Yoga for Anger Management

The hit of COVID-19 has adversely impacted the entire world, from our physical health to economically and emotionally too. With the uncertainty towards the future, many people’s Muladhara chakras are activated/blocked as their jobs and livelihoods are at stake. Basic needs that we take for granted like our physiological needs and financial security becomes a huge worry for many people now.

During the circuit breaker, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), a non-profit gender equality advocacy group that runs a Women Helpline for women in distress, reported receiving an increase of 137% of calls on family violence. This is shocking statistics to know that there were so many reported cases of family violence. While there are many factors of family violence, one of the reason perpetrators turns to violence is because many do not know how to best manage their anger and had been conditioned to turn to violence from young. Anger turn violence directly contradicts with the yogic principal of Ahimsa or nonviolence towards all living things.

Anger is a normal part of human emotions and we all feel anger at some point in our life. How we react towards our anger is something that we can all learn to manage so that we can practice Ahimsa. Through YTT, I have noticed that there are some useful ways that we can use Yoga to manage our anger better. I hope that through practicing the steps below, we can all learn to regulate ourselves when feeling angry, and extend loving kindness to ourselves and others.

  1. Svadhyaya – identify your own triggers when you are angry

When I work with my clients, I often start with asking them to identify their triggers when they are angry. By practicing Svadhyaya, we self-study to notice these triggers when we are feeling angry, from the physiological trigger (hands clenching, heart pumping faster) to the situational factor. This awareness will then help us to be able to work on changing the pattern.

  1. Pranayama

The second thing that I always teach my clients are to practice deep breathing, or now I know as Pranayama. Pranayama or “life force extension”, consists of techniques designed for one to gain mastery over our respiratory process, acknowledging the connection between the breath, mind, and our emotions. When we are feeling angry or anxious, our breath usually quickens. In situations when we are angry, we can take a moment to step away and practice Pranayama to help calm the nervous system and release anger induced tension.

One such Pranayama that we can all practice is Anuloma-Viloma (Alternate Nostril Breathing). It purifies the nadis and promotes flow of prana, calming our nervous system. Moreover, breathing through our left nostrils promotes melatonin, thus promoting better sleep hygiene.

Inhale love, exhale anger

  1. Asana

Without a doubt, turning to the mat and practicing our Asana is one of the most effective way to manage and release our anger. Concentrating on the movement in our body and getting into the asana focuses our energy and concentration on the asana, rather than on the anger. Some asanas are especially helpful in releasing some of these negative energies built up inside of us. For example, starting the practice at Sukhasana (Easy Seated Pose) grounds us and connect us to the Earth. This simple pose helps center us, coupled with Pranayama, we can release the built-up tension within. You can read more here on asana to release anger if interested:  https://www.yogiapproved.com/yoga/yoga-poses-to-release-anger-2/

Chakra and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

One of my favourite topics is definitely, Chakra. Chakra literally means a wheel or disc, that enables energy to flow through or around it at various speeds, different directions, at different orbits, with a centre that is anchored to a fixed point. We have learned that there are 7 main Chakras revolving around our spine, from our Coccyx all the way through our spinal bone and finally at the cranium, of the top of our head. Each Chakra represents a state of consciousness and has a specific feeling, tone, bliss or emotion tied to it. What interests me the most is that if one chakra is blocked, all the other following chakras will be block too.

This reminded me of the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – a five-tier model of human needs in psychology, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid as seen below (courtesy to Simply Psychology for the image). Maslow’s also noted that one has to fulfill their most basic need before transiting to the next level, much like if our Muladhara Chakra is blocked, all the other chakras above will be block too.

Where the Muladhara Chakra is associated with our root issues, such as sense of security and safety, sense of belonging, satisfying our basic needs like food and shelter; it corresponds with the basic needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy where all humans will need to satisfy our physiological needs first before being able to consider our other needs.

The Svadhisthana Chakra governs our emotions, creativity, sexuality, intimacy, emotional well-being and self-expression. This corresponds with belongingness and love needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy where we look to fulfil our needs for interpersonal relationship.

The Manipura Chakra is associated with our self-esteem, sense of purpose, personal identity and individual will, which corresponds with esteem needs of Maslow Hierarchy Needs. Both looks at one’s ability to achieve which impacts our self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment.

The final tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy is self-actualization which looks at one’s realisation of their own potential, self-fulfilment, personal growth, and peak experiences. In my opinion, the Anahata, Vishuddhi, Ajna, Sahasrara Chakra are all steps toward self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy. Where at Anahata Chakra we surrender our self-centredness to selflessness, letting go of judgment, we focus more on compassion and love for others, and find joy in giving more than receiving. In Vishuddhi Chakra, we are able to live authentically as who we are, speak our truth, set clear boundaries with ourselves and others. In Ajna Chakra, we are in touch with our intuition and intellect, and able to evaluate our own beliefs and attitude. And in Sahasrara Chakra, we find detachment in illusion, gaining freedom over our thoughts and emotions that bound us and connect to our life’s purpose and spirituality. All these chakras together will help us to reach self-actualisation stage.

There is so much knowledge to draw from ancient text that can be applied in today’s modern society. How our ancestors have so much wisdom and foresight to come up with all these theories never fails to amaze me! As I continue to learn Yoga Philosophy, I see so much connection to Yoga and Psychology and it is intriguing to connect ancient knowledge to modern science!

BPSS of Yoga

The Bio-psychosocial-spiritual (BPSS) is an assessment model use to assess an individual/family’s situation based on the 4 broad components that allows for an overview of the individual well-being. Through attending the YTT, I gain a deeper insight to what Yoga is, beyond the Asana and it connected with what I do at my work. This is my attempt to combine what I know to what I have learn. It is very raw and maybe not well written (as my brain is slow in processing nowadays) but here goes!

Biological

Biology looks at one’s physical and physiological needs, such as food, shelter and health.

While in the 8 limbs of Yoga, one’s physical and physiological needs are not being emphasized. There has been so much research done on the benefits of practicing Yoga, in particularly, Asana, for our physical health. Each asana connects to different points to our body, stretching, toning, strengthening and even massaging our internal organ giving them a much-needed boost. It is no wonder so many people are now turning to Yoga, especially during this pandemic, keeping Yoga Teachers an evergreen profession!

In these 10 weeks of YTT, I also notice that my body has become stronger and somewhat healthier. It has been challenging, especially certain postures (like headstand which I still struggle with), but it is a process that with practice, will become easier.

Psychological  

Psychological assessment includes one’s mental health, emotional regulation, sense of self and values.

One of the biggest benefits of Yoga would be the mental wellbeing and calmness it brings to one after practice. I don’t know about you, but I always feel much lighter and calmer in my head after a yoga session.

Pranayama or “life force extension”, consists of techniques designed for one to gain mastery over our respiratory process, acknowledging the connection between the breath, mind, and our emotions. Pranayama is probably is one of the most accessible tool/skill that we can do anytime, anywhere to regulate our emotions. When we are feeling angry or anxious, our breath usually quickens, and in some extreme cases some might experience hyperventilation or panic attacks. On the flip side, when we are asleep or relax, our breath slows down. By consciously slowing down our breath and making it rhythmic, we can regulate our emotions by sending signals to our brain to slow down and keep calm.

I found Pranayama to be especially useful whenever I have a difficult or anxious client that I am speaking with. If I can regulate my breath and stay calm, the mirror neurons translate and helps my client to stay calm as well.

Social

One of the most obvious benefits of joining this YTT is making new friends. Going to class and meeting new people from all walks of life is so exciting as honestly speaking, with the pandemic, our socialisation can be quite minimal for now.  Coming to class every week has become so much of a routine for me now that I am going to miss seeing my classmates and Master Sree. As our class is on weekday evenings and all of us are working, it is tiring to travel for class straight after work even having to skip dinner due to the timing. But all that do not seems to matter when we step into class and just focus on Yoga. I really enjoyed the conversations and laughs we shared and journeying through this YTT together!

Spiritual

Spirituality is something that I struggle with as it is such a broad and abstract topic that has different meanings to different people. Some may associate spirituality to being pious to God whereas others might see it as a non-religious experience in search of something bigger than ourselves or meaning in life. For me, I would identify more with the latter, where I am not religious but trying to get in touch with my own spirituality.

In learning about the 8 limbs of Yoga, I learned that it serves as a guideline for Yogi to live a meaningful and purposeful life. From the first limb, Yama, guiding us on our moral and ethical conduct with our surrounding to Niyama, focusing on duties towards ourselves, self-discipline and spiritual observances. These serves as the backbone for Yogi to practise the remaining 6 limbs in order to reach Samadhi. It is important to acknowledge at this point that it is a process and journey to reach the 8th limb, one that requires ample amount of self-discipline and perhaps intrinsic motivation to do so. I am still at the beginning stage and it is a humbling awareness that I still have a long way to go.

Yoga to Relieve Menstrual Cramp

It’s that time of the month that all females dread. The mood swings, hormonal acnes, and worst of all, cramps. I’m sure many of you females out there will empathise as we all been through this, one time or another, some maybe have it worse than others. But regardless, we can all agree that it is a rather inconvenient and painful week we have to go through every month.

I was inspired to write this post really because I was having one of the worst cramps that it woke me up at night. I never really like taking medications and have refused to take any pain relief medications despite days/nights like these. Instead, I usually turn to using Yoga and home remedies, (i.e. rubbing a few drops of lavender essential oil on my lower abdomen) and eating chocolates and bananas to help relieve the cramp.

One of the many reasons I love Yoga is because of how it uses our body to heal itself just through simple asana. Here are some asana that I personally used that help me get through these dreaded days!

  1. Baddha Konasana

When you are on your period, diarrhoea and constipation comes hand in hand. This asana is particularly helpful as it helps to soothes menstrual discomfort and the digestive system.

  1. Supta Baddha Konasana

Similar to the previous posture, except you are now lying on your back. And who does not love a good excuse to lie down, especially when you are having cramps. Leaning back in this pose relaxes the abdominal muscles which helps ease the cramping sensation.

  1. Balasana

Simple yet restorative posture; child’s pose flexes our reproductive organs, as well as releasing the tension in our back, shoulders, and neck. Super calming and relaxing on the body, and on your mind too.

  1. Bharadvaja

One of my favourites as I am always having accompanying back pain during my period, reclining supine twist stretches the back and hips, relieving the backaches. The twisting motion also stimulates the digestive organs giving it a good stretch.

  1. Chakravakasana (Cat cow)

Another one that’s great for anyone with period backpain woes like me, cat-cow pose targets the back and abdominal muscles, giving them a good stretch and tone. It also warms up the body, helping to relieve menstrual cramps in the process.

I hope these asana can help you through your painful period cramps. And if all else fails, a cup of hot chocolate always helps warms the body and soul!

References:

https://www.lunette.com/blogs/news/7-yoga-poses-to-help-ease-menstrual-pain

https://www.doyou.com/6-yoga-poses-to-relieve-menstrual-cramps-37359/