Whether you had a long day at work, suffer from depression, or just didn’t sleep well last night, there are many reasons why you might lack energy and feel fatigued. Fortunately, a comprehensive approach rooted in Ayurveda wisdom be used to manage these symptoms. In this article, I’ll discuss different approaches to managing poor energy and fatigue by focusing on lifestyle habits, diet, yoga and meditation and natural remedies.
Within Ayurveda, Energy is a function of the Kapha principle, and lack of energy, lethargy and listlessness can be attributed to an imbalance in the body’s Kapha. Excess Kapha, along with poor energy and sluggishness, is often accompanied by another symptom of the Kapha imbalance—weight gain! To avoid these unpleasant side effects, follow along as I walk you through how to bring your Kapha back into balance.
Let’s begin with lifestyle habits. In this article, I’d like to talk specifically about your emotional lifestyle. We often tend to repress our emotions, which causes mental imbalances of a physical nature; this can cause both discomfort and disease. This is especially true with the Kapha principle, which naturally tends to create traits of attachment, possessiveness, greed and envy. Instead of repressing these “socially-unacceptable” feelings or exhibiting them in full force as they arise, Ayurveda recommends that we observe our emotions and allow them to dissipate. The distinction between this approach and repression is subtle, yet very powerful.
Let’s say you’re feeling greed come on: allow yourself to become aware of it, watch the greed unfold, learn about it, watch it reach its natural peak, and then release it. Once you stop judging your emotions, you will find it easier to refrain from repressing them, and eventually to release them fully. Naturally, your Kapha will become balanced (or, in the case of other feelings, vata- and pitta- imbalances will similarly heal) and you will find yourself delightfully energized.
Within your diet, avoid foods that increase Kapha. Ice cream, cheese and yogurt are culprits, as are sweet and sour fruits like grapes, oranges, plums and grapefruits. Sweet potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini are also not recommended, and you should especially avoid meat, pork and beef. Apples, apricots, pomegranates, pears, peaches and persimmons are good for you, as are asparagus, beets, eggplant, garlic, leafy greens, cabbage, lettuce and mushrooms. Consume oils sparingly, and preferably use almond or sunflower oil when you do. While regular dairy products increase Kapha, goat’s milk and derived products help reduce Kapha. At mealtime, try to observe the following discipline: your stomach should be filled roughly a third with food, another third with water, and the final third with air. Ayurveda encourages sipping water during meals (though fruit juice with your meal is to be avoided).
Yoga and Pranayama, perhaps unsurprisingly, can also have a profound impact on improving your energy levels and fighting fatigue. Try starting your day with Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salution. These practices not only create a healthy circadian rhythm and helps your body capitalize on the energy of the sun, but also unlock energy reserves within your body. This supports an even energy flow and a healthy metabolism throughout the day! In addition, focusing on asanas that encourage blood flow in the stomach, head and chest invigorate a healthy Kapha, as does strengthening and stretching motions (bonus benefit: you just might experience fat loss and toned muscle!). Try spinal twists and back bends (camel, bow and boat) to release spinal energy, and lion, palm tree and half-wheels to gracefully harness your newfound energy flow!
To further stimulate energy, I recommend a powerful breathing technique called Kapalabhati Pranayama or “Cleaning Breath.” Start by sitting in a comfortable position and taking in a deep inhale. Exhale rapidly in quick, short powerful breaths (some inhalation after each exhale is to be expected and normal). Perform for 5-6 minutes, alternating one minute of breathing exercise with one minute of rest. An additional benefit? This exercise is also believed to help tremendously in how your body metabolizes fat!
There are also several natural remedies you can use to balance an aggravated Kapha. Try aloe vera or adding alfalfa to your tea, and incorporating cinnamon, a detoxifying herb that strengthens and energizes tissue, into your diet. The next time you find yourself in the kitchen, whip up a decoction of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and clove to balance your Kapha. Essential oils also have a long history of providing great support to improving your energy levels and fighting fatigue. In fact, did you know that rosemary has shown extensive promise in scientific research in greatly enhancing energy and memory retention (by up to 75%!)? Peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus, for example, can help unlock healthy energy reserves to provide you with all day health energy, all naturally.
With these recommendations in mind, you can now effectively manage poor energy and fatigue—the Ayurveda way!
Kapha is one of the three main principles that govern the human constitution. Within the practice of Ayurveda, all matter is believed to be made up of five elements: Prithvi (Earth), Agni (Fire), Jal (Water), Vayu (Air) and Aakash (Ether). They manifest in the human body as three basic principles: Vata (Ether and Air), Pitta (Fire and Water) and Kapha (Earth and Water). These three principles govern all biological, psychological and physiopathological functions of the body and mind. An imbalance of these principles is believed to result in disease and bodily discomfort.