Forearm Stand Practice: Use Your Energy Wisely

In this practice, we’re moving to or towards forearm stand — pincha mayurasana. This is an inversion that requires quite a bit of strength, mobility, and a healthy dose of fearlessness. Most of all, it requires that you use your energy appropriately.

What does that mean, to use one’s energy appropriately? Let’s explore…

In the past few months, I’ve been teaching a lot. Teaching a lot in person, and creating a lot of online yoga content. This is work I love to do. Even when I don’t feel like doing it, I love doing it.

Does that make sense?

Even when I’m dragging my feet because I feel tired, or there’s something else I’d rather do, as soon as I start teaching, there’s nowhere I’d rather be. Teaching is rewarding and fulfilling for me, in a way that always makes it worth it. Every single time.

However, just because I love doing this work doesn’t mean it doesn’t take it out of me. To be honest, it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. It’s gotten me thinking about the use of my energy.

In the eight-limbed path of yoga, one of the eight limbs is the Yamas. These are moral qualities, or qualities of social conduct. They include things like non-harming, non-stealing, and truthfulness. You know, the stuff that makes us decent people.

Brahmacharya is one of the Yamas. Brahmacharya has been controversial over the years, as it has traditionally been understood as “celibacy”. Over the years, its definition has evolved to be “moderation”, or as my teacher teaches it, “right use of energy”.

I love this way of thinking about Brahmacharya, because it’s not just about moderation, though that certainly has its role to play. It’s about being mindful of where you place your energy in all realms of life.

What is “right use” of energy?

Everything we take in requires that we put some energy towards it — what we eat and drink, what we read, what we listen to, what we watch on tv, the conversations we have. Every activity we partake in requires that we give energy towards that activity. Everyone we spend time with is someone we’re giving our energy to.

And since energy in is energy out, each thing, activity, or person will return a certain kind of energy back to us. Some will revive and renew our energy, while others simply deplete us.

Binge-watching Netflix with a bag of Doritos requires a certain kind of energy, and it’s going to give back a certain kind of energy. And it is, by definition, energy that you’re not placing somewhere else. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on a Doritos-Netflix binge; if that’s where you want to place your energy, by all means! Sometimes that’s exactly what we need! But I invite you to do that mindfully, and with awareness. Make the conscious choice to place your energy in that activity and become aware of the state of your energy after that activity.

As you move through life, start to become aware. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, where are you choosing to place your energy? What are you choosing to consume? What kinds of activities do you make time for? Who do you choose to spend time with? What kinds of thoughts do you give energy to?

forearm stand practice

Forearm Stand Practice

And because our lives on the mat are a microcosm of our lives off the mat, in this practice, I invite you to pay attention to the energy you’re putting forth. You know that we’re heading towards forearm stand, so evaluate where and how you need to place your energy so that you’re ready for it.

Make the conscious choice to take each chaturanga, or to skip some or all of them, depending on where you want to place your energy. Notice the effects of each posture and each transition on your breath and on your state of mind.

Move through this practice with awareness; consciously making the right use of energy for you.