100% Energy Charge Yoga Warm-Up

What if we say the key to making it to your mat on days when you’re dragging is making like Tarzan and pounding your chest? Try Lauren Walker's two-minute method to wake up your mind and motivation. Plus, don't miss her Energy Medicine Yoga classes at Yoga Journal LIVE Colorado (Sept. 22-25). Get tickets now.

  • Every yogi probably knows the feeling. You want to practice, but you really don’t. You’re dragging. How about a date with the couch? Recharging rest has its place, but what if you could plug in and find energy right on your mat to carry you through your practice and beyond? A Montana-based teacher has a unique approach to supercharge your practice—and your life—in her new book Energy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice. Author Lauren Walker invites you to enter an energy portal where you can turn on your body’s secret switches.

    “All the benefits in your yoga practice increase exponentially,” she says. “I practice for far less time now, but I’m able to do more with the energy work. What I’ve noticed is more well-being and peace and just feeling more energized.”

  • What Is Energy Medicine Yoga?

    What Is Energy Medicine Yoga?

    Walker marries Tantra Yoga, as learned from her teacher Rod Stryker, with Eden Energy Medicine, developed by Energy Medicine author Donna Eden. Eden’s practice taps into the nadis, the chakras, the meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and other ancient body maps. Walker says her practice, Energy Medicine Yoga, can help remedy everything from the doldrums to full-blown disease. When you learn to shift the way energy flows in your body, there’s the potential to boost stamina, balance your immune system, and recover from emotional trauma, she says.

    Walker’s practice incorporates “taps,” “handholds,” and other energy techniques right into a yoga sequence. Sound newfangled? The practices are ancient, actually—and as primitive as beating your chest, like Tarzan.

    See also Beginner's Guide to the Chakras

  • Thump + Cross Warm-Up

    Thump + Cross Warm-Up

    “Thumping,” as Walker calls the gorilla-like chest pound, and “crossing” are two pre-practice exercises that Walker calls key to waking up your energy and powering your body on for your practice. “It’s like trying to use your iPhone without turning it on,” she says. “You can press all the buttons you want but you’re not going to make a phone call. Literally, if your energies aren’t working in an optimal way, you’re working at 50% of your capacity.” See if 2 minutes practicing the following sequence leaves you feeling 100% charged for your yoga practice.

    “Thump and cross will change your life!” Walker says. “But you have to do it with consistency. Like the Yoga Sutras say: ‘Practice for a long time with no break and in all earnestness.’ You can’t just do it once and say ‘oh it didn’t work.’ Thumping and crossing starts to retrain energy patterns to work in their optimal flow.”

    Try it rolling out of bed on a groggy morning, before a meeting with your boss on a hazy afternoon, and of course preceding your more traditional round of practice warm-up, Surya Namaskar.

  • Four Thumps

    Four Thumps

    “Thumping is the language of the body,” Walker says. “Everything pulses. [By thumping], we are waking up the meridian energy.” Thumping is pretty much just what it sounds like. You do need to know where to thump, though, to work with the TCM meridians and amplify your energy.

    Thump Points

    The simple answer is to beat your chest like an ape, and you’ll likely cover the first three points. But we're going to walk you through them with a bit more nuance than that in this sequence.

    Technique

    Join the tips of your first two fingers with your thumb and thump with strong pressure as if knocking on a friend’s door—kindly but firmly. You can also experiment with massaging to see if that works better for you. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

  • Thump One

    Thump One

    Benefit

    This exercise activates the end points of the kidney meridian, increasing vital life force energy. (That's what we know as prana in yoga and chi in acupuncture.) Working on these points can jumpstart your whole energy system, making you more alert and focused. Try thumping here when you're having a hard time concentrating.

    How To

    Massage or drum the meridian points at the slight hollows underneath the ends of your collarbones. Find the bony rounds by following your collarbones to their inner corners. Move down about an inch into the depressions beneath them. You may have to move your fingers out toward your shoulders a bit. Once you’ve found tender spots, start thumping!

  • Thump Two

    Thump Two

    Benefit

    Tapping here activates the thymus gland and bolsters your immune system and overall vitality.

    How To

    Tap or massage the thymus gland at the center of your sternum, about three to four inches below your collarbones.

  • Thump Three

    Thump Three

    Benefit

    Working these meridians activates the spleen points and will not only wake you up, but also help you digest a meal or a challenging experience.

    How To

    The spleen points are at the sides of the breasts, about four inches down from the armpits. A second set are just under the breasts. Walker recommends thumping or massaging the triangular-shape ribcage band around the breasts to make sure you activate these spots. Work the sore places.

  • Thump Four

    Thump Four

    Benefit

    This is the end of the stomach meridian, which helps ground the energy you’ve awakened with the first three points.

    How To

    These points on the face warrant more gentleness. Lightly drum the cheekbones below the center of the eyes, in line with your iris.

  • Crossing

    Crossing

    As babies, we don’t think about how to crawl. We just naturally move the left arm with the right leg and the right arm with the left leg. Next we walk, instinctively syncing up left and right. These actions help our brain develop a crossover pattern where each hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body. Through stress, trauma, illness, or even a sedentary lifestyle, though, the brain can get scrambled and lose that pattern essential for wellness.

    Walker has a simple exercise to revive it. She says it’s based on “crossing” practices from traditions around the world, including Donna Eden’s Celtic Weave, the Tibetan energy ring, the crosses at the bases of the seven chakras, and the caduceus, the entwined serpents on the staff.

  • Cross Crawl

    Cross Crawl

    How To

    1. Lift your left leg and strike it with your left hand. Then raise your right leg and touch it with your right hand. Same-side leg and hand together. Repeat 10 to 12 times. Then brush your hands together like you’re dusting them off. Walker says this tricks the energies to take a pause so you can retrain them.
    2. Begin your march again, this time using your hand to strike the opposite knee. Right hand to left leg and left hand to right leg. Raise your arms as far overhead as possible. Pick up the pace of your march. Repeat 12 times.
    3. Repeat Step 1 and Step 2 three times, while inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

    Modification: If you’re unable to stand, you can modify, by sitting in a chair and moving only your arms to your legs.

    Rebecca Tolin is a freelance writer, journalist, and documentary filmmaker living in San Diego. Contact her at www.facebook.com/rebecca.tolin or rebeccatolin@yahoo.com.
    Photo credit: Michael Myers