How do I shift my energy?
How do I shift my energy?
The two key steps to shifting your energy include discovering what you’re feeling, followed by applying an appropriate technique to bring yourself into balance.
First Understand How You Feel
The yogic teachings speak of three gunas — or qualities — that make up all experience. As yogis, we aspire to create a sattvic state of balance, harmony and relaxed awareness within ourselves and our lives.
Sattva is the guna we wish to establish. Rajas is the quality of activity, anger, agitation, restlessness and anxiety; whereas tamas is the base of experiences such as heaviness, inertia, attachment, greed and depression.
For example, burnout and depression sometimes look similar, but the first is likely caused by excess rajas and the second by excess tamas. A vigorous vinyasa practice might help someone with excess tamas, but will not help establish balance in a person who is worn out. Thinking in terms of rajas and tamas can help to find the root cause of imbalance.
Techniques for Shifting Your Energy
Though we know how to employ body, breath and mind in finding balance, the magic is almost always in the mind. Giving your full attention, even for a few moments, can profoundly shift your experience.
When we are anxious or stressed it is often difficult to rest in stillness. We can instead reach relaxation though gentle, focused action. To cultivate sattva using the physical body, you can do a non-strenuous asana practice, go for a walk and intentionally notice your surroundings and your footfalls, or go for a run or swim.
Exercise isn’t your only option. For example, you can wash your hands, giving special attention to the sensation of the water and visualizing anything unwanted or unhelpful being carried away.
Our mental state is reflected in our breath, and our breath can shape our mental state. Roughly, the inhale corresponds to excitation and the exhale to relaxation. Therefore, if you are if you are feeling depressed, lethargic or stuck, give five minutes of attention to relaxing the breath in a 1:1 ratio. If the inhale takes three counts, give three counts to the exhale, pressing all the stale air out. To soothe anxiousness or agitation, cultivate a 1:2 ratio of the inhale to the exhale. If the inhale lasts two counts, see if you can extend the exhale to four counts.
Meditation can have different effects; some meditations are soothing, while others are challenging and complex. Focused relaxation is a sattvic state, so meditations that help you feel this way — such as a familiar mantra meditation — are a good way to shift your energy.
Ten minutes of savasana, remembering your root motivations for practice and for desiring balance, and consciously replacing unwelcome thoughts with chosen ones, can all help in shifting your energy.
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Written by Sheila Miller
Sheila Miller, Ph.D., ERYT-500 is a Senior Teacher of ISHTA Yoga and has been a student of yoga and Buddhism for more than 20 years. Her specializations include teaching meditation, asana and yoga nidra for healing, self-knowledge and lasting personal transformation. She researches the effects of meditation and yoga practice on learning, communities, health and the healing of trauma. She also teaches public and private classes, workshops and retreats around the world.Full Bio