Q: Hey Mary, how’s your home yoga practice going?
A: Aw, I have not been practicing lately, I’ve been so tired!
This is a very common, real conversation I have with my students. “Being tired” is one of the first excuses that people come up with in order to skip their yoga practice… and, in my humble opinion, it should not be!
You know me by now; I am a yoga believer. I do believe yoga has an answer for every physical and emotional need we may have… including fatigue.
“Let me share an easy, short yoga sequence for when you need a coffee!”
As we saw in my post “How Yoga Can Change Your Mood”, back bending postures increase flexibility in your spine, stretch your chest and shoulders, open your heart chakra and boost your energy. So we will use a bunch of those in our energizing cocktail.
- Bitilasana Marjaryasana (Cat Cow Pose). Great for spine care and to start energizing your body, this posture promotes an internal massage that stretches and contracts your abdominals, aiding with energy flow. Place your hands and knees on the floor: hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. As you inhale, arch your spine into Cow Pose (belly moving down, shoulders up). As you exhale, round your spine, move your shoulders down, draw your navel in and bring your chin to chest, taking Cat Pose. Repeat 10 times.
- Ardha Bhujangasana (Baby Cobra) into Bhujangasana (Full Cobra). Baby Cobra is a gentle backbend will not only give you energy, but it will also strengthen your back muscles. This is a great one to do as a part of your warm-up, since it’s not quite as deep of a backbend as some of the other poses. Come onto your stomach; place your palms flat on the floor on either side of your ribs with your elbows pointed upwards. As you inhale, peel your head and shoulders up off the ground using the upper back muscles. As you exhale, lower your head back down onto the floor. As you slowly repeat this motion, try to increase your range of motion every time you come up, until your arms are (almost) straight. After 5 repetitions, hold your full expression of Cobra Pose and take 5 long breaths.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog). Downward-Facing Dog energizes and rejuvenates the entire body. This posture (especially in combination with the previous one) will really help you energize after a short night or a long day. The flow of blood to the brain also calms the nervous system, improves memory and concentration, and relieves stress. From Bhujangasana, tuck the toes under, press into the hands and begin to lift the hips up towards the ceiling. Spread the fingers wide apart with the middle finger facing forward. Press the out through the fingers and edges of the hands. Using straight arms, press the hips up and back reaching the chest towards the thighs. Lift up through the tailbone to keep the spine straight and long. Have the feet at hip’s width apart with the toes facing forward. Press the heels into the floor feeling a stretch in the back of the legs. Look up at the navel. Take 5 deep, slow breaths.
- Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge with An Arch). This variation of Low Lunge is an excellent energizer and mood uplifter, as well as a great hip opener, which will help you release tension around your hips, pelvis and lower back. From Downward-Facing Dog, step your right foot between your hands and ensure your right ankle is directly under your right knee. Bring your left knee to the mat, and untuck your toes. Press into the ground with both legs, and engage your core as you lift your torso and reach your arms overhead. Bring your hands into prayer above your head. Try to keep your hips aligned (push your left hip forward) while you look up and slowly arch back into a backbend, reaching your chest towards the ceiling. Hold for 5 deep breaths on each side.
- Malasana (Garland pose). This hip opener will help release tension in your pelvis and lower back area, as well as energize you. Separate your feet about as wide as your shoulders, turn your toes out. Squat all the way down. Take your hands into prayer at your chest and place your elbows on your inner knees, pressing outward. Try to lengthen your spine and widen the space across the front of your chest and breathe deeply. Take 5 deep breaths.
- Dhanurasana (Bow pose). Bow Pose stretches the entire front of the body, opening the heart chakra and flooding your body with renewed energy, while simultaneously strengthening every muscle in the back. Begin by lying flat on your stomach with your chin on the mat and your hands resting at your sides. Bring your heels as close as you can to your buttocks, keeping your knees hip-distance apart. Reach back with both hands and hold onto your outer ankles. On an inhalation, lift your heels up toward the ceiling, drawing your thighs up and off the mat. Your head, chest, and upper torso will also lift off the mat. Lift your chest and press your shoulder blades firmly into your upper back. Draw your shoulders away from your ears. Look up and take 5 slow breaths.
- Balasana (Child’s Pose): This final posture will help you balance, relax and wrap up the sequence. Separate your knees wide and rest your forehead on the floor. Let your whole body relax, while maintaining a straight spine. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Take 5 breaths and you’re all done!
Next time you’re feeling low on energy, give this sequence a try! It’s great for your morning practice, especially when you wake up feeling drained. These yoga postures will help you energize, feel confident and uplifted.
The world needs you in your best version, including your great energy. So wake up and shine bright!