Each and every one of us is a living ball of energy. Every atom, molecule, cell, tissue in our body creates the human energy field and our atmosphere is a sea of electrical and electromagnetic charges that interact around us. All belief systems are based on understanding how energy interacts with ourselves and the environment and by getting to grips with how it works, the idea is that we can make a difference to how we feel - both emotionally and physically.
“Energy is the source of life. In Traditional Chinese Medicine we call it Qi (Chi) and we read about the concept of Yin and Yang. In India, Prana is energy in all matter or life breath. In Inca tradition energy is called Kasaway Pacha and in Hawaii Kahuna tradition, energy is called Mana,” says Philipa Harvey, Head of SHA Wellness’s TCM unit. Then there is the concept of soul energy and mental (or mind) energy that play a part in dictating your emotions and state of well-being. By combining practices and techniques such as breathwork, yoga, eating a nutritious diet and acupuncture you can keep your energy levels at their optimum so you feel balanced and in control. Here Emilia Herting, co-founder of the health and wellness retreat, Escapada talks us through the different energy types and what relevance they have in our day-to-day cahoots.
YIN & YANG
The two sides of the Yin & Yang symbol represent two opposing energies that come together as one to balance each other out. Light and dark, black and white, male and female, night and day, slow and active - the mixing of the two makes life possible and allows us to realise what’s needed in order for us to feel properly balanced. When the two flow smoothly our physical and emotional state is in synch but stresses such as overworking, under nourishing, eating poorly and relying on paracetamol to hide ailments causes the balance to tilt in one direction and have a negative impact on us. “In Western medicine terms, the Yin and Yang balance can be comprehended as the balance of the automatic nervous system - the sympathetic (Yang) and parasympathetic (Yin). They act on the body in opposite ways influencing many organ functions such as heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate and sexual arousal. The Yin aspect turns on our ‘rest and digest’ mode wile Tang sets off our ‘fight or flight’ mode,” explains Emilia.
To ensure your Yin & Yang don’t see-saw and remain at equilibrium, it’s about identifying imbalances and counteracting them. “They need to be easy to integrate so something like ‘I am constantly overworking and stressing’ needs to change to ‘I need to increase down time and let go more.’ Or ‘I sabotage myself by thinking negative thoughts’ could change to ‘I need to start changing my mental energy to create positive thoughts and emotions.’ Yoga is another practise as it brings together passive holding and stretching poses (yin) which relax and soothe your nervous system with more dynamic and active poses (yang) that focus on muscles, blood flow, strength and flexibility,” she says.
Breathwork is another tactic that can be incorporated according to Maude Hirst, meditation and yoga teacher and founder of EnergyRise. “In order to balance these energies daily, it’s important to tune into what you’re feeling. If you’re feeling tired and slow, kapalbhati (fire breath) is a good one to activate the yang energy. Take a deep inhale then take 50 short sharp exhales through the nose pumping the belly inwards on every exhale,” she explains.
“If you’re feeling anxious or have too much energy, you need to slow down the breathing and find some stillness. Coherent breathing is a gentle breath - 6 seconds inhaling through the nose, 6 seconds exhaling through the nose - that will activate the yin energy.”
All of the above are considered the life force energy or vital energy, the name is simply down to which belief system you follow. “Prana is the name of Qi in Ayurveda but is a variation of the same thing,” says Emilia. “Qi is present in every cell, throughout our mind body and soul and is meant to flow freely throughout your meridian channel carrying energy to all body parts encouraging them to function in a healthy manner. Any blockages or disruptions may bring on symptoms such as pain, tiredness, the feeling of being stuck, a weakened immune system and ill health.”
No-one wants to feel constantly tired and lacklustre but there are steps you can take to get your qi on the move again. Acupuncture is known to correct imbalances while Chinese Herbal Medicine uses plants to aid deficiencies. Eating seasonal foods that are fresh and organic are considered to strengthen your life force and eating warming foods is said to increase the absorption of what’s being eaten to boost your energy.
Again, yoga is a go-to for clearing blockages and stimulating energy that can flow into the central nervous system and spine and improve your prana or chi. “At the end of a yoga practise, all of the accumulated energy is directed to the spine which translates to a feeling of blissful happiness where your body is in full balance,” says Emilia.
Also known as spirit energy, this is the most subtle type of energy and has a close affiliation with your emotions. “It can be translated in many different ways such as your mind, spirit, consciousness, vitality, expression, soul and energy. It can be seen as a sparkle in someone’s eye or an emotion when they are talking about something which inspires or brings happiness to them - all of which depend on the heart,” she continues. The heart is where your soul energy shows up so if your emotional energy is feeling depleted, this is where it will show up for you.
Which is why it’s important to embrace self-love, self-compassion and appreciate your worth. “To boost your spiritual energy, I suggest making gratitude a habit as it will transform your outlook on life as you start to experience an appreciation for the little things. Love is one of the highest vibrating states of being and has the power to pull you out of even the deepest of ditches so attune your heart to love and your energy will soar. Finally, consume high-vibe music, TV, books and movies. By making sure your entertainment is of high vibration it will leave you feeling uplifted rather than downhearted.”
The power of your mind is one of the biggest factors when it comes to energy levels. If you have mental energy in abundance it will show as happiness, confidence, focus and increased willpower, productivity and motivation but if you have a negative mindset or are lacking mental energy, it will lead to low mood and even anxiety.
“Where focus goes, energy flows,” says Emilia. “When you think positive you feel confident, you look confident and you will also perform more effectively, increasing the likelihood of success in whatever you are doing. Training your brain to think positively takes practice but can be done daily. Simply sit still, breathe deeply and think or visualise three things you are grateful for. Stay there as long as you wish and then carry that positive feeling into the day. If you’re truly present, the brain does not know the difference between what you’re imagining and what you’re actually experiencing in the 3D world. The more often you do this, the stronger the muscle will become and your mind will become better at thinking positive thoughts, boosting your mental energy.”