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It can be incredibly challenging to keep your eyes open, especially if your body is listless, your mind dull, or your heart heavy. This practice will help awaken your energy for meditation. Remember, the focus here is not on alignment but on moving with the breath, specifically the inhalation: progressively lengthening the inhalations, inhaling in stages, and pausing before exhaling. Holding the breath for a moment after an inhalation can extend the energizing effect of the inhalation on both the mind and the body. However, do this with caution: If your breath becomes agitated at any point, return to a comfortable, natural rhythm, and keep your exhalation equal to or longer than your inhalation.
Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), with palms together at your heart in Anjali Mudra. Feel your thumbs rise and fall against your chest as you breathe in and out normally. Gently deepen your inhalations and lengthen your exhalations for several breaths.
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On an inhalation, sweep your arms out and up to Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute), with your chest open and chin lifted, while gathering your energy and focusing it inward. Then exhale, lowering your palms to your heart in Mountain Pose. Repeat 3 times, each time increasing the length of your inhalation. Do another 3 rounds, staying for 1, 2, and then 3 breaths in Upward Salute.
Next, come onto your hands and knees in Tabletop. On an exhalation, stretch back into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). On an exhalation, come forward into Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose). Finally, exhale and come back into Downward-Facing Dog, then inhale to come down to your hands and knees again. Repeat this series 3 times, staying for 1, 2, and finally 3 breaths when in Cobra to build strength, stamina, and energy.
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Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest Pose) is a counterpose for backbends, but it also helps ground the energy created during the previous poses. Lie on your back with your hands on bent knees and feet off the floor. Slowly exhale, bringing your belly toward your spine and hugging your knees in toward your chest. With an inhalation, return to the starting position. Do 6 rounds.
Enjoy a 5-minute Savasana (Corpse Pose) before moving on to sit for pranayama and meditation.
FIND YOUR BREATH
Surya Bhedana Pranayama (Solar Breath)
Solar Breath will help you feel alert for seated meditation. Begin by noticing your natural breath, then gently lengthen your exhalations and deepen your inhalations until you find a comfortable rhythm. Breathe in through the right nostril while closing the left, then out through the left while closing the right. Pause between inhalations and exhalations. Do 12 rounds and then return to your natural breath.
Keep in mind that this type of strong, energizing practice may keep you awake at night if done in the evening. If you are tired but want to sit for meditation before bedtime, begin with an energizing practice and then move into a calming one