You took a deep breath and counted to ten. You remembered 6 things you were grateful for. You zapped the situation with love and light from your heart center... but, you're still pissed.
Just because you practice #yogaeverydamnday and realize how #blessed you are, it doesn’t mean that you’re exempt from one of the most human of emotions: anger. And you know that you don’t want to do something you’ll regret, or shove that emotion down where the sun don’t shine... so, what to do? How can you actually make something useful out of that powerful energy coursing through your body, making your blood boil?
First of all, just feel the sensations of the anger. Is it hot or cold? Wet or dry? Heavy or light? These sensations arise in your body before you can name them as an emotion. Get behind the story of your indignation and just feel it. This makes it less “sticky,” so you won’t keep telling the story to yourself over and over again, feeding the beast of rage.
Once you’re feeling your sensations, give them a pathway to move through your body and out. This helps you avoid “holding onto” the story and lets the emotion transform into its flip-side, patience and clear-seeing.
Try this yoga sequence for when you're angry:
1. Swaying Palm-Tree Pose (Tyryak Tadasana)
Begin by standing with the feet parallel and slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Interlace your fingers and, inhaling, lift your arms straight up alongside the ears. Exhale and relax the shoulders.
On the next inhalation, turn the palms up toward the ceiling and lengthen the body to the left.
Feel the feet planting deeply into the earth and try to lengthen both sides of the body even though you are bending to one side. Breathe deeply for 4-10 breaths.
Inhaling, return to center and exhale as you release your arms down. Repeat the pose on the other side.
Benefits: Swaying Palm Tree stimulates healthy functioning of the liver and liver channels, where anger plants its seed in the body.
2. Pendulum Pose (Dolasana)
Starting from standing, step your feet about shoulder distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your head, at the base of the skull. Inhale, lifting your face and chest and spreading your elbows.
The exhalation will come out in 3 parts. Make a “HA!” sound with each part.
- Drop your chest forward, centered between the legs.
- Bounce slightly, and bring the chest towards the right leg.
- Bounce again and bring the chest towards the left leg.
Inhale deeply as you lift the torso back up to standing.
Repeat 4-8 times. Avoid the posture if you have high blood pressure or glaucoma. If you feel dizzy, come to a squat or Child’s Pose until it passes. Also, if you have very tight hamstrings, bend your knees slightly.
Benefits: This pose releases tension around your voice and throat. It also helps to release the weight of frustration from the heart.
3. Animal Pose (Saithyaliasana)
Starting from kneeling, bring your hands to the floor and shift your hips so they come to the ground to the right of your feet. Bring your right knee forward and your left leg back, touching the sole of your right foot to your left thigh near your left knee. Shift your hips so that your right knee is pointing directly away from your center line.
Inhale and lengthen your back and then, exhaling, fold forward, aiming the center of your chest towards your front knee. Keep your right arm bent with the hand close to your right knee and lengthen your left arm out long in front of you. Breathe deeply and keep trying to square your chest and hips to the floor.
Hold for 8-108 breaths.
Benefits: This posture has a very subtle and deep effect on your hips and harmonizes the discrimination function of your liver with the expansive nature of your heart, helping you to develop and maintain healthy boundaries.
4. Pose of Hare (Shashankasana)
Sitting in a kneeling posture (Vajrasana), rest your hands on your thighs for a few moments while you focus on deepening your breath into your belly. Imagine you could fill your torso from the pubic bone to the pit of your throat with each inhalation and then empty from the pit of your throat to the pubic bone with each exhalation.
On your next inhalation, raise your arms straight up alongside your ears and then, exhaling, hinge forward at the hips, trying to keep your back straight. Only come as far forward as you can without straining or curving the back. Inhaling, lift back up to sitting.
After a few repetitions, allow your torso to come all the way forward, touching your forehead to the ground if possible before lifting back up. Focus on straightening and lengthening your back as you lift back up to sitting.
Repeat 8-20 times.
Benefits: This pose coordinates your deep, belly breathing with your movement, encouraging you to always move from your grounded, rooted center.
5. Roaring Lion (Simhasana)
Starting from a kneeling position, spread your knees a bit and turn your thumbs outward. Press your palms into the floor with your wrists facing forward to stretch your forearms.
Drop your head forward and inhale, lifting your head. Exhaling hard through your mouth, stick out your tongue as far as you can and make a “hhhhaaaaa” sound. Envision heat and tension leaving your body through your mouth.
Repeat 3-5 times.
Benefits: This pose releases excess heat and frustration from the digestive tract and helps to clarify your voice.
6. Reverse Savasana (Advasana)
Come down to your mat, lying face-down. Tuck your chin slightly and bring your forehead to the floor without squishing your nose. Interlace your fingers behind the base of your skull and rest your elbows on the floor.
Breathe deeply into your belly and relax. Stay here as long as you feel comfortable.
Benefits: This variation of Savasana helps to reduce stimulation and quiet the mind. It also causes the inhalation to expand into the lower back, helping to release tension and inflammation there.
Do this sequence and just try to stay mad. We dare you.
Let us know what you think in the comments below: which poses help you let go of some steam?