When we’re feeling low on energy, sometimes we reach for a snack, a coffee, a chai or a boost in some way. We often scrounge around for a substance we can “take” to give us energy.

But, real energy isn’t something we “take” — real energy is something we always have within already. We just have to know how to fuel it with the right things.

Not long ago, one of my clients said, “You know, I had low energy, so I was looking for a food that would give me more energy.” 

I said, “Stop. Were you physically hungry?” She said, “I don’t know.”

I said, “Well, if you’re not hungry, food won’t solve your energy problem. Just because we’re eating more food doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to get more energy and, in fact, if we eat too much food, we’re going to get even lower energy.”

A light bulb went off for her.

Then, I challenged her. The next time she’s feeling low energy, I asked her to bring full awareness and ask, “Am I truly hungry? Do I feel the burn in my stomach? Do I feel real hunger for food or do I just not know what else to do to enliven myself?”

When our low energy is not the result of hunger, we likely need what Ayurveda calls the “higher food,” which is prana.

When we consistently feel low energy, it’s because we are lacking prana.

What is prana?

Prana is life energy, our vital life force that keeps us going.

What does prana consist of? It’s food. It’s water. It’s breath. It’s moving our bodies. It’s nature. Write those five things down and put them in your head: food, water, breath, movement, and nature! All of those things bring in prana. They bring in the life energy to us and fuel our energy from within.

When we’re running low on energy, we need one more of these things: food, water, breath, movement, nature.

So! Low energy is just a falling of the prana and we can generate more energy any time we want to! Bringing in prana will give us more energy and vitality — it’s like fuel. And we need to refuel frequently (not always with food, remember).

Prana-boosting practices you can use any time:

Note: the key here is that inhales should be big and deep. Don’t be wimpy. Get lots of prana (oxygen) in!

1) Arm lift! Stand up, feet at hips distance. Lift arms straight in front of your chest, then (big inhale!) and lift them above your head, then bring them full circle (big exhale!) back to front of the chest. Do that 10x and see how you feel (go here for the video)

2) Big breaths! If there’s no space to move your arms, simply take a BIG inhale through the nose {pause} and exhale through the mouth {pause}. Repeat 10x. 

3) Walk! Push away from your desk and go for a 10 minute walk outside. Most office environments completely lack prana (except for the occasional plant) and computers don’t have any. So use nature to fuel you back up.

4) Squats! 10-30 squats. Feet wider than hips distance. Big exhale on the way down, big inhale on the way up! Bonus points if you do this after your walk. Triple bonus points if you persuade your office mates to do it with you!

5) Water! After all this, chug a nice big glass of water. Skip the sugar drink or bubble water because those tap energy. Water is prana.

If you have a desk job, I recommend taking breaks several times a day. You could set an alarm on your phone for maybe 10am, Noon and 3pm, to consciously recharge.

The breaks can be short — just a minute or two. Example: take 10 breaths, do 10 squats, drink a glass of water and get back to it with full presence zoned in on your work. If you did that 2-3 times a day, you’d feel amazing and likely perform better too.

Useful tidbit: According to Ayurveda, the nostrils are the two passageways that give a direct route to the brain. So when we breathe the right way, we fuel our mind with prana and since the mind is the control center, we then fuel our whole body with prana. We feel alive. We can focus. We feel happier. Our mind calms down. Our muscles relax. All the chitter chatter, monkey mind stuff goes away. 

Start to shift your awareness and use these vehicles that supply prana: food, water, breath, nature, movement. They are quick, awesome and natural fixes, so get creative in how you can sneak these in regularly as part of your daily schedule. By bringing in all these forms of prana, we will feel immediately uplifted and awake since we’ve generated the life force from within.