10 Terrific Yoga Tricks to Wake Up & Calm Down.

Via Michelle Margaret Fajkus
on Jan 8, 2014
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The Sanskrit word hatha breaks down into “ha” and “tha,” which mean sun and moon, respectively.

Not coincidentally, hatha yoga can help us connect with our inner sun and moon energies and find a balance between the two.

With consistent, devoted practice, yoga automagically aligns our chakras and brings vitality to our bodies and minds.

But if consistent, devoted practice is eluding you for whatever reason and you find yourself feeling tired and sluggish or overstimulated and hyper, here are ten simple yoga tricks to employ—five for lifting our energy up and five for bringing it back down to earth.

Wake Up Yoga

1. Sun breath

This form of pranayama (breath control) is a variation of Alternate Nostril Breathing. Using your right hand, fold the index finger and middle finger down to touch the palm. Begin with the ring finger lightly closing your left nostril. Inhale through the right nostril. Retain the breath in if you wish. Then, lightly close your right nostril with your thumb and release the finger from your left nostril. Exhale through the left side.

That is one cycle. To summarize: inhale right, exhale left. Optionally retain the inbreath in and the outbreath out. Work up to doing this breath exercise for five or more minutes at a time.

2. Back bends

All back bending asanas, whether gentle or intense, are warming and energizing. Use them to wake up; they’re like a natural espresso shot. (They’re also great for warding off doldrums and depression.)

Try not to practice back bends in the late afternoon or evening, as they can keep you up past your bedtime.

3. Dog breath

Pant like a dog, through the open mouth or through the nose. Try two sets of thirty seconds each, resting between the sets and taking several deep breaths. It may seem silly, but it really works.

4. Focus on the upper chakras

Especially the third eye. Awakening our intuition and imagination makes us more alert and energized.

5. Upward movement

Visualize energy in the form of white light flowing upward from the base of your spine to the crown of your head and up to the sky. Raise your arms overhead and stretch. Chant. Sing. Dance.

To bring your energy level up, lift your head, lift your chest and lift your gaze.

Calm Down Yoga

6. Moon breath

It’s the calming sibling of sun breath. Inhale left, exhale right. Optionally retain the breath in and out for a few seconds— but only if it feels comfortable to do so. Another option is to simply close the right nostril lightly with the index finger and breathe in and out through the left nostril only for a few minutes.

7. Forward bends

Forward bending asanas, both standing and seated, are naturally cooling and relaxing. They turn our gaze and focus inward. They calm the mind and help us feel more grounded and stable. Practice moves such as child’s pose or standing forward bend with extended holds when you strive to feel more tranquil or before going to sleep.

8. Bellows breath

There’s nothing quite like long, deep breathing for calming our entire nervous system. Inhale slowly, relaxing the belly and filling the lungs from the bottom up. Exhale slowly, releasing the air from the lungs from the top down. Practice several rounds and enjoy the sense of ease and rest this simple breath technique provides.

9. Bring attention to the lower chakras

Especially the root chakra. Notice the soles of your feet, bringing awareness to where they touch your shoes or the ground. Go outside and stand in the grass, dirt or sand. Remember our innate connection to Mother Earth.

10. Downward movement

Visualize a golden (or any color) light moving downward from your crown to the base of your spine and down your legs to your feet. Lie down on the floor. Practice restorative and/or yin yoga. Move your gaze downward, relax and release your neck and facial muscles. Cool down. Let go. Allow yourself to rest.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Flickr


About Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a Gemini yogini, writer, teacher and retreat leader who founded Yoga Freedom in 2002 in Austin, Texas. Her home since 2012 is Lake Atitlán, Guatemala where she lives in a tiny eco cabin with her Colombiano partner and their adorable daughter, dog and two gatos. Michelle has been writing this column for elephant journal since 2010 and has written some inspiring books, with more on the way. She leads yoga and mindfulness retreats and serves as the retreat managers for the stunningly beautiful Villa Sumaya on majestic Lago Atitlan. Her lineage is the very esoteric Yoga Schmoga, which incorporates hatha yoga asana, dharma (Buddhist) teachings, pranayama (breath work), yin yoga, mindfulness practices and meditation. Join Michelle on retreat in Guatemala!


2 Responses to “10 Terrific Yoga Tricks to Wake Up & Calm Down.”

  1. Lori says:

    Love how you have five simple poses to wake up and five to calm down! So many people look at yoga as either being calm and "ohm" or as a vigorous workout. Nicely done!

  2. antara says:

    I would say: surya namaskara. Surya means sun and namaskara – salutations in Sanskrit. It vitalizes the whole body and at the same time balances all the systems and glands in it.