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: