When I first came upon my spiritual path, one of the practices I learned was energization exercises. These exercises were created by Paramhansa Yogananda back in the early 1900’s and put together into a series of 39 exercises that take about 10-12 minutes to complete when done properly. Most people in the United States see exercise strictly as a way to get fit and stay healthy but these exercises go much deeper than that. They teach one how to be aware of and control energy.
An often quoted phrase from Yogananda is “The greater the will, the greater the flow of energy.” This concept is used not only in his energization exercises, but in his teachings on healing and meditation as well. Most people see using one’s will as having tension, willing or forcing their way through something (like a diet) when in fact the will works best when used with relaxation. Calmly focused and directed, someone with a strong will can accomplish anything. A relaxed focused will invokes Divine Power, an aspect of God. Both will and power can be used improperly as we see with stubborn individuals and corrupt politicians but will in itself is not bad, but a necessary part of our spiritual evolution.
The energization exercises are usually started with a prayer. This is done to invoke the Divine, but also to remind us where this energy or power comes from. The goal of any spiritual seeker is to feel that connection with spirit instantaneously or continually, being able to shift our consciousness to the higher vibration or frequency of the Divine. By doing a prayer, we are training ourselves to “remember” that beautiful consciousness from which we came.
As one goes through each exercise, it is recommended to focus on the spiritual eye or 6th chakra. As you tense the individual body parts, you are to feel for the energy flowing through the medulla at the back of the neck, to the tensed body part, then feel the energy withdraw again as you relax. “Relax and feel” as he puts it. Initially most people have trouble isolating body parts or feeling any flow, but over time, if practiced with focus and concentration and not as mindless calisthenics, you will be able to send energy to injured body parts as needed.
These exercises are recommended to practice twice a day and are helpful to do before meditating. They help shift a scattered or tired mind, bring in energy, and tune one into the more subtle realities striven for in meditation.
I found myself initially resisting having to do these exercises as part of my spiritual practice. I saw them as “exercise” separate from meditation. But, as I opened up and developed over time, I began to realize the profound effect these simple exercises can have when practiced regularly with deep concentration. Now I am grateful for having this simple tool to support my spiritual growth.
To learn the energization exercises, you may purchase dvd’s, posters, or booklets through Crystal Clarity Publishing or to learn in person, find an Ananda Center near you. There is also a new app on iTunes that is really convenient while learning the exercises. It is only $1.99.
The picture is courtesy of The Expanding Light Retreat Center.