Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How do you manage your energy? (Brahmacharya)

This month we are contemplating Brahmacharya, energy management or moderation, the fourth Yama in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.  In our culture, we can use this yama to pause and consider what gives us energy and what depletes our energy.  So far in yoga class this month we've had some nice insights about this.  Noting how food, sleep, movement, breath, people, and mindset, are some elements that help support our energy.  We also noted how these same elements can be depleting to our energy.  So let us consider:
  • What kinds of food do we eat?  Are we using food as fuel or as entertainment, distraction, comfort? 
  • Are we getting enough sleep?  good quality sleep?  in a comfortable place and position that our body can truly rest and restore itself?
  • Do we take the time to move our bodies?  Even when we are tired and don't feel like moving it may benefit us to "get the juices flowing" by going for a walk in nature or doing some simple yoga stretches.  If we start out slow, follow the messages from our body, and gently invite it to "wake up" we may find we have the energy for some sun salutations and warrior poses.  Remember the flow of a yoga class: warm up gently (use the six directions of the spine - cat and cow, side stretches and twisting), heat up to ignite your prana (life force energy), enjoy the vibration and glow of your true nature, and cool down to a relaxation pose to let the subtle vibrations bring you the peace and healing you need.
  • How often do we bring our attention to our breath?  Simple breath awareness can help balance our energy by calming the mind and delving more deeply into the signals of the body.  Movement and breath help each other.  The more breath we invite into the body, the more energy we may have for movement.  The more we move and energize our body, the deeper our breath goes to respond to the movement.  In yoga class, we practice pranayama, the expansion of our life force energy, with special breathing practices:  sitali breath, alternate nostril breathing, kapalabhati, etc.  Each breathing practice has its own sutble effects on our energy body (pranamaya kosha).
  • Who are the people in our lives who contribute to our feeling good, feeling love, feeling peace, and feeling joy?  Do we make time to spend with those in our lives who raise our vibration to a higher level?  Can we set better boundaries (physical, mental, or emotional) around those people who contribute to depleting our energy?  Are we making good choices in our daily activities to arrive in places where we meet people who inspire us?
  • What frame of mind do we filter our lives through most of the time?  If we have reinforced a negative mindset over the years, it can take time to slowly change it.  We do have the choice and the ability to do this.  At the brain level, we create new neural pathways that are more positive and ignite more compassion, love, and joy.  We form the connection in our brain over time that helps us to see the struggles we have in this life as our work to grow and learn - not as a punishment or a signal that the world is a bad place.  In yoga, we talk about this as a samskara or a groove.  These samskaras are created and we get stuck falling back into them until we create new ones.  So with all our habits of body, breath, and mind, we can make choices to create new samskaras that we fall into more positive grooves.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Angela..just wanted to say that I love your blog! Seems like I can always relate these concepts to my own life circumstances! I find it very helpful! thank you! Denise