9.30. If it’s not a nursery day then I try to get out of the house at some time before 11am to forest school, gymnastics, the beach or wherever else we might fancy going that day.
- Where are you heading to? Three times a week, my little workspace; any other day, it just depends on what I have planned with my children.
- What time do you usually arrive home? On a working day, I go to the post office at around 4.30 [to send my items off to customers] and then pick my children up from nursery.
- What’s for dinner? Something homemade like veggie chilli, curry, bolognese or fajitas.
- What does your evening routine look like? This can vary depending on whether my children (usually my son!) go down easily or if they take a little longer. On a good night, they’ll go to sleep around 7ish and then – if it’s been a non-nursery day – I’ll work through emails, prep a blog post or finish off a piece that needs to be sent. I try to limit myself to just an hour of work after dinner. After that, I might watch a Netflix program like Stranger Things or Greenleaf.
- Who do you spend your evenings with? My partner. He works in London so often doesn’t get back until late.
- What are the last few things you do before going to sleep? Brush my teeth and have a wash (a shower, or bath if it’s a full or new moon), get changed, fill in my Artist’s Way book and read a few pages of whatever book I’m currently reading.
- Do you purposefully do anything to help you sleep well? I really love to put my legs up the wall and practice Nadi Sodhana (alternate nostril breathing) right before I go to sleep to help calm my nervous system and prep my mind for sleep.
- What time is lights out? I try to get to bed before 9 otherwise I’m too tired for the night (my son tends to wake up around four times a night) and to wake up early to do my writing.
- Do you sleep well? Yes! When my son lets me anyway, haha!
- Have you always been this way about your morning and evening routines? I’ve recently become a lot more disciplined and structured about how I approach the beginning and end of my day. I gave up teaching [at a school] in July 2017, which always gave me a forced, somewhat frantic, morning routine as it was just a question of getting everyone up and out of the house. Now I can take my time. As I work for myself I find the more disciplined I am with my morning and evening routines, the more productive, and ultimately more present, I am.
- Do you feel your morning and evening routines benefit you? Yes. As I say, they have helped me use my time effectively. I’ve always been a good time manager but the extra discipline has meant I actually have MORE time for myself, not less.
What one piece of advice would you give regarding morning routines? Get up and out of bed as early as is reasonable for you and do something that will be like a little gift to yourself – writing, movement, breathing – before you have to dedicate your day to others. Even just 10 minutes works!
What one piece of advice would you give regarding evening routines? Put your phone on airplane mode or turn it off at least an hour before you go to bed so you can properly switch off for the evening. Don’t stay up longer than you need to – if you’re tired, go to bed.
Head to www.chantmalas.co.uk for Helen’s beautiful collection of handmade items, altar and meditation pieces, and opportunities to get involved with her Once Upon A Mala project! All readers of the emmanewlynyoga.com blog also get 15% off orders from Chant Malas with the special code EMMAYOGA15