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New Year, New You: Yoga for Energy

The following is a guest post by Zenergy Yoga Instructor Lauri Bunting:

Each year in the United States alone, fatigue sends six million people to the doctor.  Fatigue comes in varying types and degrees. For some people, it is a feeling of lethargy where simple day-to-day activities require a great effort. For some, it is brain fog, mental confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Still others may experience low-grade depression, a sort of dark cloud that hangs over everything.

When fatigue becomes chronic, it may affect mood, relationships, and the ability to function in the office, at home or at school. According to the Western model, fatigue becomes “chronic” when it lasts over six months and is accompanied by at least four secondary symptoms such as unrefreshing sleep, recurring sore throat, tender lymph nodes, joint and muscle pain, impaired short-term memory, and difficulties concentrating. Doctors typically treat symptoms but are at a loss when it comes to cause or cure.

From a yoga perspective, fatigue is a condition of depletion that occurs due to imbalances at the level of the body, mind and spirit. Yoga peers at an individual through the lens of the five koshas, which holistically define humans as spiritual, intellectual, emotional, energetic, and physical beings.  An imbalance may show up at one level, and manifest at another.

Take, for example, a person who is disconnected from his true sense of self, a disruption at the spiritual level. His life is spent trying to “become” someone. He searches for a sense of purpose, frantically grasping at things to define him, and in doing so, his thoughts, words and actions conflict with his innate yet dormant sense of self. Life feels like an arduous journey as he forges his way against a strong current. His breath pattern, energy, and posture may reflect this struggle, manifesting as back pain and physical exhaustion. When the spiritual sheath is in balance, life seems to flow effortlessly. The world reflects our innate contentment, peace and joy, and we feel blessed by miracles.

Imbalances at the intellectual and emotional layers have to do with going through life with blinders, failing to recognize patterns and connect dots. At this level, individuals are ruled by unconscious habits and self-limiting beliefs. Their response to the world is purely emotional, serving a short-term impulse without considering long-term repercussions. The intellectual layer holds the light of awareness that invites a pause between experiences flowing in and response. Under this light, we begin to examine beliefs, habits, and responses that hold us separate from our innate contentment, peace and deep-seated joy.

The energetic level is closely related to breath. Breath is the vehicle that delivers prana, our life-sustaining energy. Prana flows in at birth with the first inhalation, sustains life though the process of breathing, and flees upon death with the final exhalation. Breath and prana are affected by states of the body and mind.  Our moods, stress level, and physical health affect the quality of breath, flow of prana, and energy. The opposite is also true—the way we breathe affects mood, nervous system, energy level, and physical wellbeing.

Trauma at the physical level also affects our energy. Illness and injury can trigger a long bout of fatigue. Body awareness is imperative for balance at this level. An individual with good body awareness attunes to subtle cues that suggest the first hint of imbalance. She is the one who miraculously dodges injury and illness. She has a knack for nipping things in the bud. Imbalances at any level results in loss of energy and eventual fatigue. Due to the nature of these intertwined sheaths, an imbalance at one level affects all of the other sheaths. From a healing standpoint, this is good news. As we move into balance in one kosha, there are positive repercussions in the others.

Yoga offers a variety of tools to balance each of the five layers of existence. Body awareness exercises and yoga postures target the physical and energetic sheaths. Breathing exercises work at the energetic, emotional and intellectual sheaths. Guided imagery and other forms of meditation address the emotional, intellectual and spiritual sheaths. From a yoga standpoint, fatigue becomes the impetus for change, the catalyst to experiencing life as an integrated whole, and a guiding light along the journey of self-discovery.

Join Lauri Bunting for two upcoming yoga series designed to boost energy and create healthy patterns for the new year:

Yoga for Energy, Moving Beyond Fatigue With Lauri Bunting (10-week series) 
January 5 – March 16 (no class January 19)
Thursdays, 5:15-6:45pm
This series addresses issues of energy depletion and chronic fatigue. Each class will use specific yoga postures, breathing practices, meditations and reflection to help cultivate energy and optimize its flow throughout the body and mind.
Members $150 / Non-members $200
Please sign-up in advance:

Breath Break: The Art of Yogic Breathing With Lauri Bunting (4-week series) 
January 3 – 31 (no class on January 17)
Tuesdays, 5:30-6:30pm
Breath is the bridge between body and mind and the gateway to stillness and peace. In this series, students will first become aware of breathing patterns and then learn simple techniques to energize, calm, and balance the mind-body.
Members $60 / Non-Members $80 / Drop in M $20 / NM $25
Please sign-up in advance:

Lauri Bunting is a yoga instructor at Zenergy. She is available for private therapeutically oriented yoga sessions.