My energy tends to wane around 4pm everyday, and I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve figured out that just as I need to eat several times a day to stay energized, I need to move and do yoga throughout the day to maintain my energy. If I don’t want to yawn as I greet my children coming home from school, then I need some afternoon asana. The problem is time. There’s always so much to do — laundry to fold, food to prepare, dishes to wash, appointments to be made, bills to be paid, blogs to write — that self-care doesn’t feel like a priority. But, I have to remind myself, it is a priority! And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You can transform how you feel in just 3 minutes. Here are 5 quick Kundalini techniques to help you get over that afternoon slump. Choose one and feel the difference for the rest of your day!
1. Energy Boost Breath – This breath is a great blast of energy for when you’re really, really flagging. To perform this breath, you sit tall in easy pose, block the left nostril with the left thumb, and do breath of fire through the right nostril only. Continue for three to five minutes. The yogis say the left side of the body channels the relaxing or lunar energy, whereas the right side of the body hones the energizing or solar energy. For me, initially it was difficult to maintain breath of fire through one nostril for the whole three minutes. If this is the case for you, just work up to it — gradually increasing the time. (This breath, along with many, many others, can be found in the manual Praana, Praanee, Praanayam: Exploring the Breath Technology of Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan.)
2. Stretch pose- One minute of stretch pose brings instant gratification. Always challenging, it activates the navel and the thyroid. Come lying on the back with the hands either tucked under the hips to support the lower back or raised along the sides of the body. Lift the feet six inches off the floor, raise the head, keep the eyes open looking straight at your toes and do breath of fire. Go for one minute. You can do it! There’s always a way through. To modify, you can lower the head if the neck hurts, or only raise one foot at a time. To finish, inhale and retain the breath and hold the legs up for a few seconds more and then relax. As soon as you lower the legs, you’ll feel the energy you’ve created. Tune in to it!
3. Frogs– Twenty-six frogs will get your heart pumping. (Caution to anyone with a knee injury: skip this one or modify so you have NO PAIN.) To do this pose, come into a squat with the feet and knees turned out, the heels lifted and together, and the fingertips on the floor in front of you. As you inhale, straighten the legs and bring the head close to the knees. Then, exhale and return to the original position. You can use a yoga block under the hands to bring the floor closer if you’d like.
4. Camel pose – For me, the afternoon slump is just what it sounds like. After hours in front of the computer, my shoulders start to round forward and my spine collapses. This slumpy posture is enervating. So backbending postures are so important and opening the heart and feeling more expansive enlivens me. You can do any backbending posture — cobra, bow, or wheel. My personal favorite is camel pose. Kneel in rock pose, lift the hips and arch back to grab your heels with your hands. Let the head fall back if that’s comfortable for the neck and do breath of fire for one to two minutes. If you don’t have the flexibility to reach the heels, you can try tucking the toes under to bring the heels a little higher or placing the hands on the lower back. (Camel pose, frogs, and stretch pose can be found in the wonderful Kundalini primer: Kundalini Yoga: Unlock Your Inner Potential Through Life-Changing Exercise by Shakta Kaur Khalsa.)
5. Chant -In my opinion, you can chant anything that inspires you, and you’ll feel great. But a fabulous moving meditation with mantra is Open the Heart. You chant the mantra Sat Kartar, which carries the uplifting message of the soul, the heart, love in action. The yogis say that the soul resides directly behind the heart. As you chant “sat,” you press the hands together in prayer at the heart center; as you chant “kar,” you open the hands just beyond the shoulders with the palms facing out and elbows bent; as you chant “tar,” you press the arms out straight to the sides with the hands flexed, palms to the walls. Just three minutes will make a difference. You can chant along with a track created specifically for this meditation by an artist whose spiritual name happens to be…. Sat Kartar: Open the Heart by Sat Kartar.