As you may already know, I’m been cutting way back on my caffeine intake recently. When the killer caffeine withdrawal headaches finally subsided, I though all would be well. Unfortunately, weeks later I’m still lacking that extra oomph that used to get me through drowsy mornings, afternoon slumps, tough writing assignments, creative projects, and pretty much anything else I need to do.
It’s easy to blame my lack of energy on ending my coffee habit, but let’s be real: Even when I was allowing myself as many magical beverages as my heart desired (I’m talking about coffee, obviously, though I would never deny the magical powers red wine!), there were still more moments than I’d like where I couldn’t muster the energy to make dinner, pick up the toys, answer the emails… the list goes on.
See also A Yoga Practice for Mommy Brain
There are many reasons that mamas feel drained of our energy by the end of the day—demanding jobs, demanding kids, the wrong kinds of foods, imbalanced hormones, overstimulation, and a go-go-go lifestyle all play a role. While coffee, concealer, and energizing yoga poses are good band-aids for the exhaustion that comes with a busy day, a good, regular self-care routine can offer a long-term solution.
So, if you’re tired of being tired all the time, be sure you spend some time checking in with yourself to figure out where you can make more room in your schedule for the things that really leave you feeling restored and revived and make them a non-negotiable part of your routine. Ask yourself the important questions: When was the last time I did something for ME? Am I hungry? Did I get enough rest last night? Am I trying to be Super Mom again? Do I need to sloooooooow down?
Luckily, even when you’re cutting back on coffee or neglecting your self-care routine, a short, mindful yoga practice can be a wonderful way to give you a quick boost of energy when you need it.
Here’s a quick practice that I use often to get me through. I hope it helps you, too.
My Favorite Yoga Poses for Energy
Energizing Yoga Breathing
It sounds too good to be true. But when you’re feeling low energy, sometimes all you need to do is give yourself a few extra slow, deep breaths. Focusing on the inhale can give you extra energy because it’s a great way to get extra oxygen to your brain. It’s like a yawn, but way more effective.
Try this: Close your eyes and take a few regular breaths just to check in and see what your breathing pattern currently is. Then, breathe slowly through the nostrils. Make your inhale as slow and smooth as you possibly can. Exhale fully. Repeat at least 5 times.
Sometimes just a little movement can get your blood pumping and give you the energy you need. It can be as simple this: Start standing tall. Inhaling your arms up over head. Exhale as you fold forward, bringing your fingertips to the floor or a block. Inhale as you reach your chest forward, collarbones wide. Exhale, keep your spine long as you fold in again. Inhale, and stand up the same way you bent down. Go slow and keep the rhythm of the breath steady. Lather, rinse, repeat.
*Pregnancy modification for Sun Salutations: Keep you feet at least hip distance apart or even wider so you don’t compress the belly during Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend).
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Backbends are fabulous energy boosters. They naturally speed up the heart rate and the breath and are a naturally stimulating to the body’s systems. I love Ustrasana because just a few breaths can make such a big difference. And, if you practice it gently, it doesn’t take a ton of prep work like some deeper backbends.
Try this: Kneel on your mat with your hips stacked directly over your knees. Bring your hands to your sacrum (fingers pointed upward) and hug your elbows toward each other behind you so your collar bones are wide. With an inhale, lift your chest upward. With an exhale, soften. Stay here for a couple breaths, then lift yourself back up with an inhale. Then, sit on your heels to rest. Repeat 2-3 more times.
*Pregnancy modification for Ustrasana: Keep the belly soft and avoid over-stretching by focusing the stretch in the upper back and chest area. Think of lifting the sternum bone upward instead of bending backward and don’t over-do it. You want to be able to breathe comfortably the whole time.
Downward Facing Dog
Inversions (even mild ones like Down Dog) are said to bring fresh, oxygenated blood to your brain, which can refresh the brain and result in clearer thinking and more energy. Downward Dog is also a great stretch for your back, legs, arms, it’s kind of a catch-all pose that’s good for everything. (Of course, if you have a practice of another inversion you like better, go for it. But please don’t put yourself at risk for falling if you’re a pregnant mama.)
Try this: From hands and knees, spread your fingers wide, tuck your toes under, and lift your hips up high and press them back. Keep your knees bent slightly to find maximum length in the spine. Relax the neck and let the head hang. Stay here for at least 5 breaths.
Savasana (Final Resting Pose)
Don’t underestimate the power for a 5-minute Savasana. It’s the ultimate pose for energy boost.
Of course, you are supposed to do a little Savasana at the end of every yoga class, but I’ve found that nothing is more energizing than a little Savasana time strategically placed right smack dab in the middle of my day (or any time when I’m feeling overwhelmed or drained).
Try this: Lie down on your back. Stretch your legs out in front of you. Let your feet flop open like a book. Turn your palms to face upward, in a gesture of receiving. Close your eyes. Breathe. Be. Imagine every breath is slowly filling up your energy reserve. Stay here for 5 minutes (set a timer if you need to).
Pregnancy modification for Savasana: After you enter the second trimester, it’s not a good idea to lay flat on your back. So, pregnant mamas will take their Savasana on their left sides, or propped up a bit. (See How to Use Yoga Props to Get Comfy in Restorative Yoga Poses.)