Everyone loves coffee. Or they should. I love my coffee and I am ashamed to say that I could not live without it. But sometimes it’s just too late to drink coffee. Or sometimes, to my great horror, I’m all out. I should be more yogic and rely on my own intuition and body for energy, anyway. Children often need a boost of energy, too (and no one wants to give them an espresso!). In these times, the kids and I might take a step outside if it’s a nice day or put on some eighties music and begin a short practice chock-full of energizing breathing exercises (pranayama) and invigorating poses that beat the proverbial cup of joe.
A good rule of thumb is that any of the poses that generate heat, or cause you to sweat, are energizing. Even more specifically, backbends in their very nature of representational extroversion are entirely energizing and good for our chronically slumped frames to boot. Try the following sequence if you or your children find yourselves in a midday slump and without access to your favorite roasted bean.
· Start in cat/cow to warm up the muscles along your spine and to avoid overstretching. It is one of the most versatile poses, acceptable and adaptable for most everybody, and really helps for those who suffer from back pain. Beginning on hands and knees, inhale. As you exhale, turn your tailbone and head toward the ground as you create space between each vertebra by arching your back (cat). As you inhale, begin looking upwards, dropping your belly toward the ground, and lifting the posterior of your pelvis and tailbone towards the sky (cow). Continue for a few rounds following the guidance of your breath.
· Flow into tiger and sunbird for an energizing (and challenging) core strengthener. From table and beginning with your right foot, inhale and lift your right foot/leg straight behind you. Engage your core and maintain your leg’s position toward the midline of your body. When you are ready, lift your left arm straight out in front of you keeping your belly braced and your appendages within the midline of your body-as if your arm and leg were an extension of the lengthened spine. On your next inhale, flow into sunbird by lifting your foot toward your head and your hand toward your foot, grasping it. Push your foot into your hand. Protect your back by drawing your naval into your spine with each exhale and lifting at the chest and neck. Slowly flow out of the pose, press back into child’s pose for a few breaths, and repeat on the opposite side.
· Lastly, come up to hero’s pose on your knees. Take a deep breath and lift your arms above your head. As you exhale, place your hands on your lower back, elbows facing behind you, shoulder blades pressed together, and tilt the top of your pelvis and lower belly outward, moving into camel pose. Take a deep breath and turn your gaze upwards just a bit. Slowly exhale into extended child’s pose.
· To end the sequence, do a round of alternate nostril breathing. Place your pinky finger over one nostril and inhale in the opposite, take your thumb to cover the opposite nostril as you exhale and then switch. Repeat for a total of five times. It may feel funny at first, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t want to stop.
This ten minute mini-practice will revitalize you all in the time it takes to brew a cup of coffee. So, if you need energy pronto, just turn to yoga! Looking for more heart-opening, energizing, backbending poses? Check out our other blog posts.