Round-the-world morning rituals to light up your soul

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If you’re spending your mornings glued to your exercise bike – stop that madness. It may help you break a sweat but is it really, hand-on-heart, making you happy? 

The fact is, the time between when you wake up and get to work is pretty rare; special, even. It’s this golden point in time when you’ve turned the leaf of a fresh day – but the stress of deadlines and demands have yet to kick in. So, why use it to give yourself extra hassle? 

Below we’ve pulled together some global rituals from Flash Pack’s adventure repertoire to inspire a different kind of morning routine. One that is calmer, easier and altogether more relaxing. Come, friends, and leave your gadgets far behind; the world and its wonders are waiting.

Sunrise tai chi – Vietnam

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Tai chi originated in ancient China, but is also widely used in neighbouring Vietnam; and it’s a wonderfully calming way to start the day. Indeed, groups of elderly men and women doing tai chi by the lake at 6am is a common sight in the capital, Hanoi, and Flashpackers on our Vietnam trip can partake in a sunrise session on a boat in HaLong Bay

As Dr Paul Lam, founder of Australia’s Tai Chi For Health Institute, explains: “Tai chi is a moving meditation in the form of a series of gentle exercises that create harmony between the mind and body.”

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The “father of mindfulness”, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh, drew on the practice to inform a series of “very simple but very deep” exercises in his best-selling book, Mindful Movements. The purpose, he says, is “to bring awareness and enjoyment into our bodies and into the movements we make with our bodies.”

Hike on high – Argentina

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Multiple studies show that a brisk walk in the morning drums up energy for the rest of the day, leaving you feeling revived and focused. And there’s no better muse for this ritual than the mirror-still lakes and glacial peaks of Argentinian Patagonia, where Flashpackers are based for several days of soul-fuelling hikes in the Great Outdoors. 

Granted, you may not have mountains or log cabin hot tubs handy for your morning walk. But you can still live the principle of the idea with a no-phones stroll first thing (preferably up a hill), followed by a blast in a hot shower. World, let’s be having you…

Morning dose of awe – South Africa

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As far as jaw-dropping landscapes go, South Africa punches above its weight. This land of sunshine has everything from epic safari sunrises to views from Table Mountain (a mere 360 million years old) and eerie kelp forests off the Cape Peninsula coast in its armoury. Few starts to the day rival the kind of wow power these gems deliver; Flash Pack’s South Africa trip is basically a thrill-a-minute ride in spectacular sites. 

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You too can grab a slice of small-scale awe – proven by science to make us kinder and more generous – by shunning the To-Do list and heading for an “awe walk” instead. Whether it’s hazy contrails stretching across the pink morning skies, or a footpath overgrown by blooming cowslips, there are so many micro-moments of delights to discover in the natural world. Moments that normally pass us right by.

Temple meditation – Japan

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Koyasan is a sacred UNESCO World Heritage temple kingdom to the south of Osaka in Japan. Here, Flashpackers can join resident monks in morning meditation, surrounded by ancient woodlands and natural hot springs, in a site that dates back to the year 816 AD.

Meditation, as we know, is something of a superpower when it comes to lowering stress and improving concentration; as this blog from the popular app Headspace explains. You can channel some of its calm-giving benefits, if not in the company of monks, than at least first thing, for a soothing bed-to-desk transition. If you want to take the whole concept up a level, try doing a 10-minute meditation exercise outdoors: the Calm app has some great exercises for mindful walks.

Wake-up yoga – Bali

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Yoga finds its roots in Northern India, but the Balinese town of Ubud is also a gorgeous backdrop for this healing mind-and-body practice. On Flash Pack’s adventure to the Island of the Gods, we give it a whirl from a fresh perspective – literally – with anti-gravity yoga. Based in a private studio surrounded by the lush valley tapestry of Bali’s cultural heartland, the spiritual setting alone is a tonic to overloaded minds. 

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Back home, wherever you call that, you can draw from the spiritual vibes of Balinese yoga by composing your own peaceful setting. It could just be a book nook, a garden patio or another quiet area of your home where you can escape the frazzle of daily life for a half hour or so. Then follow a free yoga workout – Yoga With Adriene on YouTube gets top reviews – to access your inner zen (acrobats not required). 

Bake your own bread – Jordan

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If there’s any more delightful wake-up call than the smell of freshly baked bread, we’re yet to find it. And this time-honoured rite becomes all the more enjoyable when you learn to conjure up your own baked goods. After all, in a world of screens and endlessly bleeping phones, it can be therapeutic to take solace in a simple, manual ritual. 

On Flash Pack’s Jordan trip, travellers stay at the award-winning Feynan Ecolodge in the heart of the Dana Biosphere Reserve. Feynan has close ties with the surrounding Bedouin community, and learning to bake earthy “Arbood” bread with a local family is an optional extra that gives a fascinating insight into Bedouin culture. 

For a morning routine back home, baking bread may be best saved for the weekend or else bake overnight, so you can wake up to deliciously moreish aromas filling your home. 

Early bird bathing – Croatia

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A morning swim makes the world go round, and Croatia is brimming with spots that’ll make you love it all the more. On our Flash Pack trip to this sunny corner of Southern Europe, you’ll get to jump through waterfalls (while also rafting), soak in the waves off a private island in the Adriatic, and stay at hotels with some truly beautiful pools. Your inner seal will shoot to the surface in no time…

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Your home region may not have *quite* the same quota of sun-dappled waves to its name. But even if it doesn’t, a morning dip can work wonders on the spirit. Head to your local pool for a lap or 10, or – if you’re feeling especially brave – start researching nearby lakes or rivers (wild swimming is taking off in a serious way now, so it’s not hard to connect with local groups). Time to leap in and go with the flow – your soul will thank you for it.

Find out more about Flash Pack adventures right here

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Images: Flash Pack and Unsplash

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