Monday, June 13, 2016

Yoga Poses for Dealing with Anger

This month on Alive in the Fire we're talking about how yoga can help us deal with emotions. Today's post offers a sequence of yoga postures to process and release anger.

On days when you are feeling angry, frustrated, or frantic, try these poses to help you expend energy and re-center.

If possible, do 3 rounds of sun salutations to warm up the body and link movement with breath.

Take cat pose. Place your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders, coming onto all fours. If you have sensitive knees you can place a blanket under your knees.

Allow your belly to soften toward the mat. Lift your chin and your tailbone, creating an arc in your spine. Invite a sense of opening.

Picture all of the intense angry energy that you've been experiencing gathering at your navel. Let it build and intensify there. Then, using a fierce lion's breath, exhale loudly through your mouth, sticking out your tongue, ha! Let the energy move away from your navel, to the throat, and then out of the body.

Do a few breaths like this, feeling a release of negative energy. You can also incorporate some cat/cow movements or maurading bear movements, circling the hips.

Next, transition through down dog and into high plank pose. Activate the leg muscles, squeeze your glutes, and press your heels toward the back of the mat. Press down and away through the palms of your hands.

Lengthen through the crown of your head and feel the long line of energy all the way down to your tailbone. You can always modify by bringing the knees down.

Invite the mantra, I am strong. Feel some intensity here.

Again, picture the energy gathering at the navel center. Take a big breath in, and then audibly exhale through the mouth (ha), let the energy move through the throat and out of the body. 

Relax the muscles of the neck. Release tension from the face and the jaw.

Stay for one breath more than you would like to (maybe starting to break a sweat!) and then slowly release, pressing back to downdog.

Spend the next few breaths moving around freely-- pedaling the feet, shaking the head side to side, stretching out the calves and the backs of your legs.

Then, inhale as you lift one leg, exhale as you bend your knee and stack your hips. Move your ankle around and take a few breaths here, feeling your hips open. Do the same movement on the other side (inhale, lift; exhale, bend and stack the hips).

Do three or four rounds on each side. As you move, picture any negative, angry, frustrated or pent up energy releasing from the area around the pelvis and moving down the legs, out the feet and toes.

Come back into downward dog. Step one foot forward, rise for Warrior 2 pose. Inhaling, take Reverse Warrior. Hold for 5 breaths.

Then, begin a wave-like movement between Warrior 2 and Reverse Warrior, inhaling as you reach up, and exhaling as you come back into Warrior 2. Let your breath be loud and purposeful.

As you inhale, you're drawing in peaceful energy, and as you exhale you're feeling the strength and centeredness of your body without the tension of anger or frustration.

Let your movement be graceful. You're standing firmly on two feet, feeling the emotion process through you and be released, right here and now.

After your warrior sequence, feel free to take a short rest in child's pose.

Next, come into Malasana, goddess pose (squat). Let the hips sink down. Press your elbows into your shins and lift up through your chest and the crown of your head.

Do three lion's breaths in this pose. On your inhale, fill your lungs completely; as you exhale, open your mouth and stick out your tongue! Make a loud sound. Let a feeling of release and relief pass over your body.

Transition to lying on your back. End your practice with happy baby and/or plow pose (halasana). Deep, slow breathing here. Close your eyes and take your gaze inward.

What do you notice now, in your body, versus when you started? 

Is there any lingering tension or angry energy that you can let go of?

Here's a summary of the YOGA FOR ANGER practice:
  • 3 sun salutations to warm up
  • Cat pose with lion's breath
  • High plank with audible exhale
  • Downdog (move freely, let go of any tension)
  • Leg lifts/ stacking the hips (hip opener)
  • Warrior 2 / Reverse Warrior waves on each side
  • Optional short rest in Child's pose
  • Goddess pose (malasana/ squat) with three lion's breaths
  • Happy baby
  • Plow pose
  • Shavasana 

May your yoga practice be an act of kindness toward your body, and a key to finding healing and peace. Namaste.

Photos in this post by Lucid Reflections (1, 4), Cait Loper (2), Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography (3), and Tom Huynh (5, 6). Graphic illustration created using Canva.

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