Award-winning actress Alysia Reiner is best known for her role as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa, the tough warden you can’t help but love on the Netflix hit series, “Orange Is the New Black.” When she is not acting, Reiner focuses her attention on advocating for women’s rights and climate change — she’s an original member of TIME’S UP, an ambassador for GDIM, and has an eco-fashion initiative, Livari. Her schedule is always jam-packed, so she prioritizes her morning to gear up for the pace of the day. “I actually try to start the day with five things I am grateful for as soon as I open my eyes. Including the fact that I opened my eyes,” she explains.

Here, Reiner takes Thrive through her inspiring morning routine — offering ways we can all set our intentions for a more productive and happier day. 

Thrive Global: What does your morning routine typically look like?

Alysia Reiner: Most mornings, I try to skip email as long as possible. If I wake up early enough, I go into my meditation area, do a little yoga, a quick visualization meditation, read a few meditation books/prayers, and pick a goddess card. All this is to set the intention of the day — how may I serve?  All together, it takes five to 10 minutes. If it’s a super early morning and there’s no time for meditation, I just try to connect with my husband and daughter and puppy — which is a kind of meditation in itself — and to be fully present with gratitude for their presence and love. 

I don’t wash my face in the morning, but I do put on a little face oil and vitamin C serum — I’m currently all about Drunk Elephant’s Marula & C-Firma.  

I’m not a big morning eater. I’ll have a protein shake later in the morning after my workout, so when I wake up, I just have water with lemon and a splash of cider vinegar, a probiotic, and some supplements, and a couple of bites of fruit (for blood sugar control) and then… I LOVE MY COFFEE! 

After I drop Liv at school, I head to the gym pretty much every day — it’s my sanity. I’m a morning workout girl. If I have a ton of lines to learn, I’ll do that on the Precor, but really I love classes. Angela at Soul Cycle in L.A. is like intense exercise and church all in one room, it’s incredible. I’m all about RUMBLE, Soul Cycle, and I always love trying something new. 

TG: What helps you thrive throughout the day? 

AR: I think a big part of it is the stories and language we tell ourselves. Not the story of “These are the things I HAVE to do today,” it’s “These are the things I GET to do today!” Even if it’s something annoying like spending hours at the DMV, I try to remember that there are people who really wish they could get a drivers license; it’s a dream to them.

TG:  What happens if you get thrown off your routine?

AR: Podcasts are my savior when I get thrown off during the morning, or any time during the day. A few that always realign me are the Let’s Play: The Create Podcast or Super Soul Sunday podcast. They put my head back in a good space.

TG: How do you incorporate what is important to you when you have a busier day and/or are traveling and away from home?

AR: I try to always wake up early enough to have at least five minutes to check in with my spirit, get grateful, and set my intention. If I’m away from home, then I bring my journal, a candle, a picture of Liv and David, and a little crystal — tokens to remind me what’s important.

TG: What is a mantra or quote that gives your inspiration?

AR: My Dad’s mantra was “Make a difference, have fun.” And recently, when I wake up and feel like everything is on fire, there’s so much injustice on the planet, I try to remember the mantra of my chorus (The Resistance Revival Chorus) which is, “Joy is an act of resistance.” Find the joy. Find the love. Find how to serve. Worrying, complaining, and overthinking will not solve anything. My new favorite quote about this is: If I wasn’t thinking about this, would it still be a problem? Be the solution, not the problem.

TG:  How do you handle waking up stressed? How do you get back on track? 

AR: Exercise is the best for me for stress — a good hard sweat and especially punching things, lifting weights, etc. helps get me out of my head. Other tools are a gratitude list, writing down the stressors and then crossing them out or burning them and writing affirmations instead, meditation, yoga, Kundalini breathing, prayer, exercise, podcasts, and calling a girlfriend. I pick up one or many of these tools. I try not to isolate. I try not to buy into the story — the lie of the stress. It’s like that expression, “FEAR is: False Evidence Appearing Real.” And sometimes I have to work not to believe those fear lies. 

TG: Is there a difference in your morning routine when you are busy, on a work day, weekend?

AR: On weekends, we try to slow down and sleep in more, and it’s so nice. We all snuggle and read together in one big pile on our bed — me, David, Liv, and Enzo, curling up with coffee and a good book or the New York Times. We all love reading with the sunlight streaming in, or even hearing the rain pouring down. Then we love to cook together! Liv and I love to bake and make up new recipes for muffins. Then I go to the gym, and she goes to her Martial Arts class. I guess we both go punch things.  


  • Lindsey Benoit O'Connell

    Deputy Editor, Entertainment + Partnerships at Thrive

    Lindsey Benoit O'Connell is Thrive's Deputy Editor, Entertainment + Partnerships. Prior to working at Thrive, she was the Entertainment + Special Projects Director for Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Woman's Day booking the talent for covers and inside features. O'Connell currently lives in Astoria, NY with her husband Brian and adorable son, Hunter Fitz.