It is 7 am on Sunday as I stand in the middle of a street in downtown Minneapolis. I see the hazy first light of the sun and feel the crisp October air filling my lungs. I’m surrounded by runners ready to race 10 miles to the capital in St. Paul. I feel their excitement and anticipation for the blast of the starting horn. All of sudden my tiredness is replaced by incredible energy. As I start a yoga class I often ask students, What is your energy level today? I encouraged them to tune in and practice according their level. Energy is mission critical for having a good quality of life. Do you pay close attention to your energy levels during the day?

So many different factors influence our energy. When we have a sleepless night we can feel a huge drop in our energy levels. When we have too much to do in one day we can lose energy. When we are doing a repetitive, mindless task we can lose energy quickly. Weather has a big impact on most people. The extreme heat makes most people tired. Cold wakes us up. People take cold showers in the morning and relaxing warm baths at night. Sunlight and being in nature can increase our energy. Notice how you drag on rainy day sometimes? Exercising at the right level gives us energy. Over training creates a raising of our resting heart rate and exhaustion. Music has an impact on our energy. My running playlist is different than my yoga playlist. Worry can also deplete our energy.

Finding a balance in nutrition and our fueling can have a big impact on energy. We can drag if we don’t have the proper fuel and go into a food coma if we eat too much. You might have heard of a sugar buzz, the burst of energy after a sweet treat and then the crash later. Protein provides more consistent long term energy. I know many people who use energy drinks and I have coffee in the morning. Lack of hydration can also deplete energy.

Balance is important!

I’ve mentioned in other newsletters some people (like me) are more sensitive to the energy of others. Certain personality types can totally deplete our energy. Judith Orloff writes about energy vampire types. The Narcissist, someone who is totally self-absorbed. The Victim who feels the world is always against them and doesn’t take action to change things. The Passive Aggressive who will agree to something then show up late or disengage at the event. The Rageaholic is someone who is always angry. The Drama Queen or King is someone who appears to be living in a soap opera. Sometimes we describe people as being exhausting.

I just finished a college course on Eastern traditions and Immunity. Many practices improve energy flow. Qigong is a system of healing and energy medicine that uses breathing techniques, gentle movement and meditation to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate life energy. It can be traced back 4,000 years to ancient China. There are many styles of Tai Chi an ancient Chinese martial art. It also involves slow, gentle movements, rhythmic breathing and concentration. Chi also known as qi, is the Chinese word for the life force or vital energy of the individual and the universe. It is known as ki in Japanese and prana in Sanskrit. Chi flows through channels or meridians in the body. I practice Chi Running to better utilize and conserve my energy as I run. Yoga poses and the breathwork in yoga will influence our energy.

The Jackson Browne song Running on Empty is how many of us operate. Here are a few lines

“Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running, too.”

Thinking of our energy as a gas tank, most of us don’t pay attention until we are running on empty. My suggestion is check in with your energy level a few times every day. Do you have things not mentioned that increase or decrease your energy? Let me know.