Here in Roaming Yogi land, we have been exploring the theme of vitality throughout the month of August. So if you’re wondering how you can increase energy – increase vitality – read on, my friend!
Before we dive into how we can increase vitality, let’s discuss what vitality means. Why do we want to increase it?
Vitality is energy; it is life force. In yoga, we refer to this vital energy as prana. It’s that vibrant energy that animates all things. That spark inside of all of us that lights us up.
So when we think about increasing vitality, we’re also talking about increasing energy. Feeling a bit more vibrant and alive. There are a number of different ways we can do this…below are four.
Increase Vitality Through Movement
Strong movement is one way to tap into that sense of vitality and energy. In particular, poses and movements that help us tap into the core – to the manipura chakra.
The manipura chakra is located at the solar plexus (center of the core) and it is the chakra of action; of doing. The element for this chakra is fire, and fire is energy! Tapping into this space is one way to increase energy and vitality.
Strong poses, like arm balances, are also great for conjuring that feeling of aliveness. What’s more energizing than balancing on your hands?!
To explore the theme of vitality with some strong movement and a couple of arm balances – crow pose and side crow – join me for the practice below!
Increase Energy Through Breath
Another way to tap into vitality is through the use of the breath with some pranayama.
Pranayama is commonly known as breath control, or breathwork, but it’s truly so much more than that. The word prana is a Sanskrit word for ‘vital energy’ or ‘life force’ – it is the energy that animates all things.
Prana is closely linked to vitality because it is through increased or invigorated prana that we can increase vitality within us.
You might have noticed that the word prana is half of the word pranayama, and that is because the two are inextricably linked. The latter half of the word pranayama is Sanskrit for ‘control’ or ‘expansion’. So pranayama is the control or expansion of vital energy or life force.
The breath is the physical manifestation of prana. So…the more expansive your breath = the more expansive your prana = more vitality!
To experience this in action, join me for the pranayama practice below. In it, we’ll be coming into three pranayama practices – kapalabhati, or skull shining breath, bhastrika, or bellows breath, and ujjayi, or victorious breath.
Kapalabhati and Bhastrika are very similar and they are both very powerful breaths. If at any point you feel light-headed or dizzy, please stop and come into a natural breath.
Below are a few contraindications for kapalbhati and bhastrika – if any of the following apply to you, please take these very slowly or skip them altogether:
High or low blood pressure, heart disease, hernia, gastric ulcer, epilepsy, vertigo, migraine headaches, significant nosebleeds, detached retina, glaucoma, history of stroke, or if you have undergone recent abdominal surgery.
I encourage to really tune into your energy in this practice – before, during, and after the pranayama practices.
Kundalini for Vitality
For something a little different, but certainly energizing, try some Kundalini yoga!
The practice of Kundalini yoga is extremely dynamic. It incorporates movement, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, and the chanting of mantras. The goal of Kundalini yoga is to build physical vitality and increase consciousness.
The Sanskrit word Kundalini means “coiled snake”, and it refers to a spiritual energy or life force (prana/shakti) located at the base of the spine (the muladhara, or root chakra).
The practice of Kundalini yoga is meant to arouse the sleeping Kundalini energy from its coiled position at the base of the spine. Doing so allows it to travel up through the six chakras along the length of the spine to the crown, ultimately bringing us to enlightenment.
Because we’re dealing with the movement of prana, the breath is of vital importance. Remember, the breath is the physical manifestation of prana, so if we want to move prana, we’ve got to move the breath.
Want to try it out in a Kundalini-inspired flow? The practice below contains some of the dynamic elements that make up the Kundalini practice, but not all of them. It is by no means a full-blown Kundalini class.
If you want to dive more deeply into Kundalini, I suggest checking out Brett Larkin’s YouTube channel – she has tons of Kundalini on there!
In the practice below, we’ll be starting with some seated pranayama combined with simple movement, and then we’ll be taking that breathwork into some standing poses.
We’ll be revisiting Kapalabhati in this practice. If you’re unfamiliar with Kapalabhati, be sure to check out the pranayama practice above.
Increase Energy in Stillness
Another beautiful way to increase vitality and energy is through meditation.
While the theme of vitality lends itself quite well to movement and breath because we can physically feel that sense of energy within us, we can also tap into it in stillness.
When you’ve explored the practices above, and really felt that sense of vitality in your body, try the meditation practice below and work on tapping into those sensations with the mind.
The mind is a powerful thing, and left to its own devices, it can begin to control us. But with practice, we can exert control over the mind, which in turn gives us control over our entire perspective.
The more we practice directing the mind in a controlled environment (like meditation), the easier it becomes to direct the mind when we’re out and about in the world.
So the practice below is all about utilizing the mind to bring about that sense of vitality and energy, even when we’re sitting in stillness and quiet. To tap into prana, even when we’re not manipulating the breath or flowing on our mats.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these vitality practices and that they’ve brought a sense of increased energy to your body, mind, and spirit.
What are some of your favorite ways to feel more energized and vibrant? Share with me in the comments!