I am the type of person who tries to fit as much into my days as possible. After all, we only are guaranteed today, right? Those who know me well may even say I tend to try to fit more into most days than I should. However, as I have gotten older and more in touch with the connection between my mind, body, and spirit I am better able to tell when I can keep going and continue working and when I am exhausted and need a break.
Although there are many factors in the days I feel energized vs. drained, one thing I have seemed to notice over the years is that the days or weeks I keep a regular yoga practice, my body seems to fight off fatigue and I have more energy throughout my day.
To make that connection even more real, I recently read a study that adds to the growing body of evidence that a few sun salutations could help you face each day with more enthusiasm.
Taking formal yoga classes for three months lowered fatigue by 57% for breast cancer survivors. Their rates of inflammation were also reduced by 20%. Researchers attribute a large share of the dramatic results from this Ohio State University study to the way yoga improves sleep.
It is also wonderful to see that the benefits kept growing the longer the women practiced, even when some participants dropped out of yoga classes. It all goes to show that brief exposure to yoga can teach you long lasting lessons!
If you want to have more energy, take a look at how yoga replenishes your resources and some poses that assist in banishing fatigue.
How Yoga Helps to Fight Fatigue
- Get better quality sleep. Yoga frees your mind and body from common obstacles to sleep. As unpleasant thoughts and body aches diminish, you feel more comfortable when going to sleep and more rested when you awake.
- Increase your motivation to exercise. It’s easy to fall into a rut where sleep issues keep you from being active and being sedentary intensifies sleep issues. You just need to commit to your health and get back on track with holistic exercise like yoga.
- Manage stress. Yoga also has a spiritual dimension as seen in meditation and ethical living. Regardless of what type of yoga you like to practice, try to find a class, video, or find time in your solo practice where you can just be still and focus on your breath. I know once I started taking this part of yoga more seriously I started realizing many more benefits in my practice. Mindfulness and breathing practices promote peace of mind and greater resilience.
- Strengthen your cardiovascular system. Stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen through all the cells of your body. Experienced yoga practitioners often develop low resting heart rates. It’s a good measure of overall fitness and strongly associated with a longer life span. One of my Indian yoga gurus compared the practice of breath work in yoga to breathing like a turtle. Some turtles live to be over 100 years old because they take about four breaths per minute, verses our beloved dogs live on average 10 – 13 years and take 40 breaths or more per minute. Breathe like a turtle and live a longer life!
5. Harness the power of prana. One of the traditional goals of yoga is to get prana (life force) flowing. That may be especially important if you sit all day for work. Increased flexibility is one sign that your energy is becoming unblocked.
Top Yoga Exercises for Fighting Fatigue
- Wake up with sun salutations. There’s a good reason so many sessions start with this familiar cycle. The forward bends are great for getting energy flowing to your brain, heart and head. At the same time, the cobra pose opens your chest and stretches your spine.
- Do more downward dogs. In addition to being one of the best known poses, this whole body stretch is guaranteed to be rejuvenating. Like any inversion pose, it sends more oxygen and blood to your brain. Plus, it elongates your spine.
- Work on your back bends. Back bends reverse the lethargy that accumulates all day if you sit hunched over a keyboard. Energize your nervous system. Done properly, you’ll be lengthening both your spine and chest.
- Learn to relax. The resting poses in yoga accomplish more than you might think. I used to skip savasanas when I had a busy schedule to tend to and didn’t think the pose did much. So shameful! Lying on your back fully relaxed can help you get your second wind to last you through the remainder of your day.
- Twist around. When you twist at the waist, you massage your abdominal organs. That includes your liver and kidneys, which store energy for your body.
- Soothe your back. Many people are drowsy during the day because aches and pains keep them up at night. Poses like the plow can strengthen your back so you sleep more comfortably. Plus they keep your spine supple and healthy as you age.
- Turn your palms up. Yoga teaches that exposing your palms prepares you to receive energy. Try turning your hands over anytime you want a lift.
After feeling the effects that yoga has on my energy levels over time, I highly recommend starting your own practice of yoga if you haven’t already – especially if you are feeling tired and lethargic in your daily life. If you already have a yoga practice, try to set a goal for yourself to practice it as often as you can fit into your busy schedule each week. Hopefully you will not only notice physical and mental effects, but also a difference in your energy level each day!
As always, talk with your doctor if you have questions about your individual symptoms so any medical conditions can be ruled out. Otherwise, enjoy yoga as a safe and effective approach to feeling like a healthier and happier you!