Ever wonder how to best manage your energy throughout the week? Did you know, according to Ayurveda (a sister science of yoga), different days of the week represent different energetic elements? By learning to go with the natural flow, you can feel more focused and productive, happy and calm – even at work.
Here’s a pose a day to get you through your work week:
Yep, we’ve all had a case of the Mondays. You know the feeling: fogginess from the weekend, and resistance to getting started on the week. These are the elements of vata (air) and kapha (earth) at play. It’s a perfect day to get grounded, structured, and clear, with standing poses that also uplift. Think tree pose (shown below), or warrior 1. Root down into the legs and heels when you exhale, and lift up through your torso, neck, and arms when you inhale. Find an even and steady breath such as the Even Length Breath, inhaling and exhaling for the same length of time.
With one day under your belt, it’s time to kick it into high gear. Tuesdays are some of the most productive days, and are associated with Pitta, the fire element in Ayurveda. As such, the second day of the week is a good day to digest new ideas, transform problems into solutions, and to achieve clarity. Ignite this process with fire-inducing poses like twists, arm balances (side crow – also a twist – shown below) and abdominal exercises like boat pose. Need a little more heat? Energize with the Breath of Fire breathing technique (not suitable for those who are pregnant or on their cycle).
Hump Day heralds the middle of the work week. But don’t run out of steam yet. The energetic influences are pretty evenly balanced today between the three elements (kapha, pitta, vata or earth, fire, air, roughly), making Wednesdays a great opportunity to collaborate with others. Open your heart and get inspired with backbends like camel pose (shown below). You can also try this metta or Loving-Kindness Meditation to increase compassion if Tuesday’s fire still burns a little too bright.
Release the stress of the week and nurture areas where we typically carry tension, like the lower back and hips. The earth element, kapha, is strong on Thursdays, which you can use to your advantage by making slow and steady progress towards your goals (which may involve a lot of sitting). Try these hips circles and seated thread the needle pose (shown below). Explore this grounding Earth Meditation if you’re having a hard time staying focused.
You’ve made it! Take care of yourself on the last work day with restorative poses like Supta Baddha Konasana (shown first below). Practice pratyahara, sense withdrawl, by closing your eyes, and imagine you could gaze down your cheekbones towards your heart. This lengthens the back of the neck and puts the brain at ease. Let any sounds around you wash in and out, noticing sound as vibration without attaching to any noise. Consider putting your cell phone on silent for a few hours, or put your feet up, literally, with legs up the wall pose, great for your nervous system (shown second below). Yoga teachers sometime call this martini pose, as it’s how we like to end a long day of being on our feet teaching. Give it a try before your happy hour and give yourself a boost!
Jessica Schmidt is a 500 hour YogaWorks certified instructor and teaches at YogaWorks South Bay and YogaWorks Playa Vista. She is the founder of Executive Sutra: Yoga Wisdom for Leaders, a premier executive and employee wellness organization. Jessica combines her management experience at Fortune 500 companies with her Harvard MBA and her love of yoga to transform our workplaces through workshops and individual coaching. Contact her at JessicaSchmidt@ExecutiveSutra.com for more information on training for your team, or coaching for reaching your highest potential and deepest purpose. Check out her ebooks, The Energized Executive and The Creative Executive, with 25 tools each for peak performance and pleasure in business and beyond.