My Morning Routine: Jasmine Hemsley

Jasmine Hemsley shares her Ayurveda-inspired morning routine to help her start the day in a happier and calmer way.  I wasn’t always a morning person! But over the years, and with the help of Ayurveda, I’ve created a daily routine — known as a Dinacharya — to help support me in this busy world. How you wake up and face the day can really set the tone for what’s to come, so I work in a series of small rituals that help me get in the right headspace for the day ahead. While my schedule often gets thrown around with travel and filming, I have this structure to work from and revert back to if all good intentions go out the window and, just like brushing your teeth and having a shower, all of these healthy habits repay your time and effort tenfold. Of course one of the most important factors for having a good morning is getting a good night’s rest… but that’s a whole other article (coming soon!). I usually wake around 6:30 a.m. depending on the season — in the height of summer this might be 5:30 a.m. (even though I wear an eye mask) and in the winter more like 7am. These changes reflect our natural body clock, which corresponds to the circadian rhythm of the Earth (also recognised by western science), allowing our bodies to gently rise with the sun and harness the natural energy of the day. Think of the cockerel crowing at sunrise — as the Earth “wakes up.” On the contrary, modern society encourages us to eat dinner and stay up late watching TV or on our devices, so the idea of doing everything earlier is totally perplexing to many of us. I’m predominantly a Vata type, but in Ayurveda, Pitta and Kapha types can benefit from waking up even earlier for better energy and creativity (sorry!). Try the Dosha test on to find out what this means. By leaving myself plenty of time to wake up before I need to leave the house I end up waking when I’m ready, rather than suffering a blaring alarm to jolt me awake — this has made a massive difference to my mood. The first thing I do (literally — and definitely before drinking, chatting or even snogging!) is scrape my tongue with my East by West Tongue Tingler. This may sound odd if you’ve never heard of the practice, but it’s a habit I started 10 years ago, which goes hand in hand with brushing my teeth, just as it does for some of my friends of Indian heritage who learnt to do it as kids. Essentially, you clean your tongue with a U-shaped copper tool to remove the buildup that occurs in your mouth overnight as part of the body’s natural detoxification process — it takes just seconds. Cleaning your tongue in this way (n.b. brushing your tongue with your toothbrush just spreads it all around) every day helps to prevent bad breath and infections, enhances your sense of taste and helps to promote a healthy digestion — a healthy mouth is good for a healthy gut. Peeking at your tongue every morning is also a great way to check in with your health: a healthy tongue is smooth and pink — if it’s looking any other way then time to consider a bit more TLC.  
Next up: oil pulling. I’ve met many people who’ve heard of this, or started this Ayurvedic habit but complained it takes too much time. I’ve managed to make it work by doing it while I’m in the shower, making my bed and sticking the kettle on. Think of it like an Ayurvedic mouthwash: you swish pure coconut oil or cold-pressed sesame oil through your teeth and around your mouth to help draw out the toxins and break down plaque. It effectively helps to nourish the gums, clean the rest of your mouth (it’s not just teeth in there, you know) and clear out excess mucus. I also believe that it’s much better for your health than extreme-tasting mouthwashes that make you associate a burning tongue with a clean one, and kills off all the beneficial microflora in your mouth. Oil pulling also works the face muscles, so just like with any workout the whole thing takes some getting used to for you. Start by doing 5 minutes and slowly building up to 15 or 20. Be sure to spit it out in the loo rather than down the drain to avoid clogging the pipes…! Post-shower, I seal the moisture into my skin with a light layer of body oil. Leaving my skin a bit damp before applying oil means I only use a small amount, which absorbs quickly without having to wait a while to get dressed. In summer, I like to use pure jojoba or coconut and in winter, when my skin is drier, I use a thicker oil like sesame or argan. If I’ve been travelling or I’m feeling under the weather or it’s been a Vata-aggravating kind of week then I’ll do an Abhyanga, a hot oil massage pre shower. This is also a lovely treat for the weekend and cheaper than a trip to the spa..! Before I finish getting ready I’ll have already started hydrating with sips of hot water or herbal tea — I have several trusty recipes in East by West, or I’ll go for one of my favourites from Pukka or Yogi Tea. I fill up an insulated flask at the perfect drinking temperature and either take that with me to work or carry on drinking from it from home to save flicking the switch on the kettle more often than need be. Hot water is great for flushing through Ama, the Ayurvedic understanding of toxins, whilst also supporting  your “Agni,” your digestion or the fire in your belly that helps fuel you: cold water is not what the stomach wants to be dealing with — especially first thing in the morning.  After that I’ll slot in at least 5 minutes of yoga to stretch it all out and strengthen the body. If I have a little extra time I’ll keep going for a while longer — I’ve been a fan of Tara Stiles’ yoga videos for years. Ranging from 5 to 11 minutes, these “quickies” have been an essential part of helping me stick with yoga and have countered the bad back situation that comes from sitting or standing for long periods of time. I start with one short video, but if I’m really feeling it I’ll press play on the next one, too. Then I do 20-30 minutes of meditation (this time of day is the best for me to get it done otherwise all manner of excuses come creeping in) including some Pranayama breathwork at home, or if I know I’ve got an uninterrupted commute by public transport I’ll save it for that. In the summer, waking with that extra hour gives me a chance to get into some nature, which I find is definitely the antidote to a life in front of a laptop or always on the go. Now that I’ve got a garden I can potter around with my dogs outside for a bit or walk them to the local park. On warmer days I’ll go out onto the deck or grass barefoot, and even take my morning meditation outside.  

Breakfast is an easy affair as I have my main meal at lunch: I love something fresh and warming — an Ayurvedic tip that works for waking up a sleepy or sluggish digestion. Some go-tos are 5-minute lightly poached and spiced stewed spiced apples or a hot mug of Golden Milk when I need something light, or 5-minute eggs with bread or toast when I want something heartier. Otherwise my slow cooker does it all for me with an overnight kitchari, sweet or savoury congee or porridge. On the weekends I love pancakes every which way. I often make them with fermented batters inspired by Ayurvedic recipes, which gives you a great whole food protein-rich breakfast. Coffee doesn’t really agree with me, so unless I’m in my café, Hemsley + Hemsley in Selfridges, or anywhere where I can order a CO2 or water-decaffeinated decaf then I’ll stick to a herbal tea, Golden Milk, rooibos or maybe a homemade chai, and enjoy a meal eaten in relative calm before the craziness of the day kicks in.

The old me used to fly out of bed with the alarm (I do sometimes revert to the old me, I can’t lie!) or rather drag myself out with gusto, grab some toast or something in a panic and then rush around like a headless chicken for the rest of the day, getting loads of stuff done and feeling like “I’ve got this” but in reality ending up wired, anxious and stressed, and having trouble falling asleep no matter how tired I was. Carving out time and space in the morning for a quiet breakfast and some meditation (as really these are the only additions to my old routine in terms of time) just makes me feel happier, calmer, more efficient and has a positive knock-on effect for the rest of my day, week, year. It also means I’m better at handling the rough along with the smooth. Creatively I’m on fire in the mornings. It is the perfect time not only to get things done, but also to have the chance to be me, and complete a routine that keeps me sane before the phone, emails and messages kick in and I get lost in chores and work commitments. I’ve coached parents to do the same — getting up earlier than their kids, even if it’s 15 minutes, is their time to breathe, take care of themselves and collect their thoughts for the day before they have to put on their parent hat, and their work hat too.


Looking for more morning routine inspiration before you decide on your own? Read Max La Manna’s here and Venetia Falconer’s here

Read more about Jasmine’s journey into sustainability in her Life As I Know it interview

Want to try Kitchari? Find Jasmine’s recipe here.