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How to Use Yoga to Increase Energy

I read, reflect, and integrate the topic of how to increase energy. Occasionally I teach this process in private settings or during workshops and wonder if I can inspire personal study, reflection, and integration on the subject in just a few words. I’ve decided that I won’t know until I try. So, here goes…

In our culture, we tend to value what is tangible and what can be measured over the subtle and abstract. Examples include fullness, stability, and effort over emptiness, ease, and nonattachment. If we only focus on fullness, stability, and effort in the form of full schedules, hard work, and determination, we run the risk of becoming rigid, which leads to the depletion of energy.

The process of identifying and balancing opposites brings lasting energy.

The following is an introduction to this subject and is designed to create curiosity for personal exploration.

How to Balance Opposites for Lasting Energy include:

  • Fullness versus Emptiness

  • Stability versus Ease

  • Effort versus Non-attachment

Fullness and Emptiness

Balancing fullness with emptiness begins with small things such as eating until we are 80% full, leaving a little space/emptiness in the belly and noticing how we feel more energized from this practice compared to when we eat until we are full to the top, which tends to create heaviness and sluggishness. With practice, this awareness reminds us to bring this type of attitude to all of our consumption. In addition, by being aware of the spaces in between things and seeing how when a drawer or a closet is full to the top we can’t easily find what we need, which is a mirror for our schedules, we learn to leave a little space/emptiness in between things for integration and automatically increase our energy levels.

Stability and Ease

Stability is connected to the innate sense of security. In my classes I often say “there is no flexibility without stability, reminding us that if we want to create space we need to have something to push off from. One of the Sanskrit words for health is swastha, which means to be established in the Self; a grounding connection with who we are. We can see that stability is considered an essential component to health, energy and happiness, but if it’s not balanced with a willingness to lighten up the grounding energy starts to pull us downward and what was initially designed to support us, becomes depleting. Balancing stability with ease can be as simple as smiling more as smiling creates a natural opening, which changes the quality of the breath and how we choose to look at life. Balancing stability with ease can also be done by choosing to be curious where we would have otherwise chosen judgment. Bringing ease is also about valuing relaxation as a source of energy.

Effort and Non-Attachment

Effort is about showing up. It’s about moving beyond instant sense gratification and working towards what we value rather than sit back and wish. Effort is important as it creates the energy we need to move forward, but without nonattachment it can lead to burnouts. From a yoga perspective, nonattachment is an essential component of healthy effort. Nonattachment is what allows us to release expectations, therefore, experience the beauty of what is actually arising. Nonattachment that is balanced with effort, stability and ease is what creates a willingness to take a risk and explore what makes us feel alive. Knowing that the journey is the goal we reduce self-imposed pressure and experience more energy.

Ways to begin exploring nonattachment include letting go of clothing, books, and objects we don’t wear or use. Eventually, we can even start to let go of expectations, but it’s a process that begins with little steps based on individual starting points. To begin, we must first know what we are attached to and how it’s serving us. Another common example of the benefits of nonattachment is imagining ourselves holding something light in our hands, let's say a book, and imagining holding this book for hours, maybe days. The longer we hold on, the heavier it gets.

I want to emphasize that this is only an introduction to the subject, and it's written with the assumption that fullness, stability, and effort are the priority, which is not always the case. In addition, it's lacking an in-depth discussion of what each polarity means and it's important to know that they can all be applied to daily life, but also to more subtle aspects of our personal journey.

The fascinating exploration of the play of opposites doesn’t stop here, though, and can also include hot & cold, nourishing and cleansing, ascending and descending, and expansion and contraction. Yoga classes and posture sequences offer an interplay of all of these opposites. One of the reasons why yoga asana feels so good.

If you want to learn more and find ways to integrate this in your life, consider working with Sylvie.

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