I rode my bike across Canada, was fit and healthy as could be with a strong body and stronger mind!
Ten years later I found myself over-worked, over-trained, tired, stressed and burned out. I had burned the candle a little to bright, both on the physical fitness and on the mental stress side of things.
Like so many of us, I didn’t realize when I started to need more rest, need more quiet, and to cut back on my physical activity I so loved. As a health and fitness professional, I ignored the warning signs I recognized so well in my clients.
Not much later I was officially diagnosed with negative metabolic output and adrenal fatigue. I was advised to take it easy and lay off my training routine.
I felt broken.
Years later when I came back to my old passion, Ayurveda, and took my certification as Ayurvedic health counselor, I saw clearly what had lead to my demise in the first place.
With a partial Vata constitution, I had, over years, slowly created an imbalance that had now manifested in all it’s ugly and frustrating form: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
In this post I would like to share with you some of the tips that have worked for me and that I give my clients in order to befriend their tired body and re-claim their energy!
1. Routine is Key in treating Chronic Fatigue
A steady daily routine is important when dealing with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). A Vata constitution or Vata imbalance often presents with fluctuating energy levels throughout the day. We tend to want to max out our high energy times, when we feel most energetic and most inspired to move and get stuff done. Only to pay the bill later.
At the worst of times one high output workout session could set me back three days where I was hardly able to get off the couch.
I know, dear Vata, you want to be active and have fun, but believe me when I tell you that steady is better than all-out. By having a steady daily routine rather then maxing out “pockets” of high energy, you will find that your stamina will increase with time rather than you getting more burned out.
2. Exercise Every Day
This may sound counter-intuitive after everything I’ve just said. Yet some form of exercise every day is important for a number of reasons.
If you don’t use it you WILL lose it, that’s a promise. This goes for stamina, muscle endurance, flexibility and strength equally.
Muscle strength decreases at a slower rate then cardiovascular and respiratory capacity.
You may not notice yourself getting weaker if you don’t exercise, but you will notice a decline in your cardio capacity fairly quickly, probably the next time you find yourself puffing up a hill, having to take numerous breaks.
I get my clients to do what I’ve done myself to balance out my tired streaks with my energetic all-out mornings:
Sun Salutations for Chronic Fatigue
This yogic practice is beautiful because you can adjust it not only to your energy levels, but also to your dosha or your doshic imbalance, depending on what your goals are.
If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, my suggestion is to start a daily practice of twelve Sun Salutations performed at a slow and steady pace.
Emphasize the stretch and holds for strength rather then trying to elevate your heart rate. Movement, timed with your breath and slowly paced, will raise your metabolic rate and induce sweating just the same without increasing your heart rate to a point that may have a negative effect on your energy budget later in the day.
In general, I suggest to measure your heart rate and stay within 55-65% max capacity. For most people this would be between 125-139 beats per minute.
3. Set yourself up with a Regular Meditation and Pranayama Practice
Meditation and positive affirmations are a wonderful way to increase energy without taxing your compromised adrenal system and exacerbating chronic fatigue.
I suggest to meditate on the Sun to create inner heat and a positive daily outlook. A mantra you may chose to meditate on is “Om Mitraya Namah”, which means “I bow to the sun, protector of love and friendship”. This reminds us to honor Prana, the life force which you are cultivating within you.
The keywords associated with this mantra- love, joy, support and compassion, remind you to be compassionate, to love and support and take care of yourself so you can be the best for yourself and those you love.
A wonderful Pranayama practice is Nadi Shodana, alternating nostril breathing, which balances the male and female energy, left and right, and all opposing energies within you. Another great option is Kapala Bhati, or skull-shining breath, which increases core temperature and raises energy levels within you without pulling from your adrenal system.
If you include these techniques into your daily routine you will notice that in not too much time your energy will rise and yet the anxiety you may feel about your Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may fall away, making room to inner calm and a more positive outlook on life.