Do you wake up in the morning with low energy?
Are you already stressed out by the thoughts of your to-do list for the day?
Do you wake up unhappy?
Is it difficult to get out of bed at all?
Wish you had more energy to cope with the day?
If you answered yes to these questions, you might have a problem with your vitality. According to Ayurveda, the best way to increase your energy levels and stay healthy and happy is to increase your prana, or your vital life-force energy.
What is prana?
The Sanskrit word prana is usually translated as “vital air”, “life-force” or “vital energy.”
Ancient yogic texts tell us that prana is present in everything—both the animate and inanimate. It is prana that powers the vital processes that bring our physical body alive, giving it the dynamism to move and breathe. It is prana that regulates our senses and the way we perceive, think, and act.
Prana is often translated to breath, however, it is much more subtle. Prana is the inherent quality and force behind the motion of breathing. It is the invisible but powerful energetic force that enlivens the whole of nature.
The more you are connected to the basic elements of nature, the higher your prana level. These five elements are earth, water, fire, space, and air. When you are stuck in artificial environments with stagnant energy, you are more likely to feel tired, sluggish, and look for stimulants to charge you up.
How to Energize the Morning Without Caffeine
Do you reach for coffee or energy drinks first thing in the morning? You aren’t alone. When it comes to getting up in the morning, many people turn to caffeine to get a morning boost.
According to Time, drinking coffee before 9:30 am can actually create more stress in the body! When we first wake up, the stress hormone cortisol is at peak levels; this how our circadian rhythm signals us to wake up in the first place. The caffeine in coffee is also known to increase cortisol. Although helpful for waking up, caffeine creates an additional spike of cortisol that is harmful as it triggers an unnecessary stress response in the body, leading to more stress and anxiety.
You can still have your coffee, but time it properly to avoid this spike. The best time to drink it is after 9:30 am, when cortisol levels are lower—you’ll get the focus you’re looking for without the jitters or anxiety.
Luckily, there are a number of healthy alternatives you can rely upon for the energy boost. Here are ten ways you can wake up in the morning full of energy.
1. Wake up before 6:00 am. Ayurveda is an ancient science of well-being and healthy living that uses the body’s innate wisdom to balance and heal itself. Following Ayurveda’s dinacharya, or the body’s natural circadian rhythm, is one of the supporting pillars of Ayurveda.
Dinacharya is all about timing. Unlike conventional recommendations, Ayurveda is not just about whether you’re clocking 7–8 hours of sleep per night, but rather what time you’re going to sleep and waking up. According to Ayurveda, the best time to wake up is before sunrise. It is at this hour that one can begin to synchronize to the rhythm of the sun, when nature is also starting to ‘wake up’ with some movement in the atmosphere.
The last phase of our 24-hour body clock, 2:00–6:00 am, is ruled by vata, whose qualities of lightness, irregularity, and movement do not encourage good sound sleep. Rather, these vata qualities are essential ingredients of achievement in life.
If you get up during the hours when the body is alert, rested, clear, and light, you’ll naturally feel more energetic and the rest of your day will take on the same theme of these vata qualities. Activities will be more effortless, and work will be more productive. Many people report that their creativity and mental clarity are especially lively during these early morning hours.
In comparison, the period between 6:00–10:00 am is kapha time. kapha energy is heavy, slow, and steady. By getting up before this kapha period, you’ll avoid kapha problems such as lethargy, mucus accumulation, bowel congestion, constipation, sluggish liver, and heavy-headedness that you can get even after a good night’s sleep.
Many recent studies on the link between productivity and sleep patterns have concluded that early risers tend to do better than the rest. Of course, waking up early adds up an hour more to your daily schedule, which counts for a lot in this busy world! More time can mean more productivity, too. Apart from that, early risers have the habit of going to sleep early, which is incredibly beneficial for your health.
2. Open up the blinds and let the sunshine in. Exposing yourself to morning sunlight is essential for keeping your body in sync with its natural circadian rhythms. This light reacts with your brain to make you more stimulated and aware. So open up your blinds or curtains and windows, get some sunshine, and breathe in some fresh air for a productive morning!
3. Splash cold water on your face and take a shower. Quickly wake up your body and give your brain a boost of energy by splashing your face with cold water. If this is uncomfortable, start with warm water and slowly move to cold water. According to one study, cold water is invigorating and activates brown fat, growth hormone, and androgens to help give you the drive to take on the day.
4. Drink water. The body is naturally dehydrated from the overnight sleep. Even mild dehydration can make you feel tired, fatigued, and moody, so drink one or two glasses of room temperature or warm water first thing in the morning to keep your body energized and functioning smoothly through the day.
5. Stretch and get into a flow. A quick stretching routine will get your blood flowing and may help you feel more alert. Try a few rounds of Sun Salutations and feel the flow of energy from the navel center out to the whole body.
6. Fold your fingers into Prana Mudra—the gesture of life or energy. To perform this mudra, place the ring finger and little finger at the tip of the thumb gently and keep the other two fingers softly stretched.
Prana mudra is said to help activate the dormant energy in the body (chi or qui), and hence can be used whenever you feel drained or tired and need an extra boost of energy.
7. Try bellows breathing. At the Art of Living, we practice a breathing technique called coffee breath, or “Yogic Coffee” for a boost of energy and focus (and no caffeine jitters!). This technique is taught during our Happiness Program along with very powerful breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya.
8. Meditate. Spend a few moments breathing deeply, and follow it up with a morning meditation. Use an app like the Journey App to guide you. It’s one of the best ways to energize your body and calm your mind before a busy day. Download the app for free at Google Play or the Apple Store.
9. Go for a morning walk or do some light outside exercises. Exercise is a great all-natural energy booster, and walking especially can have rejuvenating effects on both the mind and the body. A brisk morning stroll can charge up your energy quickly. Take a walk around the block or in the community garden appreciating the natural surroundings and the vibrancy of your neighborhood.
10. Practice good sleep hygiene. Your bedtime habits, as well as your morning routine, can have a profound effect on the quality of your night’s rest, daytime energy, and productivity. There are a handful of best practices that help you having proper sleep hygiene. These include
- Turning off screens an hour before bed
- Turning in at the same time each night
- Creating a clean and comfortable sleeping environment
- Avoiding hitting snooze and get up at the same time each morning, even on weekends.
In the coming days, try these morning energy boosters
Not everyone can be a morning person, but these small tips can help you get the extra dose of prana that you need to find more energy. You don’t need to rely solely on caffeine to boost your energy in the morning.
If you are a person who wakes up at 9:00 am, don’t force yourself to wake up before 6:00 am after reading this article! But gradually, with will power, try to develop a habit of going to bed and waking up early. Enjoy the cool breeze and chirping of birds, and feel refreshed!