Fatigue is something we all are faced with from time to time. I know this because many of my students, friends and family complain about it. We’re so busy going to work, keeping up with our social life, taking care of the kids, taking care of the parents once they get older, battling a flu or serious illness, recovering from a strong work-out, and it tires us out. Fatigue has been an interest of mine for a while, since so many people (including myself) in so many different situations are dealing with it.
About two weeks ago, I was at this amazing training with Kate Holcombe on Yoga and Cancer. Maybe I should’ve known this, but to my biggest surprise, one major problem cancer patients are dealing with is fatigue; due to a lack of sleep, fear and stress, body aches and the recovery of the treatment.
From my own experience I know that yoga has often helped me in moments of fatigue. Even though often I started my practice feeling like I was too tired and shouldn’t be doing it, I have NEVER EVER regretted my decision to practice.
So to get to the point, I thought it would be nice to share the 9 poses that help me when I am tired, because they might help others too.
Chest opening poses and back bends are often associated with creating energy, while forward bends and inward going poses are associated with relieving anxiety and a calming of the mind. And then we have a variety of poses that can help you with insomnia, which are often forward bends or movements with the spine.
Below is a combination of these poses that help with fatigue. You could do the poses in a sequence, although you have to add a few extra poses to move smoothly from one pose into the other. If you are dealing with fatigue it is good to try the poses and see which ones are helpful for you. When you do all poses, you will also do all elements we practice in yoga, forward bend, backward bend, twist, standing poses, seated poses and inversions. The sequence will take you 5 to 10 minutes.
It is advisable to start the practice with 5 minutes of meditation, to calm the mind and be focused during the practice. End the practice with a Savasana pose (corpse pose) for a minimum of 10 breaths.
Some basis rules when you perform the poses:
- Make long, deep and controlled breaths through your nose. Focus on your breath going in and out while being in a posture. Try to make your exhale slightly longer then your inhale.
- Let your breath initiate a movement. Inhale is a movement upwards, exhale is a movement downwards or a twist.
- Work both sides of your body. Do every posture on the right side and then switch to the left.
- While you’re in a standing pose always check your front knee. When it is bent, it makes a 90-degree angle with your ankle; however, it should never go over your ankle.
- There is NO pose in yoga where we have our shoulders close to our ears. So when you are settled in a pose, always pay attention to your shoulders. Roll them backwards and down.
If you have doubts about the poses, below you can find the basic ideas and adjustments per picture.
3 poses to deal with insomnia
- Picture 1: Marjaryasana
Catpose. Come to your hands and knees. Knees in a 90 degrees angle with your hips, shoulders with the wrists. Inhale, look up and arch your spine. Exhale, look down and round your spine. Do this with a minimum of 5 times.
- Picture 2: Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward facing dog: Come onto the mat on your hands and knees. Knees are 90 degrees with your hips, hands straight under your shoulders. Tuck your toes under and on an exhale lift your knees away from the floor. Keep them slightly bent. Stretch one knee, bend the other. Switch several times. Bend both needs slightly and push your sitbones up in the air, while you push yourself away from your hands. On an exhale push your heels towards the mat. Stay for a minimum of three breaths.
- Picture 3: Paschimottanasana
Seated forward bend pose. Sit on the mat. Bring both legs forward. Pull your toes towards you. Inhale bring your arms up and straighten your spine, push your chest forward. Exhale come to a 45 degree angle. Grab where you can, knee, calf muscles, ankles, toes. Inhale straighten your spine again and exhale come forward as far as you can with your back straight. Look towards your knee.
3 poses to create energy
- Picture 4: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Bridge pose. Lay down on your back, knees are up, feet are hip distance apart. Measure the positioning of your legs by bringing your arms next to your body; the tip of your middle finger needs to just barely touch your heel. Then interlace your fingers behind your back. Push your hips up as far as you can, roll your shoulders together. Breathe into your chest.
- Picture 5: Salabhasana
Locust pose. Start by having your whole body on the mat. Bring your arms back. On the inhale take both your arms and legs up. If this is too much to begin with, then start with only taking your chest off the mat. Second time only the legs. And third time both the chest (arms) and the legs.
- Picture 6: Urdhva Hastasana
Upward Salute pose. With an inhale come up from Uttanasana. Keep your back straight while coming up. Align the movement and speed of your body with the breath. Bring your palms together over your head and on a next inhale make a small backward bend. If you want you can keep the pose for 2-3 cycles of breath.
3 poses to deal with anxiety
- Picture 7: Salamba Sarvangasana
Shoulder stand. Lay down on your back. Palms are facing down on the mat. Bring your knees into your chest. With the force of your hands push your hips off the floor. Place your hands in your back. Straighten your legs upright. Walk your hands closer to your shoulders blades. Stay here; wait until you can breath properly. If gravity is pulling you down, walk your hands closer to your shoulder blades and give yourself a lift. Stay for a minimum of 10 cycles of breath.
- Picture 8: Uttanasana
Standing forward bend pose. Hang forward, have your knees slightly bent or straight (your own preference) while holding your elbows or releasing your hand on the floor. Feel how, due to your head hanging down, the vertebras in your neck are getting some space. Stay in this pose for at least 5 cycles of inhales and exhales.
- Picture 9: Reclining twist
Reclining twist pose. Lay on your back. Arms are out in a cross. Bring your knees towards your chest. Make a 90-degree angle with your hips and your knees and knees and ankle. Move your legs to the right, look to the left; keep both shoulders on the mat. If you want you can place your right hand on your knees, to add extra pressure.