Our modern lives tend to come with a lot of craziness and at the end or even the beginning of the day, you can often feel that you could do with a little more energy.
While I often used to resort to energy drinks and coffee for that energy boost, I realized that yoga does give a more natural energy boost and I have never looked back since.
If you are like me you probably only thought of yoga in terms of obscure practices that only promise to bring about nuanced control of subtle systems in the body and self-realization.
However, did you know that our life force or energy is how we connect our physical to our emotional and mental experience? Through practicing yoga we attain a more natural flow of that energy which then results in more emotional flexibility, mental clarity, and physical energy.
You know what?
Research has shown that yoga practice is specifically effective at reducing fatigue, improving fitness and providing an invigorating effect on physical and mental energy. The following are some of the most effective yoga sequences for energy going into 2020.
Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
The easy pose with an arch is one of my favourite ways of increasing energy and focus. The Sukhasana is known for providing a calming effect on the brain, strengthening the back and stretching the ankles and knees.
You get increased focus from the even breathing and the meditative pose helps to relax the body and mind and reduce anxiety and stress which gives you more energy. Moreover, being a preparatory practice, it increases concentration and helps you get ready for more difficult poses.
To do the Sukhasana, get a blanket or two and fold them into a firm support. Sit on the blanket and then cross your shins and slip a foot behind the opposite knee. Place your hands on the knees with the palm either facing upward or downward. Close your eyes and take 3-5 deep breaths
Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
This is one of the foundational balancing postures you will do in yoga and for good reason.
Since it is a balancing pose, it helps with focus while also helping with energy. Given that it is done standing up, you get the blood flowing, which reinvigorates and provides energy not only for the brain but the entire body.
To do the tree pose, stand on a mat and then bring up one foot to rest on the inner thigh to let all your weight rest on one foot. You can then either lift your hands above your head or bring the palms together in front of the chest. Relax in the pose breathing regularly and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
The cobra pose is one of the most powerful poses for building energy given its effects on the body.
The pose strengthens the spine and in the process also alleviates constipation, massages abdominal organs and stimulates appetite. All these serve to increase energy as you get better nutrition and digestion which are critical for energy.
In addition to the energy, I have also found that it strengthens the arms over time allowing for greater flexing of the spine.
To do the cobra pose, lie flat on your stomach with your legs close together. With the palms close together, lift the torso until it approximates a 90-degree angle with the legs. Tilt the head back and looking up breathe in and out normally and hold the position for 20-25 seconds.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
The forward bending pose is a foundational pose that helps to stretch the ligaments and muscles.
It also provides energy and increases focus since it improves blood flow to the spine and the head. Better blood flow improves digestion and is good for the respiratory system in addition to relaxing the body and calming the mind.
I have found that the practice helps strengthen the back, arms, ankles, and legs and results in toned muscles of the calves, abdomen, thighs, arms, back, and thighs which means I don’t get tired as often or as fast.
To do the pose, start with the feet flat on the mat about hip-width apart. Walk the hands to the end of the mat to approximate a plank position with the shoulders above the wrists. Stretch the shoulders back and pike the hips up while bending the knees to keep the back flat. Take a deep breath and then come out of the pose.
Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)
This is one of the most strenuous and hence one of my favourite poses for energy. As a standing yoga pose, it requires a lot of balance, flexibility and strength.
The Virabhadrasana enhances blood circulation and in doing so energizes the body and enhances concentration. It also stimulates abdominal organs, which makes it great for digestion.
While previously I had issues with coordination, the intense workout of the warrior pose has improved my coordination, balanced and toned my ankles, knees, and thighs. This means I can do more strenuous poses without feeling tired as fast as I was before.
To do the warrior pose, start with the feet 4-5 feet apart with one leg in front of the other. The upper thigh should be 90 degrees perpendicular to the torso. Raise the arms over the head and join the palms. Keep the left knee stretched out and lift the head to face upward. Hold the posture for eight breaths and do the same with the other foot.
Wheel Pose (Chakrasana)
This is my go-to pose when I need a comprehensive asana as it provides both mental and physical energy.
The backbend lengthens and strengthens every vertebra in the body thus increasing flexibility and elasticity. This means that you will not be so tired even if you are doing strenuous activity.
Since the head is held below the body, the increased blood flow refreshes the brain. It has also been known to strengthen the respiratory system and by doing so increases the flow of oxygen into the lungs to reduce strain on the body.
Additionally, the pose not only strengthens the spine but also the other bones and muscles.
To do the pose lie down on the mat facing upward with the soles of the feet flat on the surface. Place the hand palms flat on the floor just under the shoulders and slowly lift the body off the floor. Straighten the hands and legs and arch the back. Stay in the posture for several seconds and repeat a few times.
Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Fish Pose is an intermediate backward bending yoga posture but it is easy enough that I was able to master it even as a beginner.
The fish pose is great for energy given that it is said to be the destroyer of all diseases. The asana induces deep relaxation, releases tension, and controls hormonal function.
It energizes the system and engages the core thus healing the body from the inside out. Matsyasana also helps with focus as it requires balance and a lot of deep breaths which serves to enhance oxygen intake to make you more relaxed and alert.
To do the pose lie flat on the back with the legs outstretched and then inhale and lift the butt placing the hands palms facing down underneath them. Lift the chest off the floor while arching the spine and have the crown of the head flat on the floor. Relax and take 10 to 20 deep breaths.
Dancers Pose (Natarajasana)
One of the most popular asanas that always seems to grace all the magazine covers. The reason for this is not hard to fathom, the Natarajasana is a beautiful but also incredibly energizing pose.
I love that it combines meditation, strength, balance, and flexibility making it the ultimate pose jackpot. Practicing the pose always makes me feel strong, graceful and powerful as it increases focus, improves balance, opens and stretches the chests and shoulders and strengthens the leg muscles.
To do the pose, start with the feet on the mat and then bend the elbows to a 90-degree angle with one hand to the side and outstretched. Bend the knee and bring the heel of the leg toward the butt and grab the inner arch of the foot. Bend the torso at the hip and outstretch the free hand while gazing straight forward to maintain balance. Hold for several seconds and then do the same on the other side.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
The Utkatasana is one of my favourites as it is a power posture in and of itself. As anyone will tell you, lifting your arms is a power posture that results in a high energy mentality.
The chair pose increases energy as it works to tone the back, hips, shoulders butt and strengthens the ankles and thighs. It also opens the chest and stretches the shoulders thus toning the heart, the lungs and some of the digestive organs.
I have found that when I hold the pose for several breaths it increases my heart rate. This is beneficial for metabolism and circulatory systems that need to be worked from time to time to be reinvigorated.
To do the Chair pose, stand in Tadasana and then bend the knees to make a squat like position. Your butt should be pushed back so that you approximate a sitting position with the knees aligned with the toes. Lift the arms right above the bead and then hold your breath for 10 to 20 seconds.
Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
The sun salutation is amazing as it makes for deep breathing which boosts metabolism through enhancing the intake of oxygen.
I also love how it is about body movement in tune with the rhythm of the breath. The pose has positive effects on psychological disorders, reduces stress, and blood pressure.
Movement through the postures with deep and even breathing helps in the coordination of body and mind, which often provides a deep meditative effect when I perform the asana. With improvements in so many aspects of body and mind, it always improves energy.
To do the pose start from the edge of the mat and stand with the arms hanging loosely on the sides. With the feet slightly apart straight head and back, lift the chest and shoulders slightly back into a relaxed position. Take deep slow breaths while keeping the body fully relaxed.
Practicing Yoga for Energy in 2020
When you are getting up bleary-eyed or in an afternoon slump, yoga may be just the thing that you need for that jolt of energy. The invigorating poses such as Sukhasana, Bhujangasana, Virabhadrasana and Surya Namaskar among the others on this list are some of the most effective ways to fight fatigue.
Research has found that yoga will not only improve physical health, relieve anxiety and stress and improve sleep quality but that it is a natural energy booster. It unblocks energy stuck in the spine into the body and mind through movement and breath.
Through the movements and action of yoga, we are bringing new life into the body and awakening the nervous and circulatory system thus stimulating blood flow. The increase in blood flow helps boost feelings of vitality and combat fatigue. Pagoda Yoga is a yoga studio located in Whitby, Ontario and might be the answer you’re looking for.