So you’re angry, or frustrated, or just a little snarky (hey yogis, we all get like that). But yoga is there for you, to calm you, and so you can dump that anger right down on the mat rather than unleash it on your poor friends and family, colleagues, or unsuspecting strangers.
You might think that when you’re angry and tense would be the worst time to practice — that slowing down is only going to agitate you even more and that you’ll wind up hating yoga, too (because you just want to punch that wall, ouch).
But that’s where the magic of yoga is counter-intuitive — just when you really feel you can’t stand yoga anymore you can start to love it — and magically, love yourself. And in the process you can let go of whatever (and whoever) made you angry in the first place.
Channel Your Anger
All emotions are valid, including anger. The trick is to get productive with the passion behind the anger, then leave the negativity behind. This is not so much about acceptance of your anger as transmuting it into energy that you can put into "conquering" that difficult or frustrating posture or breathing practice.
It may not be very yogic to push, but your negative energy needs to turn positive somehow — all energy has to go somewhere — so stretch, squeeze, tighten just that little bit more.
It’s not a boxing bag, but the yoga mat is a place to safely leave your frustrations. Sweat it out in a hot class or visualize a stream of resentment leaving your body in a deep hip opener. It hurts, but hang in there.
Let your fury fuel your determination if you must. Grit your teeth. Turn your anger into motivation on the mat. Practice asanas that frustrate you and channel the frustration you already feel in a way that is freeing.
Challenge Your Anger
This is about being the warrior in your practice. A Warrior series would be a great place to start to challenge your anger.
Man (or woman) up. This is about allowing the strength of surrender that you must bring to warrior postures (or other strong standing poses, particularly balance asanas) to take the sting out of your anger.
You get to feel that you are bigger and better than your anger. You understand that yoga is bigger and better than any frustration you’ll ever feel. This is about telling your ego that you don’t need to identify with your anger to fuel your identity out of a sense of separation — that yoga tells you that you are a complete, divine being regardless of external circumstances.
This not about feeling guilty for being angry (although there is always room for circumspection), but about acknowledging that anger serves no real purpose, that you are above and beyond it, and you will be a better person without it.
Calm Your Anger
Now that you have reduced your anger to a little knot through an attitude of determination and the power of surrender, all you have to do is sit (or lie) still with whatever irritation is left.
It’s amazing that what may have started out as a sense of rage can dissipate to a mere feeling of annoyance in the pit of your stomach. With breathing and with postures like Wind Removing Pose, you can physically mimic the release of anger from your body. You can literally blow and squeeze that last puff of anger out. Gently.
It’s wonderful how gentleness and softness can replace the hardness of hate — without violence, without fighting, simply with willpower and patience.
Forward Folds, Child’s Pose, Savasana — all postures to calm any last remnants of indignation. Let your exhalation be longer than your inhalation and experience the sense of release and relief.
Can you even remember what you were angry about?