Eating the right foods, sleeping enough, and keeping well hydrated go a long way towards feeling full of vitality and focus. However, we live in a busy world. Managing the above components is not always easy. Yoga, with its unique synergy of body and breath work, is perfect when your reserves are running low.
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Yoga poses for energy focus on bringing ‘Prana’, life force, back into the body. Effective poses are those that extend the spine allowing energy to circulate throughout the whole body, and poses that open the chest, encouraging the intake of more breath – the ‘Prana’. Certain poses work on other aspects of creating energy. Evoking empowerment, and strength, when you are feeling weak and depleted, revitalizes. Grounding and stabilizing poses balance energy-zapping agitation. Certain conscious breathing techniques ‘Pranayama’ create calm. Others fuel your body with uplifting energy.
Unblock stagnant energy and release blood flow by stretching through the spine and opening the chest. Here’s how:
Mountain Pose Toe Lifts (Tadasana)
With your feet flat on the floor, legs hip distance apart, and arms by your sides, take a deep inhalation and lift your arms up above your head, coming up onto your ties and opening your heart and chest. Exhale and bring your arms and feet slowly back down. Repeat the sweeping, and lifting, and dropping, motion several times.
Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
Kneel on all fours with your knees hip distance apart, your hands under your shoulders and your toes curled to the floor. Exhale and arch your spine upwards, pulling your abdominal muscles in. Move your head downwards. Inhale and keeping your hips in place, drop your weight creating an inverted curve in your spine. Lifting your chest and head. Face forwards. Use one long, flowing motion. Repeat several times.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Lie on your stomach with your legs together, the tops of your feet flat and your toes pointing away from you. Bring your hands to the sides of your shoulders, pressed into the floor. Rest your chin. Face forwards. Exhale, lift your chest from the floor, straightening your arms, creating a deep curve, and stretch, in your spine. Open across the front of the body. Keep your hips down and look ahead. Hold this position. Inhale. Return to a rest position.
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For grounding, stabilizing, and empowering use the following poses:
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Stand with your legs wide apart in a triangle. Turn your right foot 90 degrees and your left foot angled slightly towards you to create balance. Face towards your right foot. Try not to tilt, or twist, the hips. Raise your arms so that they are vertical to the floor. Look towards your right and bend the right leg so your thigh is horizontal to the floor. Feel the strength through your thighs and core muscles. Hold. Repeat the position on the other side.
Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
Balancing positions ground and calm your mind, increasing clarity. Stand, feet hip distance apart. Splay your toes so that your weight is evenly distributed. Lengthen your spine and face forwards. Exhale, lift your right leg and rest the instep of your foot on your upper thigh, creating a triangle. If too difficult, place on your lower leg, (though not at the knee joint). Focus in front of you. Take slow breaths to enhance stability. Bring your hand into a prayer position in front of your heart. Exhale, raise your hands and create a triangle above your head, crossing your thumbs. Reverse the motions to release. Repeat on the other side of your body.
Conscious breathing practices can be done anywhere so lock yourself in the bathroom if you need a quick revival session!
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Right Nostril Breathing (Surya Bhedana)
The left nostril brings calming (sleep-inducing) energy. The right nostril is associated with the energy of the sun and, hence, is uplifting and revitalizing. Sit up straight. Cover your left nostril with your thumb and splay out your fingers. Rest your other hand in your lap. Inhale for four seconds. Exhale for 6 seconds. Use only the right nostril. Repeat several times.
Breath of Fire (Bhastrika)
Breath of Fire is a Kundalini practice. As with any yoga, you breathe in Prana, refreshing the life force in your body, and breathe out Apana, depleted energy you want to eliminate. The difference with Breath of Fire is the absence of a pause in breathing, and the pace of breath. Inhalations and exhalations must be equal length. This breathing technique pumps life force in and out of your body. Breath of Fire means ‘breathing like a bellow’. You get the picture? Take slow breaths, or work with very rapid, energizing breaths. Kundalini Yoga can be noisy! Breath of Fire very quickly oxygenates blood and works to detoxify the liver. Starting slowly is a good idea for beginners as you can become dizzy.