Feeling sluggish or drained? Yoga is the natural energy boost your body and mind are craving! The right yoga asanas and sequences can invigorate and warm you.
According to Ayurveda, feelings of fatigue and low energy are often the result of an increase in the Kapha dosha. The antidote is creating more stimulation, warmth, and lightness in our lives. Sun salutations are an effective way to invoke these qualities and shake off any sleepiness, heaviness and lethargy. Sun salutations help to increase vigor, vitality and warm up your body, just as the sun does.
Once you’ve warmed up your body, the next best type of yoga for energy is backbend asanas. Backbends naturally stretch and activate the spine, expanding the heart space and making us feel more awake.
Here’s a list of the best backbends for increasing energy.
Backbends to Practice for Energy
Before practicing any type of yoga backbend, it is important to warm up. Try a couple of cat/cow poses and as always, listen and honor your body during your yoga practice.
- Cobra Pose, also known as Bhujangasana, is a great pose to begin your backbend warm-up. While lying on the stomach, bring both palms to the outside of the ribcage. Press into your palms to lift up, never locking through the elbows. Allow your gaze to slightly lift while taking a few deep breaths. Feel the stretch and opening through the chest and front body.
- Sphinx Pose is a great backbend to start with if you are new to backbending. Your forearms stay grounded with elbows under shoulders. Widen across the collarbones and heart space. To intensify, you can tuck the toes under to lift the knee caps off of your mat.
- Upward-Facing Dog Pose, also known as Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, is a powerful pose in which the palms of your hands and the tops of your feet are the only surfaces grounded on the mat. This pose will ignite your upper body strength as the front body stretches. Take a few deep breaths, breathing in energy and exhaling anything no longer serving you.
- Camel Pose, also known as Ustrasana, is a deeper backbend. From the shins, tuck the toes under. As you inhale, lift through the back of the heart. You can choose to keep your hands on the small of your back or reach for the heels. Energetically press your hips towards the front of your mat. To come out, slowly exit to sitting on your shins. Take a few calming breaths and give it one more try if you are up to it!
- Bridge Pose is a type of backbend with so many benefits, including improving digestion, stimulating the endocrine system, improving nervous system function, and of course, boosting energy! Press into the palms and feet to lift the hips up towards the sky. You can try variations such as lifting the heels up or walking the shoulder blades underneath you while clasping the hands. Stay for 5 deep breaths before lowering down. Windshield wipe the knees side to side to release any tension.
- Wheel Pose, also known as Urdhva Dhanurasana, is an advanced backbend that requires mobility in the spine and shoulders as well as strength. If wheel pose is not in your practice, it is best to learn this pose from a trained yoga teacher. If wheel pose is in your practice, it is a great pose to do daily after you move through a standing sequence and warm-up. Wheel Pose is energizing and will definitely boost your mood and lift your spirits! Get comfortable with other backbends before giving this one a try.
The combination of sun salutation and backbends will not only increase your energy, but also leave you feeling more empowered, embodied and inspired! Add this flow to your morning routine and notice how it fuels your day with vitality and passion.
For an extra energy boost, enjoy a delicious spoonful of Chyawanprash before your yoga practice. Chyawanprash is an organic superfood jam packed with herbs and spices – including adaptogens – that increase energy naturally and enhance focus and immunity for the day ahead.
Alexa Bull is an Ayurvedic Health Coach, Yoga Teacher and Aromatherapist based in Brooklyn.