As a companion to last week’s Better Sleep Through Qigong, Meditation, Talkdown and Other Gentle Practices, I thought it would be helpful to do one on ways to increase energy, vitality and vigor throughout the day. While there is a great deal of options for slowing down and preparing for sleep, there seem to be far fewer practices for morning. Could it be that as a society we have so many “pick me ups” already built in, such as coffee and assorted other “energy” drinks?
In Chinese medicine, Qi or chi is referred to as the life force, natural energy or energy that flows through ones body. It’s very common for people to talk about having “no” or “low” energy.” So instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, or eating a chocolate bar, try some of the following to increase Qi or energy flow:
• Breathe deeply into you lungs
• Right Nostril Breathing: Just like the left nostril breathing of last week, by breathing through the right nostril you can increase energy. Cover the left nostril with your thumb and extend the fingers out. With a long, slow, deep breath, gently inhale through your right nostril. Then, just as gently, exhale long, slowly and completely, again through the right nostril. Take 5-10 deep breathes. Trying counting 4 breathes in, hold the breath for 4 and exhale for 4. Using the mantra Sa Ta Na Ma can be used in place of the numbers.
• Alternate Nostril Breathing: So when it’s one of the those morning when you wake up “on the wrong side of the bed,” balance things with alternate nostril breathing. With a long, slow, deep breath, gently inhale through your left nostril. Then release the thumb and, using the index finger on the right hand, block off the left nostril and exhale long, slowly and completely, through the right nostril. Keeping the left nostril blocked with index finger, inhale slowly and fully through the right nostril. Switch your fingers again so that the right thumb is blocking the right nostril and exhale completely through the left nostril. Continue this alternate nostril breathing for 3 to 11 minutes. Switch nostrils only to exhale. Use the following video if you need help.
• Calm.com: This is one of my favorite sites as they offer a variety of guided meditations from 2-20 minutes, plus relaxing sounds. Amazing how it can make you feel more alive in the morning and help to unwind at the end of the day.
• A Meditation of Morning Intention (a little over 6 minutes)
• Reduce energy drains by:
- Limiting TV time-avoid excess watching
- Limiting how much time you stay seated
- Spending too much time in crowded places
- Surrounding yourself with flowers, nature and colors that are soothing for you.
- Do something you enjoy every day
- Be mindful of what you are eating, and avoid over or under eating Eat foods like nuts, vegetables, fruits, seed, beans, fish, whole grains, and fish.
• 8 Brocades Practice: This is my favorite of the 8 Brocades videos that are available on-line
• Exercise: Keep in mind that if you are exercising to increase energy you want calm energy, not the fatigue that can result from a 45 minute intense work out session at the gym. A 10-15 minute walk is all you need to feel rejuvenated without tiring yourself out. Other forms of exercise that can help you feel recharged include yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Qigong and even resistance strength training. Stay hydrated while you work out.
• Listen to music