“A few years ago I did an intensive month of yoga teacher training in the remote jungles of Costa Rica. I’ve since made yoga and meditation an essential part of my morning routine.” – Hayley Leibson Share this quote on Twitter

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Hayley Leibson

What is your morning routine?

I wake up at 6:30am. From bed, I hold my iPhone close to my face because I’m nearsighted, and I check for updates first on Slack, then email, Facebook Messenger, and the weather. I respond to anything urgent right away. I then wash my face, brush my teeth, and put in my contact lenses whilst listening to The Wall Street Journal Tech News Briefing podcast, and NPR on Spotify through my Google Home.

I use all cruelty-free vegan and environmentally friendly makeup and skincare products made by at least one woman founder. I love Tarte Cosmetics for makeup (found at Sephora and online), and I have been a huge supporter of the skincare company Alaffia (found at Whole Foods and online) for 12 years. Alaffia’s product sales help conduct empowerment projects in West Africa, including maternal care, bicycles for education, school supplies, and school construction. My favorite Alaffia product is their handcrafted Fermented Coconut Oil made at their co-op in Togo, West Africa. I use it every day after a shower, and it leaves my skin incredibly soft and smooth. The final step of my skincare routine involves MyChelle’s Sun Shield Tinted Liquid SPF 50 sunscreen. It’s by far the best sunscreen for the face I’ve found to date. It smells good, applies beautifully, and doesn’t leave your skin feeling oily.

After doing my makeup and hair, I make my bed, pack a gym bag, and grab my yoga mat, reusable water bottle, Warby Parker sunglasses, Thistle for lunch, and Guayaki Yerba Mate Raspberry tea, and I walk to CorePower Yoga for either a 7:00 or 7:30am class. Thistle is a plant-based meal subscriptions service. I’ve been subscribing to Thistle’s vegan salads for weekday lunches for the past six months and have noticed my skin has become clearer and I have more energy throughout the day. Before Thistle, I had a really tough time getting enough vegetables in my diet and would spend too much time and money finding lunch during the workday.

After yoga, I shower and change clothes, and pick up MUSH Vanilla Bean overnight oats (also a female founded company) for breakfast. I then listen to a Simple Habit meditation on my walk to work feeling energized, happy, and full of gratitude.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

I’ve stuck with this morning routine since CorePower Yoga opened in San Francisco about nine months ago. Nothing makes me happier than starting my morning with a yoga class.

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How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

I moved to San Francisco from London three years ago. When I was living in London, and for a while when I moved back to San Francisco, I was marathon training, so I would run in the early mornings.

A few years ago I did an intensive month of yoga teacher training in the remote jungles of Costa Rica. I’ve since made yoga and meditation an essential part of my morning routine.

What time do you go to sleep?

I try to go to sleep by 11:00pm. Over the past two years, I’ve found what really helps my sleep quality is to stop using my phone and laptop at least an hour before going to sleep.

I try to read a book for an hour before going to sleep. I used to only read non-fiction, but now I’m incorporating more fiction into my reading list. I love using Goodreads to find new books recommended by friends. I also subscribe to Scribd, a digital library, ebook, and audiobook subscription service with over a million titles. I’m currently reading Educated by Tara Westover for my friend’s book club next week, The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, and Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord.

Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

In addition to putting down my phone and picking up a book an hour before going to sleep, I make sure I have clean yoga clothes and that my gym bag is packed.

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

Yes, multiple! I never ever hit the snooze button, but I have multiple alarms just in case. I love Apple’s Bedtime alarm feature, and use it to make sure I get to bed on time.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

I have breakfast after yoga, and I typically have either overnight oats or I make my favorite spinach smoothie. The spinach smoothie is incredibly easy to make and so delicious. I blend one banana, a small amount of orange juice, two handfuls of spinach, and some ice.

I sometimes drink Bhakti iced sugar-free chai with toasted coconut cashewmilk with breakfast. It’s the best chai I’ve ever had, and it’s made in Boulder, Colorado.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Yes, I try to do CorePower Yoga every morning. I usually take a class for experienced yoga practitioners which “turns stress into sweat” through challenging postures and an energizing playlist. The room is set at 98 degrees (Fahrenheit) and has added humidity. The first few hot yoga classes I took were extremely difficult, but over time, I got used to the heat and I’ve come to really enjoy it.

Sometimes I’ll take a Yoga Sculpt class, which adds free weights to the sequencing and mixes in more strength-training moves like squats, lunges, and bicep curls. Starting this spring, I’ll actually be teaching CorePower Yoga classes on weekend mornings in San Francisco!

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

I do! I love the Simple Habit meditation app and listen to at least one five-minute meditation a day. I love Simple Habit’s “On-the-Go Quick Picks” for morning, commuting, walking, and getting through tough days.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

I check and answer Slack messages first thing in the morning. Then I’ll check email and respond to anything that is really urgent from my phone.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

I love using Apple’s Bedtime feature to track my sleep and make sure I get enough of it. I’m completely useless if I don’t sleep enough. I use Simple Habit in the morning to meditate, and I use an Apple Watch to track my movement and exercise throughout the day.

I track all of my to do’s in Todoist, and I carry a Moleskin notebook and Muji pen with me everywhere.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

Checking my phone for work updates is the first thing I do in the morning, even before putting my contact lenses in.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Responding to anything urgent with work, and making sure I have a healthy start to my day with exercise and nourishing food.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

My first drink in the morning is Guayaki Yerba Mate. I’ve been drinking a bottle of this caffeinated tea every day since high school. It’s pure energy magic in a bottle.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

I change my routine on weekends. I try to sleep in until at least 7:00am, and I’ll then read for an hour or so before going to a yoga class. After yoga, I either go for a walk in San Francisco, or drive out of town for a day of hiking.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

Nutrition wise, I tend to be much less healthy when I travel for work, but I still try to fit in yoga and lots of walking when possible. I really dislike gyms, but I’ll sometimes use a hotel gym when traveling. I definitely prefer to exercise outside whenever possible by either running or hiking.

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

I try not to be too hard on myself if something comes up and makes it impossible to stick with my routine. I’m pretty flexible, and will adapt. If I can’t make yoga in the morning due to an early meeting or call, I’ll go in the evening after work or try to squeeze in an extra yoga class or workout on the weekend when I have more time.

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