We’ve all been there—the fog of rising early in the morning, the slump that hits us right after lunch, the daze of being unable to make another step in the direction of our dreams because we ARE exhausted.
Yoga is often used to calm down and relax in our overstimulated lives. But can it help us stay awake as well? I give you a resounding “Hell YES!” Below are some yoga poses and techniques that show how.
Upward-Facing Salute – Urdhva Hastasana
Urdhva Hastasana is the first pose we do because it is a natural posture your body does when you want to wake up. You will notice that when you yawn or stretch your body in the morning, the shape of Urdhva Hastasana appears. Your arms are lifted over your head, and your chest and belly stretch out.
Urdhva hastasana is no exception. They all have the same benefits. They stimulate your sympathetic nervous and increase your energy. Imagine being startled. You gasp, you throw your arms over your head, and you arch your back. This startling reaction prepares you for a confrontation or even to run away. Or, it might help you get through the 2 pm meeting.
Breath of joy
This breathing technique was popularized by the author Yoga For Depression. It helps us to increase our breath capacity and move beyond shallow upper-chest breathing.
It’s powerful to sweep your arms across the room, breathe deeply in three short bursts, and then exhale loudly while bowing in front. This breath will get your blood flowing and your brain working.
Downward Facing Dog -Adho Mukha Svanasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana offers a great counter pose to the other backbends in this article. It strengthens your arms and legs, stretches your spine, and allows you to bring your head down below your heart.
This mild inversion increases blood flow to the brain and will energize your entire body. From here, advanced yogis can jump into a full handstand to experience the powerful effects of an inversion.
Viparita Virabhadrasana – Reverse/Exalted Warriors Pose
This pose will reinforce the idea that a deep breath is more powerful than a double-shot espresso. Viparita Virabhadrasana helps stretch the intercostal muscles that are located between your ribs. These muscles can restrict your ability to breathe deeply if they’re not hurt.
The pose also energizes the lower body, stretching your hips and groins as well as strengthening your legs. Bonus: Enjoy the pose from both sides for a double wake-up.
Natarajasana – Dancer Pose
Natarajasana combines the benefits of backbends with the added focus of standing on one leg. Finding your guide and maintaining balance will teach you that drifting off to sleep and closing your eyes is not the best option right now.
The next time you struggle to open your widest eyes and breathe deeply, I hope that you turn to yoga. It’s a powerful practice with many benefits, which will leave you ready for what lies ahead.