What is fatigue? What is energy?

I’ve been practicing Sivananda yoga for 12 years. Over that period, I did a degree, began my career, became an M&A investment banker, and moved beyond bulge bracket corporate finance, too.

Recently, I went on a yoga retreat at the Sivananda Ashram in Orleans, France. We were doing two extended yoga classes of 1hr45 mins a day. We were also doing two meditations and chanting everyday. Days one and two, I was largely feeling tired and adjusting to the schedule (5.30am wakeup). Day three I was feeling pretty good, but needed an afternoon nap. By day four, my energy had ramped up, I didn’t want a nap, and I didn’t really feel like sitting down or vegeing. I literally had so much energy. This pattern was almost universal amongst the people at the retreat, and it’s been my pattern on previous retreats.

It really made me think – what is fatigue? What is energy? What makes me feel tired or energised?

Sleep is part of it. But at the ashram you don’t sleep very much, yet have a lot of energy. Other times, I can be well rested and still feel lethargic. Getting angry makes me feel tired. A great concert gives me a ton of energy. So energy and fatigue are about something to do with the state of mind, the emotions, in addition to being about sleep.

Yoga was designed to calm the mind. It seems to accomplish this physically, by invigorating and relaxing the nervous system, and through the breath, where the breath work we do focusses the mind. Of course, this is the type of thing you have to experience for yourself, and having experienced it so many times now, I’m pretty much willing to take it to the bank now – the yoga, the breathing exercises, are fatigue busters. They
don’t really take time, they give you time. And since that’s what they were designed by generations of practitioners to do, I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised, and yet somehow I continue to be.

Image: the rose garden, Greenwich