Solve the energy crisis—do yoga!
For years I’ve been saying that fatigue isn’t an absence of energy; it’s a blockage of energy.
Untold times I’ve felt tired and sluggish when starting to practice yoga, and invariably 15 minutes in, I discover a reservoir of energy that I didn’t know I had.
Because of the frequency and length of our sitting habits, the hip joints and the hamstrings are, quite simply, where energy tends to get “stuck.” Free up the hips and hamstrings and you have an immediately improved energy availability—both physical and mental.
Now, this won’t make up for chronic energy issues, but it will give you a little boost. And improve your balance and range of motion to boot.
In six steps:
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take one deep, slow, full breath.
2. Shift the weight of your body onto your left foot and let your right leg rise and balance. Take another two deep, slow breaths.
3. Slowly swing your right leg behind you until it’s parallel to the floor. Here are a front and a side view of the same position. Bring your palms together underneath your heart. Take three deep, slow breaths.
4. After the breaths, swing your right leg through as you stand and extend your arms up in the air. Take two slow breaths.
5. Now, cross your right leg over your left leg and ground your right foot on the outside of your left foot. Fold forward and either set your hands (or fingertips) on the floor, or use a yoga block or something equivalent to ground your hands. Here is a front and a side view of the same position. Take three slow breaths here.
6. Leaving your left hand on the floor (or yoga block), lift your right arm, turn your head and look toward the ceiling. Since this is the final position, take three, or up to six, breaths while here. If your neck starts to become tired, stop.
That’s it. Now repeat the same thing on the other side.
Benefits: Releases hip joint tension, focuses your mind, releases hamstring tightness and back tightness and enhances your ability to extend and twist. And, oh, yeah: it gives you a little mental and physical energy boost.
Avoid if: This sequence requires balance, coordination, strength, hip joint wellness and the ability to lengthen into a twist…so a lot of things may not work for your body. If your balance is off, do this sequence next to a table or a chair and touch your hand down on it as needed to keep you safe in the balance.
If your hips or hamstrings hurt (not in a stretch-deep kind of way) then this sequence is probably not useful for your body right now: try other poses to prepare your body gently for this pose. If in the last step you can’t get a good, stable position of your hand on the floor or yoga block that you can press off of and twist with, then add however many other yoga blocks you need underneath the hand. Remember: never force; breathe fully with all positions.
Final thoughts: If you’re complaining that this seems like a lot of poses to do all at once, you may be right. But chairs have been around since before the pharaohs and though we may stand at work or use a “kneeling” type chair, sitting down is probably not going out of style anytime soon. So this is the antidote.
Author: Ricardo das Neves
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own