A 20-Minute Practice That Will Give You Loads More Energy
Do you feel a lull in your energy level at around 3 or 4 p.m.? Do you feel just burnt out at the beginning of the day and does that feeling seem to increase in the afternoon?
As an Ayurveda practitioner, I find that drop in energy in the late afternoon is common and very understandable. Ayurveda is an ancient form of healing from India (commonly referred to as yoga’s “sister science”), which recognizes the time between 3 and 5 p.m. as kidney and adrenal time. In Ayurveda, we believe these organs are connected to things like stress and energy. So when you feel a drop in energy or any other common patterns that occur during this time, you should look at them as clues about how those organ systems are doing.
When you start feeling this way, I encourage you to try the practice of yoga nidra, or “yogic sleep,” which is about attaining a state of relaxation. While the ancient practice in its original form is a very deep practice that takes time, guidance, and practice to perfect to its truest form, just about anyone can benefit from the basic elements. They can help you to create a calmer nervous system, provide a boost in energy, and give you greater mental focus and clarity.
Perfect for 4 p.m., right? Here’s how you do it:
1. Have a yoga mat or small blanket stored near your desk. Fold it in half and place it on the floor next to your chair.
2. Lie on your back with your legs propped up on your chair. (Embarrassed? Just do it and you’ll find many others in your office joining you in a week or two!)
3. Begin with your hands on your belly. Breathe deeply into your belly so that your hands rise. Keep your breath slow and relaxed.
4. Take your attention to your right foot. Relax the muscles and nerves of the foot. Move to the right knee, right thigh, and right hip, repeating the relaxation process. Become aware of the whole leg in its relaxed and passive state. Repeat this on your left leg.
5. Take your attention to your genitals, abdomen, chest, and then throat, consciously relaxing the muscles and nerves of each area. Then move to the right arm (beginning with the hand) and left arm.
6. Relax the forehead, the cheeks, the jaw, the crown of the head, and the back of the neck.
7. Breathe deeply. Observe the entire body as a distant observer. Feel the weight of the body on the ground. Watch the breath go into the belly and then out the nose.
8. Slowly become aware of your surroundings and the room you are in. Gently wiggle your toes and fingertips, becoming aware of your body. When you are ready, gently rise and sit up.
9. Rub your hands together and then rub your face. Gently open your eyes.
It is not uncommon for people to actually fall asleep. I certainly did all the time when I started this practice, and have found that it occurs more often the more exhausted I am. Do not feel defeated! It is still not wasted time! I feel more refreshed and vibrant after that short 20-minute nap that begins with the above process than I do after any three-hour nap or cup of coffee. With time you will be able to be conscious more of the time.
If you are unable to lie on the floor, try doing the same practice sitting upright in your chair. If you meet resistance at work, ask your adversaries to just let you try it for a week or two and ask them to see the changes in your mood and productivity for themselves! Also consider hanging a “Do not disturb” sign for those 20 minutes.
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