3 Yoga Poses for an Instant Energy Boost
- Written By:Danielle Diamond
Unless you’ve been riding the Full Throttle coaster in California all summer or doing cartwheels in the yard with your kids, chances are you haven’t flipped upside down lately. I get it, why would you? Unless, perhaps, you were in a yoga class and the teacher called out handstand. Oh, you happened to get an emergency phone call right around that time? Got it.
Seriously though, there are tons of great reasons to turn your world upside down, or at least get your blood flowing in the opposite direction. My favorite? Ditching that morning cup of java.
Ok, before you have a meltdown, I’m not saying you need to kick your caffeine habit to the curb, but for those of us who feel like it causes more jitters than activates brain cells, I’ve found my morning inversion to be a perfect replacement. Why? Most people drink caffeine to up their energy, boost focus and increase productivity, but the great news is that by turning upside down you can get the same benefits. And might I add, without the cream and sugar.
You don’t necessarily need to do a handstand, but I do believe that everyone should get their blood flowing to their brain from a little inversion action, for multiple reasons.
Inversions set yoga apart from other physical disciplines by reversing the action of gravity on the body. Instead of everything being pulled towards the feet, the flow shifts towards the head, and amazing things happen:
Your blood gets flowing in the opposite direction so the brain is both invigorated and calmed
You’ll have more energy, mental power, and concentration
The immune and endocrine systems are activated
Your sense of balance improves
Stress and mild depression can lessen from the reduction of the stress hormone, cortisol
Your adrenal glands and kidneys get nourished, not drained as caffeine can leave them
- It not only renews the body, but it also re-focuses the mind
So good, right? Who needs a cup of coffee to get you going when you just take a few deep breaths while doing one of the following poses, and reap all those benefits.
LEGS UP ON THE WALL
An inversion even the most beginner yogi can do is Legs up the Wall. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like, you basically lie on your back with your legs up against the wall. This drains the blood from your legs and brings it down toward your hips and eventually to your heart and brain if you put a blanket under your hips.
You can get detailed instructions and benefits here. Don’t be fooled by the picture, although it can be relaxing if done with restorative breathing, it can also boost your energy.
Not challenged yet? This next one’s for you. Down Dog is usually the first inversion you’ll ever learn in an actual yoga class because although you’re not flipping your feet over your head, you’re still inverted where your hips are higher than your heart, so you’ll still get many of the above benefits. Step by step instructions can be found here, and don’t worry if your heels don’t touch the floor, they can be a few inches up with your knees bent if they need to be.
Ready to go all in? Yes, handstands require strength from head to toe and a willingness to put fear on the back burner for a minute, but the rewards far outweigh the risks. A few more reasons I love a good handstand that have nothing to do with why your doc will tell you to do one:
They’re much cheaper than your daily $5 fancy coffee
They recruit dozens of muscles and increase shoulder, arm, upper back, and core strength while helping your wrists and shoulders gain mobility
- They make you feel powerful
That last one, though. When I was interviewed for Bobbi’s book, Pretty Powerful, I said the thing that makes me feel most powerful is doing a handstand in the middle of the room. After that rush of blood to the head, while standing on both hands, I feel like I can take on anything the day throws at me, whether at work, dealing with my kids, or whatever else life throws at me.
- Place your fingertips an inch or two away from a wall, hands shoulder-width.
- If your shoulders are tight, turn your index fingers out slightly.
- Firm your shoulder blades against your back torso and pull them toward your tailbone.
- Rotate your upper arms outward, to keep the shoulder blades broad, and hug your outer arms inward.
- Spread your palms and press all four corners firmly against the floor.
- Now bend one knee and step the foot in, closer to the wall (we'll say it's the left leg), but keep the other (i.e. right) leg active by extending through the heel.
- Lift through that top heel and kick the bottom leg up to meet the top leg.
- As both legs come off the ground, engage your deep core muscles to lift your hips over your shoulders.
- If your lower back is deeply arched, draw your front ribs into your torso, reach your tailbone toward your heels, and slide your heels higher up the wall.
- Squeeze the outer legs together and roll the thighs in.
- Relax your head and gaze between your hands.
- Engage your core a ton, take a deep breath, and take your feet off the wall.
Ok, let’s do it; and if you aren’t feeling the benefits I swear by when your back on your feet, then go ahead and have that latte.