55 Ways to Get More Energy

55 Ways to Get More Energy

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Greg Go, co-author of Wise Bread‘s new book, 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. Buy the book today (by Monday 11:59pm PDT) and get a $15 Ebates bonus and a chance to win a brand new Flip Cam.

If you’re tired all the time, a change in what you eat (diet) or what you do all day (activity pattern) may be all you need to turn things around 180°.

You won’t be able to do everything on this list all the time — you’d tire yourself out trying to get more energy — but do try them all to see which ones work for you and your schedule. Add a few of these tips to your regular routine. Or mix them up to keep things interesting.

1. Change your socks for refreshment.

It’s an amazing trick. Bring a change of socks to work, and change your socks midway through the day (say, after lunch). You’ll be amazed at how much fresher you’ll feel. This trick is especially handy on days with lots of walking — like during a hike or family outing to the amusement park.

2. Rock out loud.

Whether you work alone or in a room with coworkers, a quick one-song rock out loud session is an effective way to beat back exhaustion.

In a cube farm? Get everyone to sing along! The key is to choose a song that everyone can sing along with. (I like

.) The energy boosting effect comes from bobbing your head and singing out loud. One song, 3 minutes. That’s a quick boost of adrenaline that lasts for a bit. You’ll be singing to yourself the rest of the never ending project delivery night.

3. Get rid of the stuffy nose.

If allergies have your sinuses blocked, you may be feeling more tired and cranky. An over-the-counter allergy medication should clear up your sinuses (and your mind).

4. Work with your body’s clock.

There is a natural ebb and flow of energy throughout the day. We start off sluggish after waking up, even after a solid 8 hours of sleep. Our energy peaks mid-morning, and it’s natural to want a siesta in the afternoon. We get a second spike of energy in the early evening, followed by our lowest energy point just before bedtime. Once you understand this natural rhythm of energy throughout the day, you can work on the important tasks during your peak hours and avoid early afternoon snoozefests (meetings).

5. Have a piece of chocolate.

Not too much, but if you’re going to have some candy, it might as well be chocolate. We get an endorphin buzz from chocolate (not to mention the energy boost from the slight bit of caffeine chocolate contains). Dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk chocolate.

An afternoon snack of yogurt, berries, and nuts will provide the boost of energy to carry you through the day. Photo by lepiaf.geo / Flickr

6. Have an afternoon power snack.

A small healthy snack that is low in sugar and has protein and/or fiber a couple hours after lunch helps you finish off the day strong. Some suggestions:

  • mixed nuts
  • nonfat yogurt
  • apple and peanut butter
  • frozen berrie smoothie
  • trail mix
  • granola bar

7. Hit up the water cooler for inconsequential banter.

A little midday gossip and random banter is a great pick-me-up for your tired mind. It works because it gets your mind on zero-stress thoughts for a while. The mental break for just a few minutes will revitalize you.

8. Eat lots of berries.

Especially berries that are blue, red, or purple. The color comes from anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant, that boosts energy. Any kind of berry will contain tons.

All types of berries help fight fatigue and are delicious to boot! Photo by Zabowski / Flickr

9. Wear brighter colors.

This trick is related to the mood you project to people, and the reciprocating mood they project towards you. If you wear dark, somber colors, you project a dark, somber attitude, and people will respond to you with a somber attitude. If you wear bright, happy colors, you’ll get that attitude projected towards you, which will boost your own mood and energy levels.

10. Take a power nap.

But do it in your chair. Don’t lie down on the sofa or you won’t get back up. Keep it short: 5-10 minutes max. Any longer and it will have the opposite effect of knocking you out for the rest of the day.

11. Flirt.

It’s fun, it’s harmless (keep it innocent), and it’s effective. Nothing quite gets the heart pumping like a little flirting.

Amore gets the blood flowing. Flirt for more energy. Photo by Kjunstorm / Flickr

12. Aromatherapy with lavender.

Research has shown that the lavender scent increases alertness. Test subjects were given math tests before and after 3 minutes of lavender aromatherapy. The group completed the tests faster and more accurately after aromatherapy.

13. Wake up at the same time everyday.

Including weekends. This sets your body clock. Otherwise, you’ll be wide awake when you should be asleep. Or worse, asleep when you should be awake (dozing off in a meeting is embarrassing). The key is to go to bed at the same time every night. If you need to reset your sleep cycle in one day, stop eating for the 16 hours before the time you want to wake up.

14. Drink lots of water.

Dehydration is a sinister cause of fatigue because it slowly creeps up on you. If you consistently drink less than 8 cups of water a day, you may be sluggish all the time. Get a 32 oz (1 quart, 4 cups) water bottle. Your goal is to polish off 2 of those a day. Try it for a week and see if your general energy level increases.

15. Use caffeine wisely.

Coffee and caffeinated sodas can boost your alertness, but be careful about letting it be a habitual crutch. The temptation to drink more caffeine to get even more energy will be strong. Eventually you’ll be downing 5 double-shot espressos a day just to function. Drink coffee earlier in the day to avoid insomnia, which will make the next day worse.

Use caffeine in moderation. Coffee provides a shot of energy, but can also become a counterproductive dependence. Photo by visualpanic / Flickr

16. Avoid energy drinks.

Energy drinks provide a near-instant hyperactivity boost, but they always result in a crash. Energy drinks are like energy credit cards — you’re spending future energy to get short-term energy. The resulting energy deficit gets worse until you hit energy bankruptcy.

17. Eat low glycemic (low or complex carb) foods.

Trade in good, complex carbohydrates (low glycemic index) for the bad, simple carbs (sugar). Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index means the sugar is more easily digested by your body. That results in a spike in energy followed by a low-sugar crash.

High glycemic index foods to avoid include white bread, potato, and high sugar foods (like sodas). Low glycemic foods (the good carb foods) include fruits and vegetables, grains (eg., whole wheat bread), low-carb foods (eg., meats), and pasta. Check this chart of foods and their glycemic index before your next trip to the grocery store.

18. Eat more soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber is the kind that slows down the rate of absorption of sugars. It evens out your energy levels by preventing a sugar high and crash. (By the way, insoluble fiber is the kind that prevents constipation.) Don’t worry too much about which kind of fiber you’re getting — they’re both good for you. Rotate more high soluble fiber foods like nuts, grains, fruits, plant matter (vegetables), beans, and oats into your diet.

Eat and sniff more citrus fruits for an energy boost. Photo by Steven Fernandez / Flickr

19. Get your Vitamin C.

Get a daily dose of citrus fruits (eg., orange juice in the morning) or a vitamin C tablet. Study after study shows the correlation between citric acid deficiency and chronic fatigue. Vitamin C also helps you absorb more nutrients from food.

20. Sniff some citrus.

In addition to the Vitamin C, citrus scents (like orange, lemon and lime) stimulate alertness. So lather on some of that lemon scented lotion.

21. Cover the B Vitamins.

B vitamins cover a range of bodily functions, but most B vitamins are involved in the process of converting blood sugar into usable energy. To ensure you get the proper amount of B vitamins, eat a balanced diet.

22. Quit smoking.

Ex-smokers frequently report an energy boost of 2-3x when they quit smoking. Nicotine affects your sleep, so you don’t get as good a night’s sleep. That makes you cranky, frustrated and tired the next day. Which leads to more smoking. It’s a vicious energy sapping cycle.

23. Play to relax.

Playing a game keeps your mind working (versus, say, watching TV), but doesn’t have any of the energy-sapping stresses of work. Go ahead and play that quick game of Scrabble on Facebook, but have a strict time limit if you don’t want your boss to say something.

Play a game to relax. It keeps your mind active without the debilitating stress. Photo by Sukanto Debnath / Flickr

24. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.

Snack throughout the day. By eating smaller but more frequent “meals”, you will maintain a steady dose of energy instead of experiencing food comas. Don’t snack on fatty and sugar laden junk food though. You may get a short 30 minute burst of hyperalertness, but it’ll be quickly followed by a debilitating crash.

25. Enjoy a cup of tea.

In a recent study, University College London researchers noted that drinking a cup of tea 4-6 time a day reduces stress hormone levels in your body. The study’s results suggest “drinking black tea may speed up our recovery from the daily stresses in life.”

26. Splash some water on your face.

Just letting the cool water hit your face washes off the grime and stresses of the day. You could also jump in the pool or take a shower for the same effect. Showers stimulates the circulatory system and metabolism. Get wet to feel more energetic.

Get wet to freshen up and get a shot of energy. Photo by Liz Noise / Flickr

27. Stand up, stretch and take a couple of deep breaths.

Stretch your arms, back, legs, and neck. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it, and let it out slowly and forcefully. Repeat several times. This will take 30 seconds and will be an instant fix. When you sit back down, you’ll have the clear head and fresh feeling needed to power through the tough/boring task in front of you.

28. Get your world organized.

When your world is organized, you don’t have to expend mental energy keeping track of a million things. Here’s how to take back control of your time and productivity:

Zen desk = less stress = more energy. Photo by Laure Wayaffe / Flickr

29. Look on the bright side.

A generally upbeat and optimistic outlook on life will keep your energy level up. Yes, the worst thing that can happen might actually happen, but giving it too much worry will only drain you. Look for the positive in every situation and you won’t be so tired.

30. Take a mini-vacation.

Take one day and just do whatever you want. No work, no chores, no errands. Enjoy your one full day of vacation, then come back to work more motivated and energetic.

31. Eat a satisfying breakfast but a light lunch.

A heavy lunch, especially one with lots of carbs or fat (like a burger combo) will hit you as soon as you get back to the office. And it’ll be a sluggishness that lasts to the end of the day. Eat a big breakfast instead. It provides the fuel you need for the day, at the time when your body needs it the most. Not only will you avoid the afternoon food coma, the big breakfast will make you more productive in the mornings. Double win.

Start your day with a powerful breakfast that provides the fuel you need for the day. Photo by Charles Chan / Flickr

32. Choose protein over fat or carbs.

Foods with lean (low fat) protein help you feel fuller for longer. It also prevents blood sugar spikes, giving you more steady energy. Lean protein foods include fish and other seafood, lean pork, or chicken breasts (“white meat”).

33. Shed a few pounds.

The things you do to lose weight — exercise, drink water, avoid simple sugars — are actions that also have a positive effect on your energy level. Even better, the actual loss of excess fat provides an energy boost of its own. You’ll feel “lighter” and things that use to make you breathless will now seem much easier. Losing weight provides a double-impact to boosting your energy.

But be careful with fad and/or crash diets. Cutting out too many calories (ie., energy your body needs) too fast will cause you to be even more tired. Take small steps, and make it a lifestyle change so you shed the fat for life.

34. Listen to tunes while you work.

It’s well known that our brain’s pleasure centers light up when we hear music. Throwing on the headphones and listening to any music you like while working will give you a productivity boost.

35. Start exercising.

If you have a fairly sedentary life, just the idea of starting an intense exercise program is exhausting. But if you go slow, literally taking one step at a time, you can go from being sedentary to becoming a runner just like Leo.

Get moving! Getting some exercise will lift your energy levels all day. Photo by Hamed Saber / Flickr

36. Eliminate stress.

Stress is draining. Sometimes it’s worth it, like when you’re on a deadline to delivery a big project. Sometimes it’s just a waste of energy. Leo says,

Certain things in our life just cause us to be more exhausted than others, with less value. Identify them, and cut them out. You’ll have much more energy and much less stress. Happiness ensues.

Here’s how to eliminate stress from your life.

37. Have more sex.

Talk about an endorphin rush! If you keep those endorphins flowing regularly, you’ll have more natural energy. Literally, more bounce to your step.

38. Move gym time to the morning.

A lot of people go to the gym after work. Try going to the gym in the morning instead to get energy that lasts all day. Sure, you’ll have to wake up an hour or two earlier, but you get that time back at night. That exercise in the morning gets the endorphins flowing, which keeps you happy and productive the rest of the day. By exercising in the morning instead of at night, you spend the same amount of time at the gym, but get the added benefit of having more energy at work.

39. Purge low-value tasks from your todo list.

If you have a ridiculously long todo list that is impossible to get all the way through, you’ll feel tired just thinking about the todo list. If you want to actually cross off tasks from your todo list, you’ll need to throw out the crap tasks that you don’t want/need to deal with. Either delegate those tasks, move them into a second “nice but not critical” list, or just admit that they’re probably never going to get done and move them to the “maybe/someday” list. Shortening your todo list to just the most critical, must-do tasks will give you the “energy” to start knocking out those tasks.

40. Avoid the mid-day cocktail.

If you want to function in the afternoon, avoid alcohol at lunch. Even if it’s just one beer. Alcohol’s sedative effects will take hours to recover from, killing the rest of your afternoon.

Skip the alcohol at lunch if you want to make it to 5:00. Photo by ktylerconk / Flickr

41. Get a massage.

Loosen up those tight muscles and you’ll feel more relaxed. A more relaxed you means a happier and more productive you. Trade a quick shoulder rub with a coworker after lunch to perk both of you up for the rest of the afternoon.

42. Dress up.

Feeling better about yourself has a magical way of giving you more energy. Put just a tad more effort into looking your best for work, and you’ll get compliments from coworkers that will make you feel better — and make you a perkier, more energetic worker bee.

43. Don’t drink yourself to sleep.

Alcohol keeps your body from entering deep sleep, so even if you get the same hours of sleep, you won’t feel as rested. Limit alcohol the hours before bedtime to get the best night’s sleep.

44. Get a thyroid test from your doctor.

If you are chronically fatigued, it may be a symptom of hypothyroidism. That’s when not enough thyroid hormone is produced, with fatigue as one of its symptoms. Visit the doctor if you’ve been tired for a long time and haven’t had a checkup in a while.

45. Take a walk outside.

Getting outside for some fresh air, a change of scenery, and a quick walk to get your blood going will do wonders for your mood and motivation. Seeing the sun is a signal to your body that it’s not bedtime yet.

Take a walk outside to clear your head. Photo by vshioshvili / Flickr

46. Lower your blood pressure.

Besides being a risk factor for a heart attack, high blood pressure makes you fatigued. If you haven’t seen your doctor lately, go in and get your blood pressure checked.

47. Rotate yogurt into your diet.

Yogurt with live cultures keep your digestive system clean, which helps your body absorb all the nutrients from food. That makes you healthier and more energetic. Yogurt is also a good low-fat snack.

48. Have a laugh.

Laughter is great medicine for exhaustion. Make sure you laugh regularly to keep your mood up. Seek out funny people or subscribe to a daily email joke. I like the geeky comic xkcd for a quick smile. What’s your favorite quick funny pick-me-up?

49. Add more cardio to your gym time.

The aerobic exercise gets your blood pumping. It builds stamina and endurance, which is useful for both triathalons and neverending department meetings.

50. Take up yoga.

The stretching, slow controlled movements, and focus on breathing reduces tension (and stress). The benefits include better sleep, feeling more relaxed, and being mentally sharper.

51. Eat eggs.

When people have eggs (mostly protein) for breakfast, versus bagels (all carbs), they feel more energy and eat less at the next meal. Protein makes you feel fuller without feeling stuffed, and they provide a steady stream of energy for your body (versus the quick high and crash of carbohydrates). Eggs are a great for breakfast or as an addition to a lunch salad.

52. Get a good night’s sleep.

We need 7-8 hours of sleep to be fully rested. Consistently sleeping less than 6 hours a night builds up a “sleep debt” that is hard to recover from. If you’re getting enough sleep, it should take you up to 30 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow (or while sitting at your desk), that’s a symptom of sleep deprivation.

53. Get more ginseng.

Ginseng is well-known to have energy boosting properties. It is an adaptogen, which means it build resistance to stress and boosts energy. A ginseng supplement or sipping tea with ginseng can help improve energy.

54. Socialize.

Turn off the Internet and go socialize with friends. Humans are social animals, and we need regular socializing to keep ourselves in peak health and energy.

Go out and play with your friends! Photo by Strocchi / Flickr

55. Get on your toes.

Roll up and down on your toes. This stimulates your circulatory system, which will deliver much-needed oxygen and fuel (glucose) throughout your body. You’ll be more energized and sharper. You can do this right now.

Heartwarming Life Lessons From Judy Blume

Ever felt extremely frustrated but couldn’t quite find the words to express it? Books can eloquently describe the emotions we’re feeling better than we can — and there’s no one who can capture the uncertainty of growing up like young-adult author Judy Blume.

These seven heartwarming quotes from the author’s novels not only poetically capture life’s ups and downs, but also offer us some important advice. Scroll through the list below to find some solace in the words of Judy Blume.

Enjoy all of life’s moments:
judy blume 1
Summer Sisters

Don’t let fear hold you back:
judy blume 2
Tiger Eyes

You have time:
judy blume 3
Summer Sisters

The most important lessons can often come from unexpected sources:
judy blume 4
Tiger Eyes

Never stop learning about the world around you:
judy blume 5
Summer Sisters

Cherish your relationships:
judy blume 6
Best Friends, An Autobiographical Essay

Be present:
judy blume 7
Summer Sisters

12 Things Happy People Do Differently — And Why I Started Doing Them

Author: iam@jacobsokol.com (Jacob Sokol)
Subject: 12 Things Happy People Do Differently — And Why I Started Doing Them

Author: iam@jacobsokol.com (Jacob Sokol)
Subject: 12 Things Happy People Do Differently — And Why I Started Doing Them

 

A lot of people have midlife crises. Me, I had a quarter-life crisis a few years ago, when I turned 24. There was no impulse purchase involving a red Mustang or electric guitar, but as my iPhone alarm woke me up bright and early for work one morning in my two-bedroom NYC apartment, I pondered, “Do I have everything — or nothing at all?”

My gut said that there had to be more to life than the rat race of what I was doing (IT consulting). But I just wasn’t sure what it was or who I could turn to for wisdom outside of “the Matrix.”

I decided to embark on a journey to find out. I quit my job, minimized my expenses, went to Hawaii and got very serious (in a wild sort of way) about discovering what made me tick. I found out there are a lot of people like me — young, energetic, intense, purpose-driven, but frustrated with the status quo and a little freaked out about our prospects for the future. I decided to dedicate my life to seeking out the wisdom we need to create extraordinary lives with a deep sense of purpose in a world of immense uncertainty.

Early on, I stumbled across this quote from Dan Millman [1]:

I’d always believed that a life of quality, enjoyment, and wisdom were my human birthright and would be automatically bestowed upon me as time passed. I never suspected that I would have to learn how to live — that there were specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world I had to master before I could awaken to a simple, happy, uncomplicated life.

That about summed up where I was and what I was discovering. I couldn’t just wait for happiness and satisfaction to find me; I was going to have to make my own. So I’ve been doing that and coaching others on how to do the same ever since.

One of the coolest things I found early on is that studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. Here are a dozen things that any of us — at any age or stage of life — can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives [2].

  1. Express gratitude.When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.

 

  1. Cultivate optimism. — Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times [3].

 

  1. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. — Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we’re somehow “better” than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates — KABOOM — our inner Kanye West comes out! If we’re “worse” than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made. What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.

 

  1. Practice acts of kindness.Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.) Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin. Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.

 

  1. Nurture social relationships. — The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely? WHOA! There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with. We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.

 

  1. Develop strategies for coping. — How you respond to the “craptastic” moments is what shapes your character. Sometimes crap happens — it’s inevitable. Forrest Gump knows the deal. It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan. It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.

 

  1. Learn to forgive.Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being. You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion. When you “hate” someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are toxic for your well-being. You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.

 

  1. Increase flow experiences. — Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task. Action and awareness are merged. You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional. You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.

 

  1. Savor life’s joys. — Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.

 

  1. Commit to your goals. — Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force. Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere. When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing. Counter-intuitively, having no option — where you can’t change your mind — subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.

 

  1. Practice spirituality. — When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever. It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”

 

  1. Take care of your body. — Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected [4]. Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft? Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

So there you have it. No new flashy car or leather jacket needed — just simple, scientifically-grounded wisdom for long-term happiness. These are all things you can start implementing today — with or without a career change — so I hope you pick one thing and commit to rocking it.

In my upcoming blogs, I’ll share more wisdom on all these topics and more. In the meantime, you can come see how my own wisdom-seeking efforts (and those of some other really cool purpose-driven peeps) are proceeding at Sensophy.com.

Footnotes:

  1. Millman, D. Way of the Peaceful Warrier. H.J.KRAMER, 1984. Print.

 

  1. Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin Press, 2008. Print.

 

  1. Tiger, Lionel. Optimism: The Biology of Hope. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979. Print.

 

  1. Loehr, James E, and Tony Schwartz. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. New York: Free Press, 2003. Print.

 

Author: Becky Striepe
Subject: 12 Best Yoga Poses Ever

1265077.large.jpg

Have you heard of super foods? They’re foods like kale and avocado that are more nutrient dense than other food on store shelves. Think of these yoga poses as super asanas! They seem to be the best yoga poses for…well…everything!

You know that yoga can benefit both your physical and mental health, but there are some that just really stand out to me. I do a lot of research on yoga poses, because I’m a strong believer in using yoga as a tool for a healthier you. Here are just a few of the yoga pose series I’ve put together here at Care2:

As you can see, the targets of these series vary widely. What I’ve been noticing lately, though, is that there are these "repeat offenders" whenever I’m compiling these series. Whether we’re talking about relieving aches and pain or improving mental health, these 12 postures seem to pop up over and over again. Not every pose is in every single one of my series, but these 12 poses seem to be a motif in my research.

Check out the slideshow to see the 12 asanas that seem to be the best yoga poses for practically everything. If you have a favorite super asana that’s not on this list, I’d love if you would share it in the comments!

Easy Pose

1. Easy Pose

Easy pose kind of is what it says it is. It’s simple and relaxing. Just sit in a criss-cross position with a straight back and your hands on your knees. A lot of practices combine easy pose with breathing exercises to add even more benefit. Some of the breathing exercises that you can do in easy pose are:

You can also choose to just sit in easy pose and focus on your breath’s natural rhythm.

mountain pose

2. Mountain Pose

Better posture, better balance, improved concentration and an overall sense of tranquility. What can’t mountain pose do?

Mountain pose is almost like the standing version of easy pose. Just stand up straight, with your shoulders rolled down and back and gaze ahead. Bring your hands into prayer position, and breathe. Mountain pose is the starting point for many standing postures, but it’s also very beneficial on its own.

Next>> Tree Stand

tree stand

3. Tree Stand

Balancing postures like tree stand help stabilize your body and focus your minds. What I love about tree stand in particular is that it’s a great beginner balancing pose, but it’s still beneficial for advanced yoginis.

To get into tree stand, begin in mountain pose, then lift your right leg and grab hold of the knee. If you’re comfortable there, you can move on by placing your right foot onto the inside of your left thigh, then bring your hands into prayer position. Once you feel good here, you can complete the posture by raising your arms above your head, like in the photo above. Stay here and breathe, then repeat on the left side.

The great thing about tree stand is that no matter how far into the pose you get, your mind and body benefits.

downward dog pose

4. Downward Dog

Downward dog stretches and strengthens the legs and spine while strengthening your arms.

Start off on your hands and knees, then curl your toes under, and straighten your legs. Make sure you pull your shoulder blades together. You may want to walk your feet back a bit to get comfortable in this posture. Once you’re situated, just focus on pushing down on the floor with your hands and keeping your back straight. Don’t worry if your feet don’t touch the floor – in time, you’ll get there.

Next>> Warrior II

warrior II

5. Warrior II

Stretch and strengthen your legs while improving your concentration and reducing stress!

From mountain pose, jump your feet apart, so there is about four feet of space between them. Turn your right foot out, so it faces the opposite wall, and turn your left foot in ever so slightly. Bend your right knee as you raise your arms parallel to the floor, then turn your head to gaze out beyond your right hand. Stay here and breathe, then repeat on the other side.

triangle pose

6. Triangle Pose

Triangle combines stretching and strengthening with more balance work for a total mind-body experience.

Begin by separating your feet so that they’re about three feet apart, turning your right foot out and left foot in, just like in warrior pose. Raise your arms parallel to the floor, then tilt from your waist, bringing your right arm toward the floor. You can grab on to your right leg wherever you can reach, if you can’t reach the floor yet, and raise your left arm toward the sky. Finally, turn your head to gaze up toward the sky. Try not to let your hips roll inward as you stay here and breathe. Repeat on the other side.

Next>> Standing Forward Bend

yoga forward bend

7. Standing Forward Bend

Forward bending is about facing fears by literally turning you on your head. It’s also a great stretch for your legs, neck, and spine.

Begin in mountain pose, and raise your arms over your head. Look up, then swan dive forward, bringing your upper body downward with a flat back. Release into the pose. There are a few variations that you can do in this posture:

  • Grip your elbows with the opposite hands, and hang out, letting gravity do the work.
  • Grab hold of the backs of your legs or your heels – whatever you can reach – and ever so gently pull yourself deeper into the stretch
  • Let your arms hang loose, with your hands on the floor, if you can reach, or just hanging out, if you can’t

seated forward bend

8. Seated Forward Bend

Seated forward bend has a lot of the same benefits of standing forward bend, but it’s a more active pose.

Begin sitting on the floor with your back straight and your legs straight out in front of you. Inhale, and as you exhale, flex your feet back toward you and fold forward with a flat back. Grab hold of your thighs, knees, calves, ankles, or feet – whatever you can reach – then relax into this posture. You can gently use your arms to pull yourself deeper into this stretch, just don’t force things too much.

Next>> Cat and Cow Pose

Cat Cow Poses

9. Cat and Cow Pose

Technically, this is two poses, but practiced together they are great for your back, neck, and for reducing anxiety and improving concentration.

Begin on hands and knees, with your hands right under your shoulders and knees right under your hips. From that neutral position, inhale and arch your back downward, tilting your head back. On the next exhale, scoop in your belly and push with your hands to arch the spine upward, and curl your chin toward your chest. Flow between these two postures, following your breath – for 10-15 repetitions.

pigeon-pose

10. Pigeon Pose

This posture stretches the hips and the front of the body while focusing your mind.

Begin on hands and knees, just like in cat/cow pose, and swing your right foot through your hands, placing the knee on the floor in front of you. Slide the left foot back, until the thigh is resting on the floor. Push up with your hands, and arch your back, lifting your chin and gazing at the ceiling. After 10 deep breaths, release your upper body forward, and rest your head on your folded arms in front of you. If you’re not flexible enough to rest this way, you can stack your fists on top of each other, and rest your forehead on your fists. Take another 10 deep breaths, then switch sides and repeat on the left.

Next>> Child’s Pose

childs pose

11. Child’s Pose

Child’s pose feels relaxing, but it is excellent for recovering after any strenuous activity.

Begin by sitting on your knees with your back straight. Bend at the waist, and rest your belly on your thighs and your forehead on the floor. You can either rest your arms by your sides or extend them out in front of you for a deeper stretch in your spine.

Savasana

12. Savasana

Savasana – aka corpse pose – is another posture that may not feel like much, but does a lot. You want to end any yoga practice with some deep breathing in savasana to help your body process all of the work that you’ve done.

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, and let your feet roll out to either side. Close your eyes. Focus on your natural inhale and exhale, and think about relaxing every muscle group, beginning at the top of your head and ending with your toes. Don’t skip the small groups, like the muscles in your face. These tend to be the ones that deepen your relaxation the most!

Do you have any yoga poses that you find yourself practicing more frequently than others? Share your super asanas in the comments!

23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing

Author: Emma.Gray (Emma Gray)
Subject: 23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing

It is conventional wisdom that we’re our own worst enemies and despite the cliche, the idea rings true. We often drive ourselves insane striving for perfection in our experiences, relationships and selves, and honestly it just becomes exhausting. So here at HuffPost Women we’re issuing a challenge to ourselves — and other women — to stop doing these 23 things. (Of course it’s all easier said than done, but to employ another cliche, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.)

1. Apologizing all the time. Research has shown that women actually do say “sorry” more often than men. We’re all for taking responsibility when you make a mistake — but constantly apologizing for having your waiter split the check or asking a date to hang out on a different night or telling a friend about your problems, does more harm than good. There’s no need to qualify everything you do. Own your preferences and decisions.

friends

2. Saying “yes” to everyone else. Yes, I will meet you for coffee even though I’m exhausted and just want to go home and crawl into bed. Yes, I will edit your resume even though I’m swamped with my own work. Yes, I will go on a double date with you, your almost-boyfriend and his awful friend who’s in town. Stop saying “yes” when you don’t truly mean it. People actually respect you more when you set boundaries.

3. Saying “no” to yourself. A lot of women spend a whole lot of time deciding what we can’t do or shouldn’t do or aren’t good enough to do. Don’t allow your insecurities and anxieties to make your decisions for you — you’ll only end up missing out on worthwhile experiences. So go talk to that group of people you think you won’t fit in with, stay out late against your better judgment every once in awhile and treat yourself to that blowout even if you don’t really need it.

4. Viewing food as the enemy. Women often receive the message that our ultimate worth lies in our looks. Our hair should be smoothed or perfectly curled, our makeup on at all times — but natural-looking — and our bodies bangin’ (read: thin). In the quest to achieve these impossible standards, it’s easy to see food as something to contend with rather than to enjoy. Be cognizant of what you put in your body — after all, it’s the only one you have — but try to do away with the guilt. Savor every bite of that gnocchi with gorgonzola or that Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream or those fresh cherry tomatoes. Food should not come with regrets. As Nora Ephron wrote, “I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.”

postres de cada signo

5. Body-snarking — out loud or in your own head. Stop putting your looks down, period. Nothing good will ever come of it, unless you’re working through body issues with your therapist.

6. Feeling like an impostor when you accomplish something professionally. Women are more likely than men to feel like “impostors” at work, often doubting whether we deserve the successes we achieve. Start taking your accomplishments at face value. You got that new job or promotion or grade or public recognition because you were worthy of it.

7. Obsessively untagging every “unflattering” photo of you that ever existed online. While it makes sense that you don’t want that photo of you blinking showing up all over your Facebook profile, we probably cause ourselves more anxiety than necessary making sure every image that doesn’t show us in perfect lighting doing something totally amazing goes away. It’s not only just one more way for us to obsess about our looks — after all, people will post what they’ll post and we have little control — but online photo albums have largely replaced physical ones. You may not want to remember the unflattering face you made at your brother’s graduation party now, but down the line you might want to conjure the moment.

internet addiction

8. Comparing your real life to someone else’s virtual one. Spending a ton of time obsessing over your own online life can be anxiety-provoking — but so can obsessing over other peoples’ virtual personas. Research has shown that Facebook addiction is correlated with lower self-esteem. And who wouldn’t feel bad sitting in bed on a Monday night scrolling through your ex’s vacation photo album or the enthusiastic statuses your friend in the fashion industry posted during a celeb-filled party? Instead of playing a constant game of comparison, which studies have shown can actually magnify feelings of depression, just close your laptop and enjoy the present. At least it’s real.

9. Holding on to regrets and guilt. “I’m pretty anti-regret,” Lena Dunham said at the 2012 New Yorker Festival. Guilt and regret are two emotions that usually serve to torture the person feeling them. Acknowledge your regrets and guilts, and then move on to the best of your ability.

10. Wearing heels every day. Look at this terrifying infographic and then tell me why it’s a good idea to force your poor feet into stilettos on a daily basis. We love a gorgeous pair of pumps, but embracing comfort (most of the time) will not only make your commute a whole lot more pleasant, but your feet a whole lot happier for years to come. Plus, flat shoes can be super stylish.

heels dress code

11. Judging other women’s sex lives. No woman deserves to be put down for who she sleeps with, how many people she sleeps with or how she chooses to express her sexuality. Next time you’re about to call another woman a “prude” or a “slut” just zip your lips. Even Miley Cyrus and her twerking shouldn’t be slut-shamed.

12. Judging your own sex life. No one needs to know your “number.” And honestly, you probably care a whole lot more about what the sex you’re having (or not having) supposedly says about you than anyone else does.

13. Trying to be “chill.” Maybe you truly are the “cool girl” who loves nothing more than kicking back with a six-pack and a movie. But for those of us who don’t possess the “chill” gene, let’s stop trying. Striving to be the mellow girl at all times keeps us from expressing our needs, desires and opinions.

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14. Fearing the label “crazy.” There is no easier way to discredit a woman’s opinion or feelings than to accuse her of being overly emotional. “I don’t think this idea that women are ‘crazy,’ is based in some sort of massive conspiracy,” wrote author Yashar Ali in a blog for The Huffington Post in 2011. “Rather, I believe it’s connected to the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis.” Being scared of the label only encourages women to silence themselves. Plus, everyone has a little bit of crazy inside of them — regardless of gender.

15. WebMD-ing everything. Your glands may have been swollen for a week but it does not automatically mean that you have a massive tumor in your neck. Step away from the Internet doctor and go see a real one if you’re truly worried.

16. Worrying that your life doesn’t look like Pinterest. You are not Martha Stewart. You will probably never make that DIY floating bookshelf. And your Eggocado will never look as delicious as this one does.

pinterest

17. Fearing being alone. There are certain things you have control over — like trying to go on dates, and actively meeting new people — and others which you simply don’t. Finding a life partner (or even a temporary one) is one of those things. You can’t pinpoint when or where or how you’ll meet someone to spend your life with, so stop freaking yourself out over the idea that you never will. And there are far worse things than being alone. “The most profound relationship we’ll ever have is the one with ourselves,” Shirley MacLaine once said. Preach.

18. Being in relationships for the sake of having a relationship. If you’re terrified of being alone, the worst thing you can do is jump into a relationship you don’t really want. Nothing good comes from tying yourself to a person who isn’t right for you simply because you feel the need to couple up. As Nora Ephron wrote when she launched HuffPost Divorce: “Marriages come and go, but divorce is forever.”

19. Not taking advantage of your vacation days. More Americans than ever are forgoing their (already meager) paid vacation days