It’s almost August, and it’s HOT. Days are long and the sun can be draining. What should be a season of play and fun sometimes makes me want to just take a nap… which is no way to spend the summer! When I need an energy boost, I turn to yoga.
We often use yoga to relax, but with the right poses, yoga can ENERGIZE us as well! These six yoga poses for energy can be used separately or together.
1. Surya Bhedana, or right nostril breathing:
Literally translating to “sun-piercing” breath, breathing through only the right nostril is revitalizing, stimulating, and awakening. The right nostril connects to our pingala nadi, which is associated with the warming energy of the sun. Right nostril breathing can be effective in reducing fatigue and anxiety, and in increasing awareness and metabolism.
To practice: Sit comfortably with a straight spine. Using your left thumb, gently close your left nostril. Extend the rest of your fingers out straight. Slowly inhale and exhale through only your right nostril. Note: the energy that comes with right nostril breathing can be uncomfortable at first. Be gentle.
2. Ardha Surya Namaskar, or half sun salutation:
Technically a short series of poses, a half sun salutation is great for a quick pick-me-up. If you’re looking for energy and only have time for one pose, this is the one I recommend.
To practice: Begin by standing in Mountain Pose (tadasana), with chest lifted and palms facing forward. Circle sweep your arms overhead, stretching upward, and then circle sweep your arms all the way down to the ground (or as close as you can comfortably get!), while hinging at your hips and keeping a straight back on the way down. On an inhale, lift the palms gently to your shins and your back to a 90 degree angle. Exhale and fold back down to the ground. Activate your legs, and on an inhale, circle sweep your arms all the way back overhead, keeping a straight spine as you come up. Slowly exhale and bring your hands in front of your heart in prayer position. Repeat three times.
3. Virabhadrsana II, or Warrior II:
The name says it all here, folks. This is the pose of a warrior, and if a warrior doesn’t have energy, I don’t know who does.
To practice: From a standing position, step your left foot back roughly three feet. Point your left toes out to the side, and your right toes to the front. Gently bend into the right knee, and angle your hips in the same direction as your left toes. This will gently stretch your hips open. Extend both arms straight out to your sides, and turn your head to gaze over your right fingertips. Once you’re here, focus on keeping both legs activated, and your spine long and tall. Hold for five slow breaths.
4. Ardha Chandrasana, or half moon:
This is the most advanced pose in the list, so if you’re a beginner and want to skip it, then skip it! If you want to go for it, the half moon pose is simultaneously a balancing pose and a heart-opening pose, both of which are known to increase energy levels.
To practice: This can be entered straight from warrior II if you’re practicing these poses as a flow, or it can be entered from a basic forward fold. Either way, you’ll place your right hand about a foot in front of your right foot and your left hand on your hip. Gently lift your left leg up to hip height, keeping hips open to the side like in warrior II. Do your best to stack your left shoulder on top of your right, as this is what achieves the heart-opening aspect of the pose. If you’re comfortable, try lifting your left arm straight up. Keep both legs activated (especially the lifted leg!) and the lifted foot flexed for maximum balance. Hold for five breaths, and then slowly lower the left arm and leg.
5. Vasisthasana, or side plank:
A combination of strength and balance that always gets me feeling strong and energized.
To practice: From a basic plank pose (push-up position), rotate your body to the right, transferring all your weight into your right arm and foot. Rest your left hand on your hip, or extend it up to the sky. Engage your core to prevent your hips from sagging toward the ground. Hold for five breaths, then slowly rotate back toward the ground. Repeat on the other side.
6. Urdha Mukha Svanasana, or upward facing dog:
This pose is a gentle back-bender, which will stretch your spine and make you feel alive!
To practice: From a basic plank pose (push-up position), flip your toes so that the tops of your feet are on the ground. Lower your hips toward the ground, but not all the way to touching. Keep your arms straight, opening your chest and shining your heart forward, and lengthen your neck to gaze softly up to the sky. Keep your legs activated and strong. Hold for five breaths.
Put it together
If you’re practicing these poses all together as a flow, repeat poses 3-6, but on the left side.
Now go slay your day!