In this day and age of busyness and distraction: clear, alert and steady thinking can benefit us. A body that feels fluid, strong and awake is a benefit too. If we have these mental and physical qualities we’ll also have a certain kind of personal vibrancy.
A wired and distracted mind makes it challenging to get work done. A body that feels sluggish, achy and tired is a huge inconvenience when you’re wanting to get work done. If these qualities are showing up mentally and physically, it’s hard to accomplish the detailed jobs that life requires.
With everything that’s on our plate from day to day: taking care of others, getting the good work done, managing the unexpected variables and planning for the future – it would certainly be a benefit to have mind and body at their optimal potential in order to surf the complicated scenarios that arise.
Possessing consistently vibrant mental and physical energy offers us a boon of benefits and a desirable quality of life. The question becomes: How do I create more of the desirable and less of the undesirable? In order to answer that we have to get real about the results of our actions.
KARMA AND FULFILLMENT
The law of karma teaches us that every action we take creates a result in our life, it’s the principle of “cause and effect”. The point is to learn what’s working for us and what isn’t; when we discover what isn’t working we need to adjust our actions. If we ignore the negative effects and repeat the same actions we’ll create additional suffering for ourselves (we dig our hole deeper). But if we recognize what isn’t working and adjust our behavior accordingly we can begin to get out of the rut and into our groove. As a result we experience growth cycles, we blossom and we thrive! Rinse and repeat.
The “rinse and repeat” are the actions that ARE working. When we discover what works well for us we can identify the non-negotiable routines that we require in order to have the kind of vibrancy we desire on a daily/weekly basis. When it comes to what’s negotiable and what isn’t, I like to look at two different aspects:
#1 What’s non-negotiable in order to fulfill the roles I have within my family and society?
#2 What do I need to do in order to perform #1 while also feeling good in my body and fulfilled at the end of the day? Note: This is a practice; I don’t get it right on target everyday but I do know what I’m aiming for and I’m willing to keep refining.
Most of us have #1 dialed in; we’ve been mentored and educated in these lessons since we were young. It’s #2 that often gets overlooked. Much of the work I do is all about helping people dial in their personal habits so that they know the answer to #2.
When added together 1 + 2 tends to fit into the following categories.
- Play (pleasure + community + movement)
- Work (what I’m creating + money)
- Hearth and Home (food + shelter + family)
If we’re over focused in some areas and ignoring others it’s likely that our mental/physical energy will be off.
Let’s take a deeper look at play. The body and mind require pleasure, movement and connection in order to thrive.
FOR VIBRANCY, PRIME THE PUMP
We have a biological need for movement; if we get a dose of movement in the morning we will maximize our potential to have consistent levels of mental and physical energy throughout the day. This morning movement doesn’t have to be very long, 15 to 20 minutes is enough; but it does need to be vigorous to the point that it gets your heart pumping and your breath quickened.
Ayurveda recommends that we move before we eat. When we do we’ll be getting our breath, fluids and circulation moving before our body’s resources need to be diverted to digesting food. I like to call this burst of morning movement “priming the prana pump”. Prana is the flow of intelligence, the pulse of our consciousness.
Prana serves as a connector; it’s the aspect of our subtle, energetic body that connects one system to the next throughout our entire mental, physical and emotional body. When prana is off balance and high it can cause: anxiety, disconnected movement (tripping, stumbling, bumping into things), a spacey mental state, an un-grounded feeling and sense of “there’s not enough time”. When prana is low, it shows up as: lack of energy or fatigue, lack of inspiration, overwhelm or flat out exhaustion. A morning burst of movement serves to regulate prana.
Morning movement options could be: a vigorous walk, a short run, a mini cardio blast, Sun Salutations, bouncing on the mini trampoline or dancing. You get the picture!
Not only does moving in the morning create a more vibrant and steady energy level throughout my day but the other big win is that by having this as a steadfast habit I avoid the pitfall of getting to the end of the day and blowing off exercise because I’m too tired or I don’t have time. Sometimes I’ll go for walks, bike rides, hikes, yoga or dance classes in the evening but that’s in addition to the morning movement.
The morning burst is non negotiable for me, it’s not just for movement and exercise; the main purpose is to “prime the prana pump” so that I can have clear, steady thinking and consistent physical energy throughout my day.
WHEN ENERGY WAINS – HAVE A SNACK
Katy Bowman is an expert in the field of bio-mechanics and she is shaking up the status quo in the world of exercise (movement). Her message is that we all need to move more and that it’s our repetitive and insufficient movements as well as our sedentary habits that cause much of our dis-ease and body deterioration.
Katy says, “It’s clear that no one in our culture moves enough—there’s even a new category of movement alongside “active” and “sedentary” called “actively sedentary” to describe the movers among us, who move on average only 4 percent of the time and spend the rest of their time as sedentary.”
Most of us need more movement and one way to get it is to intersperse small sessions throughout the day. Bonus: little bursts of exercise offer a pick me up.
When you’re feeling that afternoon lull and you want to reach for a snack, reach for a movement snack instead. I’ve found that small bursts of heart-pumping-movement actually wake me up and refresh my thinking.
Time for lunch? Take a 10 minute walk first, or after, or both!
Set a reminder on your phone, watch or computer that goes off every hour or two – when it sounds have a movement break. Here’s some of my fave activities:
- 10 min walk around the hood
- 1 song dance break
- 5 mins of hula hooping
- 25 jumping jacks
- 3 mins on the mini trampoline
- Ride my bike to do an errand
- 25 kettle bell swings + 10 squats
- Neck and shoulder stretches + a twist
I work at home so I have a lot of options within reach. You’ll have to get clear on your particular situation and figure out what options work best for you. I’ve helped people with office jobs come up with solutions that look more like:
- Walk around the block
- Go up and down a few flights of stairs several times
- Stretches at your desk
- Regular co-worker walk dates after lunch
The key is to make choices that compliment and counter what you’re doing throughout the day. Perhaps you have more of a laboring type job where you’re moving quite a bit. In order to balance out the repetitive movements you’re making throughout the day you’ll need to choose activities that “counter” the repetitive motions that your job is creating. If you’re using your hands, arms, back and legs in a repetitive motion over and over you will benefit your body when you do stretches or movement patterns that mobilize those body parts in an different way.
If you have a desk job or a job where you’re standing most of the day, add in movement breaks. As well, figure out how you can change your sitting or standing position frequently. At my home office I have different (work) stations where I move my laptop to so that I can stand, sit on the floor, and even lie on my belly while I work.
How can you intersperse more walking into your day? Walking is so good for us; we need to be continually scheming for how to get in more walks. Certain job situations may allow you to do business phone calls or even person to person meetings while walking. Maybe you’re a student who needs to listen to audio lessons: do it while you walk. Or maybe you can choose to walk or ride your bike to work.
It takes some creative thinking but you can get into the habit of discovering how to squeeze in movement snacks here, there and everywhere within your schedule.
BUT DO YOU KNOW HOW TO UNWIND?
At the risk of stating the obvious, SLEEP is a very important factor when it comes to creating steady yet vibrant energy during the hours of being awake. Our human body can’t thrive if it’s not getting near 8 hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep (ideally hitting the hay before 10pm).
In Ayurveda we learn the value of eating an early, light dinner; if we do we will naturally feel ourselves getting tired in the evenings. Getting tired at this time of the day is a good thing. If we eat late it actually wakes us up.
After dinner is a great time to: take a low key walk, do a bit of gardening, enjoy some gentle movement based activities or have some yoga (only if your food has digested). According to Ayurveda evening time is the right time to focus on feeding yourself with pleasurable movement. After that, cozy up with your loved ones and yourself, enjoy each other; tap into the sweet and easeful part of your day.
Purposeful “wind-down-time” in the evening versus gearing back up with a second wind is a key to creating great and deep recovery for your mind and body. It will also set you up for fantastic sleep. You need both in order to have vibrant energy during your waking hours.
OVER TO YOU
How is your mental and physical energy on a day to day basis? Can you relate to the symptoms of high or low prana? Do you have the right balance between play, work, home and hearth?
I hope you’ll be able to use this information about movement and exercise as a means of regulating your daily energy so that you can enhance your fulfillment and pleasure in this one precious life. Remember, the 3 basics are:
- Prime the pump
- Movement snacks
- Wind down in the evening
If you would like some personalized help let me know. I offer a free assessment and consultation to anyone that is considering the possibility of enrolling in a program or working together individually. The assessment is great way for you to get clear on where you’re at with your current challenges and where you’d like to get to. Sign up for a consult here.