In a recent questionnaire to our Zenward customers, many of them asked us how to improve their energy.
Yoga and its sister science of Ayurveda have answers, teaching us how to take care of our bodies and minds to bring back our vigor. Follow these three practices to help you get your energy back.
1. Ask Yourself: Is my yoga practice giving me energy or taking it away?
One would assume that a daily yoga practice is a granter of energy. But this isn’t necessarily the case.
I learned this through personal experience. There was a stretch where I had a hardcore daily power yoga practice. And at the same time, my energy dipped wearyingly low. I didn’t make a connection between the two until I studied Ayurveda.
I was actually burning myself out with my yoga practice. I left each and every flow drenched in sweat, exhausted, but too high on yoga to think this was a bad thing. When I learned through Ayurveda that too much exercise can be just as bad as none, I scaled back.
Ayurveda recommends stopping exercise when you have to breathe through your mouth and start to sweat.
This was a hard shift to make. In the U.S. we carry the idea that unless we have a good sweat and finish feeling worn out, we haven’t had a good workout. But low and behold, once I switched to a less aggressive yoga style, I had more energy.
If you’re feeling generally drained, step back from your yoga practice and assess what it’s doing for you.
Does it give you energy? Do you come out of savasana feeling refreshed? If not, reevaluate the type of yoga you’re practicing and its intensity. Cut out a bit of the power and add in a little more yin.
2. Sync Yourself With The Sun
We all know that a good night’s sleep is key to feeling energetic. But it’s not just
But it’s not just how much you sleep as when you sleep. This is a teaching of Ayurveda, logically explained by nature’s energies.
Each of the three doshas, or vital forces, exert their influence on nature and our bodies at various times of the day. If you’re unfamiliar with the doshas this might sound a little esoteric. Nonetheless, this philosophy will make sense to you based on life experience.
How do you feel when you wake up at 8 or 9 am?
Probably a little groggy and like you want to stay in bed longer… maybe even more tired than when you went to sleep.
I personally feel like there’s an elephant sitting on me — a strong downward force that glues me to the bed. This heaviness comes from the Kapha Dosha: a slow, sluggish energy that’s dominant from about 6 to 10 am. We’re under the influence of Kapha effects during these hours, so waking up at this time is a slow, sluggish challenge.
On the other hand, if we wake up before Kapha is in full effect and while the Vata Dosha is still dominant — a light, mobile, active force — it’s easy to get out of bed and moving. Rising between 5 and 6am is the best way to take advantage of Vata time. It helps us to wake up feeling energetic and with a pep in our step.
If we wake up early, it means we should go to bed early, too.
We still need a solid 7 or 8 hours of sleep to feel refreshed. Ayurveda advises a 10 pm bedtime to take advantage of the sleepy force that nature exerts upon us at night.
3. Wake Up With An Energetic Breath
The right breathwork can give as much of a jolt as a cup of coffee. The breath is a source of Prana or life force.
When we’re filled with prana we feel vibrant and enthused.
Bhastrika pranayama (bellow’s breath) or kapalabhati pranayama (shining skull breath) are wonderful practices to invite in fresh prana. I do a few rounds of one of these breaths to help me wake up in the morning. They really do give a natural buzz.
How to practice Bhastrika Pranayama
- Sit in easy cross-legged pose or lotus.
- Lengthen your spine by reaching the crown of your head to the sky and bring your chin parallel to the floor.
- Close your eyes and rest your hands on your knees.
- After taking a couple natural breaths, take a deep and exaggerated inhalation through your nose. Then exhale in a similar way, deep and exaggerated.
- The length of each inhalation and exhalation should match.
- Practice 10 rounds of this breath, then lie down for a moment in savasana (corpse pose).
These three practices will help you to get your energy back. They may not be the final word on your energy levels, but they’re the best place to start. And because these practices are based on the breath, the sun, and movement, they’re free and accessible at any time, to anyone.