Anger dresses itself up in many forms: simmering, smoldering, icy and red hot to name but a few. But basically, it all comes down to one pin point. Something is not going right. It may be my health, my family, my colleagues, other drivers, the world or maybe even the unlucky person who happened to glance at me in the wrong way.
Many people have uncontrollable anger which leads them into all sorts of sticky situations, while others keep their anger hidden where it may lay smoldering for years. Anger may poke its ugly head out in retaliation as a glance, words or an action. Whatever way we choose to express it or not express it, anger is incredibly destructive not only to our relationships but also to one’s own health and peace of mind.
To be released from anger is a spiritual endeavour which involves forgiveness and searching out deep and inner peace. This is not within the realm of yoga asanas and breathing. However these yoga processes can be extremely helpful in diverting, and managing anger as it arises so that others as well as ourselves are spared its most damaging effects.
According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, practicing yoga can help control anger by improving the factors that often bring it to the surface like stress, lack of sleep, and lack of emotional and psychological well-being. This study which took place within the prison system also found that yoga practices helped people become less aggressive and encouraged an improvement in antisocial behaviour.
Some poses are especially beneficial. Grounding poses like long holds of standing poses, seated forward bends and squatting poses help to calm the nervous system. Poses that open the area around the heart like back arches and poses where the arms are taken wide are said to soothe the emotions which spring from our heart. Some breathing practices like Brahmari, soft Ujjayi and Alternate Nostril Breathing help us to have control over our stress levels. While others like Sheetali are cooling whereas strong breathing practices like Lion and Kapalbhati are said to redirect our firey energy.
However to completely eradicate anger from our hearts involves the development of an understanding of my transcendental identity. It also involves consistently applying the processes of Bhakti Yoga which will thus bring about a deep and inner happiness so that all mishaps that might cause me to become angry are simply like water off a duck’s back.
By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training