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Beat the Midday Blues: 3-Step Mindful Energy Boost
by Tarra Madore
Arms Down- Front and Back (A and B)
The physical practice of yoga has been gaining popularity in the United States over the past several years. However, we often mistake the physical practice done at a gym for yoga when, in fact, yoga is more a way of life. Yoga doesn’t have to be a formal practice done only in designated areas such as gyms and studios. Going through your day with mindfulness and awareness on your actions and movements is also a way to integrate yoga into the fabric of your life.
When you are feeling tired, pressured or just need an energy boost, instead of reaching for a chocolate bar or a cup/can of caffeine – try a little yoga. Even if you have less than 10 minutes, you have enough time to practice yoga. It will increase the oxygen in your body and mind and you will feel better. This can help you focus and increase your energy to help you accomplish more – with enthusiasm! You can do this anywhere; and please don’t worry if your friends or co-workers see you. Invite them to join you – they just may thank you when they experience yoga’s energy boosting effects.
Arms Up- Front and Back (C and D)
1 It is best to practice yoga in bare feet, so slip off your shoes if possible. Stand with your feet a small hip width apart. Lift your toes and spread them apart. Put them down. Root down through the balls of your big toes, your inner heels, where the little toe of each foot meets the ball of the foot and your outer heels. Feel grounded and rooted. Now lift or energize the muscles of your legs. Lengthen up through the crown of your head. Lift your shoulders up and back and anchor your shoulder blades to your back. (See Photos A and B) The chin lifts slightly. Take a nice, slow, full breath and allow your abdomen and chest to expand; then slowly let the breath out.
2 To increase your energy level, turn your palms out to the side, keeping your shoulder blades anchored on your back. Inhale and sweep your arms out to the side and up. You can take a few breaths here. Lift just as much through your thumbs as you do through your pinky fingers. Turn your pinkies toward each other and slide your shoulder blades down your back (the shoulders stay up and back). (See Photos C and D) Exhale and lower your arms to your side. You can take a few breaths with this motion – inhale arms up and exhale arms down. Remember to keep the chin slightly lifted.
Arms Forward- Back (E)
A little awareness goes a long way. Even though this is non-weight bearing movement in the arms, you will still strengthen your upper body, especially the muscles between the shoulder blades. When we spend a lot of time on the computer, reading, studying or carrying kids we tend to become rounded through the upper back with the head forward. When we don’t pay attention to this, it leads to the dreaded humpback posture common in older age.
3 Beginning in the same standing position, sweep the arms up just like before. With an exhale bring your arms in front of you to shoulder height with your palms facing forward. Bring your shoulders up and back. (See Photo E) You can feel the bottom tips of your shoulder blades begin to come forward on your back. Stay upright and strong, chin still lifted to keep space between the chin and the chest. Take a slow breath in, and with your exhale, bend your elbows toward your ribcage, so your thumbs come next to your chest (about mid-chest). (See Photos F and G) With your inhale, bring your arms down. You can repeat this sequence a few times.
Hands next to Shoulders- Front and Back (F and G)
For those familiar with yoga, this fun energy boosting sequence is similar to a Sun Salutation, but can easily be done anywhere without needing a mat or props. We all know that regular physical exercise is important, but it is great for you to keep your body moving throughout the day – not just at designated workout times. In fact, studies have shown that taking short breaks during work or studying can improve memory and concentration without the calories or negative side effects of energy drinks or other caffeinated items. So the next time the café is calling, try turning that coffee break into a yoga break! You’ll feel more uplifted. When you feel better, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges of your day mindfully and with enthusiasm.
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About the Author
Tarra Piparo Madore is a yoga instructor and retired chiropractor who has studied at Palmer College of Chiropractic, Himalayan Institute and most recently with senior certified Anusara teachers Naime Jezzeny and Sue Elkind. She is Director of Inner Light Yoga Center in North Brunswick, NJ and is also Co-Publisher and Creative Director for New Jersey Namaste News magazine.