Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Don't Get Mad, Do Yoga!

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Have you ever felt so angry, you could hardly see straight? Or maybe you were overwhelmed by fear and felt closed off and small inside. Perhaps, your brain seemed in a fog-- it was next to impossible for you to think clearly....

We've all been there.

Whether it's feeling mad, sad, afraid or even spacey, sometimes it seems as if we are stuck in particular emotions or a certain mood and we just can't figure out a way to move through it and release.

Have you ever tried yoga in cases like this?

Yoga's Health Benefits

You probably are aware of the physical health benefits of yoga. This practice is a fabulous way to increase your flexibility and strengthen core muscles in your body.

A regular yoga practice can also help you be more relaxed which usually means your blood pressure will stay in a healthy zone. Many practitioners experience a greater mental clarity and ability to focus as other positive side-effects of yoga.

Each yoga pose, or asana, targets particular areas of the body and even specific organs.

When it comes to your emotions, the asanas act in a similar way.

5 Yoga Poses to Ease Challenging Emotions:

Please research and learn more about each of these yoga asanas before attempting them. Yoga can fit just about anyone's fitness capabilities, but it is important that you be informed about the poses.

The asana descriptions I provide below are not meant to be instructional.

If you notice yourself feeling out of sorts but you're not sure why, take a few moments to tune in to what you are feeling. Give most attention to the emotions you are experiencing and less to any stories you associate with the emotions.

Remember to breathe...
Bring your awareness deeper into yourself and your body by breathing from your abdomen. Inhale slowly through your nose and allow your abdomen to move out away from your spine. Now exhale slowly and let your abdomen move back toward your spine to it's more usual position.

Yoga Pose #1: Mountain (*Tadasana)

Mountain pose is a deceptively simple asana. You basically stand up tall on the floor. Feet are hip-width apart and your hands are loose at your sides. Breathe and feel yourself connect with the Earth as you hold this pose.

As you might expect, Mountain pose can help you ground yourself when you feel flighty, scattered or you just can't focus. When you direct your attention to your feet as they connect with the floor and symbolically the Earth that supports you, you can more easily come back to the present moment and improved clarity.

Yoga Pose #2: Warrior (Virabhadrasana)

There are several variations of the Warrior pose. Most involve standing to the side with your legs and feet apart. Front foot faces the front and the back foot is perpendicular to the front.

Depending on the version of Warrior you choose, your arms will be out and parallel to the floor or up over your head pointed toward the sky. This asana often involves shifting your weight toward the front and slightly bending the knee.

If you are feeling fearful,weak, or ineffectual, try Warrior pose. As you stand in this courage-enhancing asana, you can feel into your own power that might before have seemed hidden.

Yoga Pose #3: Triangle (Trikonasana)

Triangle is considered one of the most essential and core poses there are in many yoga traditions. It is similar to Warrior and can be practiced in conjunction with it. Again, there are variations to Triangle.

Your feet are the same as in the Warrior pose. Your arms are out and parallel to the floor. This time, your legs stay straight as you bend from the side to reach your front arm toward your front foot on the floor as your other arm raises up behind you.

Triangle is the quintessential balancing pose. It can be extremely helpful if you are feeling stuck or stubborn about some belief or position you are holding.

You might be having a difficult time seeing another's person's point of view. Or it could be that you feel like you have “no options” in a situation.

If so, see if holding the triangle pose helps you loosen up and open up.

Yoga Pose #4: Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Downward Facing Dog pose is another favorite among those who practice yoga. You start out on your hands and knees and then slowly place your feet on the floor behind you, arms on the floor in front of you and your eyes comfortably looking down at the floor or your stomach. Your body forms a triangle shape.

Downward Facing Dog is a wonderful pose and stretch. And when you feel angry, constriction often results. Go into Downward Facing Dog when you are irritated or mad. The symbolic submission to the situation can help you release your anger and, perhaps, take a different clearer-headed view of whatever is going on.

Yoga Pose #5: Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)

The Handstand pose can be difficult or seem scary to beginners, but it can also be easily worked up to. Find a wall with plenty of space around and behind you. Start out facing the wall and then go into Downward Facing Dog with your hands and head near the wall.

Next, gently kick up into a handstand and allow your feet to land against the wall for support. Hold it as long as you are able to.

There are certainly times when a situation seems totally opposed to what you intended or wanted. You might feel frustrated or distressed about where you are and simply not know how to turn yourself around to point where you want to go.

Inverted asanas such as Handstand can help you literally turn a situation on its head! You might not be able to hold this pose for more than a few seconds at first, but the shifting benefits can still be felt.

When you are feeling out of sorts and stuck in a mood, take a deep breath and try some yoga.


*I have listed the Sanskrit name for each of the poses for your information. In a yoga class or other resource, these asanas might be referred to in the Sanskrit.

*Visit http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/info/downward-facing-dog.asp for fuller descriptions and graphics of all of the asanas described in this article.

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