Natasha writes for the Focus Magazine and this article appeared in 2009
“Feeling tired is a common complaint in the Western World and many of us are weary no matter how much sleep we get. That sluggish feeling can be hard to shake and can ultimately stunt creativity.
Yoga is a complete exercise meaning that it doesn’t just work on the physical body but also energises the mind and internal system making us become more alert. Many people leave a yoga class with a feeling of peace and calm alongside vitality they’re not used to feeling. The more you practice yoga the better you will feel.
One of the reasons that many of us feel tired is we don’t breathe as effectively as we should. If you observe a baby or small child you will see that their chests and abdomen lift as a matter of course, whereas as adults we tend to breathe in a much more shallow way, in the worst case scenario we just breathe in our throat.
Stress is often the culprit behind this kind of breathing. This soon becomes a way of life and the body can adjust and survive but it will mean that because you’re not breathing completely a feeling of lethargy can set in which is difficult to shift.
Pranayama is the name given to the breath in yoga and a good teacher will draw your attention to the breath throughout the class to ensure that you’re getting the most out of the postures but also so the body including internal organs are being nourished which will leave you feeling energised and ready for action.
If you are feeling really drained it is amazing what a five minute stint of breath work can do. If you can, sit comfortably, perhaps cross-legged against a wall if appropriate. Close your eyes and place your hands on your lower ribs. As you inhale try to ‘push’ into your hands which will cause your chest to rise too. This enables the diaphragm to work correctly and will leave you feeling both relaxed but energised – a strange feeling but a fantastic one.
There are lots of other breathing techniques that can give you an ‘instant boost’ and chase away any cobwebs. Many morning classes will conclude with three ‘energising breaths’ designed to kickstart the system leaving your raring to go.
Poses such as the Warrior sequence are fantastic for awakening body and mind as well as giving a feeling of strength and power – alongside sleek thighs. If you attend a regular class you may begin with the Sun Salutation sequence, which again is about waking the body up and shaking off any feelings of inertia.
If tiredness is a particular concern for you then talk to your teacher and see if they can recommend any particular postures or techniques that you can try. Your teacher may also talk about diet, nutrition and staying away from external toxins such as too much alcohol which are all part of the problem for many Westerners.
The beauty of yoga is that is can respond to the needs and interests of the individual. You can take as much or as little out of it, there is so much to explore. If you simply want it to tone up your body that is fine but it can be pursued with more passion and ultimately become a way of life.”