As busy summer schedules start to taper off toward fall, the new school year begins, and the days slowly getting darker earlier, fatigue is bound to set in soon. Getting more Zzzs is always the best choice for feeling more rested, but if you still feel like you’re living on espressos to get you through each day, it’s time to turn to yoga to boost your energy.
While many people think of yoga as a relaxing, zen experience–something that sounds more soporific than stimulating–the truth is that a mat practice with the right poses can be an amazing way to kick up your stamina a notch. It all boils down to deeper breathing in order to deliver fresh oxygen to the blood and thus your body, twisting and stretching the body and organs to rinse internal toxins from the system, and balancing postures that require deeper focus and sharpened awareness to revitalize your mind. Ready to feel more awake? Roll out your mat, and give these refreshing poses a try.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose: This common yoga pose is a great one with which to begin your practice, and one that can be quite rejuvenating. In yogi talk, this pose stimulates the bladder meridian, a channel of the body that has 67 acupuncture points–the longest in the body, which runs from head to toe. When this meridian is stretched and strengthened, it can increase energy flow throughout the entire body.
How to: Start on all fours, with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Curl your toes under and lift your butt toward the sky, letting your head drop between your arms toward the floor. Think about touching your heels to the floor (it may come with time), and reaching your chest back toward your knees. Relax and breathe deeply in this posture for 10 breaths.
Upward-Facing Dog Pose: Increased computer and screen time mean a lot of hunching forward, which can limit respiratory and cardiovascular function. Chest-opening exercises such as this one can help to increase lung capacity and stimulate the abdominal organs for better digestion, all of which can lead to a boost in energy.
How to: Begin face down with your hands palm down beneath your shoulders and the tops of your feet on the mat. Press the palms into the floor as you bring your chest forward, your head toward the ceiling, and your shoulders down your back. Your arms should be straight, with your hands flat on the ground. Further the intensity of this pose by lifting your hips off the ground while keeping the tops of your feet on the mat.
Camel Pose: For a more intense chest opener, the Camel Pose will help to break up stagnant energy to better flow throughout the body.
How to: Stand on your knees with the tops of your feet flat on the mat. It’s important to ease into this position in order to keep your back protected. Place your palms on the top of each butt cheek, with the bottom of your hand at your lower back. Take a deep breath in, and slowly release it as your lift your chest up toward the ceiling and back, as if bending over a beach ball. You can keep your hands on your lower back, or if you feel flexible enough, lower your hands to hold onto your heels. Let your head drop back to stretch your neck. Be sure to keep an arch in your back. Breathe four deep breaths here before slowly returning to the start position.
Revolved Side Angle Pose: When you twist the body, you apply pressure to internal organs, which aids in releasing toxins and helping with digestion. This twisting pose also helps to promote circulation throughout the body, which can leave you feeling revitalized.
How to: Starting in standing position, step back with your left foot so that you are in a lunge position with your right knee bent above your right ankle. Find your balance here first. Bring your palms to prayer position in front of your heart. Bend forward at the waist and twist your body to the right side so that your left elbow is on the outside of your right thigh or knee. Work on keeping low in the lunge position while also rotating your chest toward the sky with a straight back. Breathe in this posture for three to five deep cleansing breaths.
Complete each of these poses in succession, or use them individually as needed when you need a little energy boost in your day. Drink plenty of water to flush toxins from your system and to further aid you in feeling more awake and alert.
What’s your favorite way to feel revitalized? Tell us in the comments.