Yoga For Energy
Feeling fatigued? Try these asanas to stimulate blood flow through your body for an instant midday boost!
It is 3pm. You’ve had lunch, returned from a meeting, and your inbox is already full. Yet, you find it difficult to focus. Your body is feeling sluggish. Your brain is not as alert. The dreaded midday slump is upon you. Instead of reaching for yet another cup of coffee, turn instead to these yoga poses to fight fatigue. Besides relieving stress, detoxifying your body, and improving your digestion, you’ll find that yoga is also an excellent caffeine-free energy booster. Below are three standing poses that you can perform without rolling out your mat, all of which work to stimulate your spine and give your body an energetic jolt. Coupled with an activated sense of balance and slow, steady breath, these asanas also help to invigorate your mind, grounding you for any challenges you need to tackle before the work day ends.
Asana #1: Pada Hasthasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Benefits: If you’re seated at your desk all day and feel your legs getting stiff, this standing forward bend pose will help to lengthen the muscles and ligaments of the entire posterior of your body, all the way from your heels to your hips and middle back. The pose also helps to stimulate the spine, activate your sense of balance, and channel extra blood to the brain, thereby bringing relief from tamas – a state of low energy characterised by sluggishness, sleepiness, and inertia.
Execution: Begin by standing upright with your feet together. Inhale and stretch your arms up and alongside your ears. Take care not to arch your back backwards and keep your neck relaxed. As you exhale, bend forward from the hips to form a horizontal line with your arms and upper body. As you deepen the bend, hold on to your ankles or big toes as you stay in this pose for up to a minute. Don’t forget to maintain a slow rhythmical breathing. For a greater stretch in the legs, slide the palms of your hands under your feet and hold the position for up to a minute. To release the pose, come back up with your arms and head hanging, then return to standing. This pose prepares you for Trikonasana (Triangle).
Tip: If the backs of your knees are over-extended, focus on keeping your knees straight without pushing them backward.
Asana #2: Trikonasana (Triangle)
Benefits: Besides helping to activate your sense of balance, Triangle’s lateral bend stretches and strengthens muscles on the sides of the body, increasing the mobility of the lumbar and thoracic areas (which runs from the base of the neck to the abdomen) of the spine. This energizing pose tones the spinal nerves while awakening the flow of energy in the body.
Execution: Stand with your legs twice shoulder-width apart. Turn your left foot outwards, taking care to align it with the instep of your right foot. Keep your hips squared and distribute your weight evenly on both feet. Raise your right arm up alongside your right ear as you breathe in. As you exhale, reach over your head and bend your trunk to the left, making sure to keep your left knee straight. Your hips, trunk and arm should form a horizontal line. Catch hold of your ankle or calf with your left hand. Remain in the pose for a minute as you maintain a calm breath. Repeat with the opposite side.
Tip: While holding the pose, take care not to lean on the lower hand. Take care to keep some weight on the back foot.
Asana #3: Natarajsana (Lord of the Dance)
Benefits: In Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is known by many names and manifests in various forms. One of which is Nataraja, which translates into ‘Lord of the Dance’, for he used to perform a cosmic dance to rejuvenate his emotions. Natarajsana, a graceful pose derived from this dancerly form, is also symbolic of our triumph over daily obstacles. If you’re facing challenges at work, think about the lightness and movement of dance as you practise this asana, reminding yourself that you too can move gracefully through the challenges that come your way. Besides developing greater flexibility in your spine and hamstrings, this energising pose activates the entire body and leaves you with a renewed sense of vigour.
Execution: Stand firmly on both feet before kicking your right ankle back and holding it with your right hand. Keep both thighs parallel to each other. As you inhale, stretch your left arm up and stretch your fingers upward. Look at a point in front of you to help establish your balance. As you push your right foot backward, lean forward with your upper body. Be sure to keep your back arm straight and keep the weight firmed grounded on your standing foot. Hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing and repeating with the opposite side.
Tip: Focus on the vertical position of the leg and arm on one side of the body to create a stable base. From here, you can then easily develop the backward bending movement on the other side of the body.
After a long, intense day at the office, moderate exercise can have a big effect on de-stressing and help you to unwind. If you’re looking for yoga or Pilates classes to help your body wind down at the end of a long day, check out The Yoga School’s evening classes. Unlike most commercial yoga studios where classes are sometimes packed with up to 40 students, classes here are deliberately kept small and cosy, allowing teachers to focus better on individuals and monitor their postural alignment. Try Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, which incorporates breathing exercises, or Restorative Yoga, a nurturing practice that’s supported by props, allowing you to completely relax and rest.