How to Fight Fatigue and Improve Focus
Within Ayurveda, energy is a function of the Kapha principle and feelings of lethargy can be attributed to an imbalance in the body’s Kapha. It’s useful to note the Kapha principle governs the anabolism function of the body (anabolism is defined as constructive metabolism – as opposed to destructive metabolism, where body breaks food down into energy. During anabolism, larger, more complex molecules are formed from smaller ones). Excess Kapha leads to increased anabolism. It should come as no surprise that poor energy and sluggishness is often accompanied by another symptom of the Kapha imbalance – you guessed it – weight gain!
Assess your emotional lifestyle. Ayurveda encourages us to observe our emotions so they may dissipate, as repressing emotions causes mental imbalance. This, in turn, leads to physical imbalances that manifest as illness or discomfort.
The Kapha principle tends to create traits of attachment, greed, and envy – which, of course, we don’t recommend exhibiting in full force. However, when we experience these often ‘socially-unacceptable’ feelings, we may feel a knee jerk reaction to suppress and hide them deep within our minds. Instead, Ayurveda advocates an “observe and release” mentality that is predicated upon being aware of our emotions – even those we perceive as negative – and learning to understand them. Make an effort to allow your emotions to unfold and reach their natural peak – then, acknowledge and release them! By avoiding the impulse to judge your feelings, you’ll find it easier to avoid repressing them, and will ultimately be able to release them fully. The mental balance you feel will fuel greater physical balance, and you will find yourself delightfully energized!
Avoid foods that increase Kapha, such as dairy products like ice cream, cheese, and yogurt or sweet & sour fruits like grapes, plums and grapefruits. Other foods to avoid include sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes, as well as pork and beef. Instead, incorporate fruits like apples, apricots, peaches and persimmons, and vegetables like asparagus, beets, eggplant, garlic, and cabbage. Use oil sparingly, choosing almond or sunflower when you do. Although cow’s milk (and its derivatives) should be avoided, goat milk alternatives actually work to reduce Kapha. Sip water at meals, and remember – when finished, your stomach should be a third full of food, a third full of water, and a third full of air. Find more details on a kapha-balancing diet here.
These practices can have a profound impact on improving energy levels and fighting fatigue. Begin your day with a sun salution to create a healthy circadian rhythm and capitalize on the energy of the sun! This will also help unlock energy reserves in the body to support an even energy flow and healthy metabolism throughout the day. Focus on asanas that create focus and blood flow in the stomach, head, and chest, to invigorate a healthy Kapha. Strengthening and stretching motions can have a similar effect – not to mention benefits for weight loss and muscle tone! Spinal twists and back bends like the camel, boat, and bow poses will also release spinal energy, while the lion, palm tree and half-wheel poses will help you gracefully harness your new-found energy flow!
This Cleaning Breath is a powerful breathing technique to stimulate energy. 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. This exercise is also believed to help improve your body’s fat metabolizing process. Also try the Ego Eradicator and Breath of Fire! Keep in mind that there are some situations where you should avoid the breath of fire - when you are pregnant, on the first day of your menstrual cycle, or just after eating.
Alfalfa (try it in a tea!) and Aloe Vera are excellent for balancing an aggravated Kapha. Cinnamon is a detoxifying herb that also strengthens and energizes tissue. A decoction of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and clove is a powerful Kapha balancer. Essential oils also have a long history of improving energy levels and battling fatigue. Peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus can help naturally unlock healthy energy reserves that will last you through the day. Uma’s Pure Energy blend harnesses the powerful effects of these and six other carefully selected essential oils, expertly formulated to provide a healthy source of energy, all day long.
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 - vata-pitta-kapha – govern all the biological, psychological and physiopathological functions of body and mind. Disease and bodily discomfort are considered to stem from an imbalance in these principles.