Kimaya Singh, Faye Martins, and Sangeetha Saran
Can you control anger with yoga? Mindfulness and yoga practice can be powerful tools for managing and controlling anger. When we can connect with our body and breath, we can identify how the emotion manifests in our physical and mental forms.
By engaging in a yoga practice, we can better manage these sensations that arise when we are angry. In this article, you will learn more about how yoga can help us to control anger and manage different emotions through breathing techniques and mindful movement. We will explore how you can use various poses and practices to create better responses to stressors, helping to reduce the intensity of your anger when it arises.
Medical research has shown that yoga can be an effective tool for managing anger. A study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy found that participants who practiced yoga had significantly lower levels of anger and anxiety than those who did not.
Other research has shown that yoga can help to regulate the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s fight-or-flight response. When the autonomic nervous system is out of balance, it can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress, as well as physical symptoms such as a racing heart and sweaty palms.
By practicing yoga, we can help to bring our autonomic nervous system back into balance, which can lead to a reduction in feelings of anger and stress. If you’re looking for a way to manage your anger, consider adding yoga to your routine. Not only will you feel better physically, but you’ll also benefit from the calming effects of this ancient practice.
Top Yoga Techniques to Control Anger
1. Pranayama – This breathing technique helps to still the mind and body, promoting a sense of calm.
2. Meditation – Practicing meditation can help you focus on the present moment and let go of anger-inducing thoughts.
3. Asanas – Physical postures or asanas can help to release tension from the body, promoting relaxation.
4. Mantra – Repeating positive affirmations or mantras can help to reframe your thinking and reduce anger.
5. Visualization – Imagining yourself in a peaceful setting can help to quiet the mind and ease anger.
Can Yoga Poses Reduce Anger?
When you’re angry, your body tenses up, and your breath quickens. This fight-or-flight response is a normal stress reaction but can be harmful if managed incorrectly. Chronic anger can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems. Yoga can help you control anger by teaching you how to relax your body and slow your breath. Certain yoga poses can also help release the physical tension that builds up in your body when you’re angry.
Recommended Poses to Reduce Anger
1. Child’s Pose: This pose helps to calm the mind and release tension from the back and shoulders.
2. Cat-Cow Pose: This pose stretches the spine and relieves tension in the back.
3. Forward Bend: This pose calms the mind and releases tension from the back and legs.
4. Triangle Pose: This pose opens up the chest and shoulders, helping to release pent-up anger.
5. Camel Pose: This pose opens up the chest and throat, helping to release repressed emotions.
Yoga Nidra as an Adjunct Therapy for Anger
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep,” is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping. It is a deeply restorative and meditative practice that can be used as an adjunct therapy for anger. Our sympathetic nervous system is activated when we are angry, causing a fight-or-flight response. This response is characterized by increased heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. Yoga Nidra helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a calming effect on the body.
Reducing Cortisol Levels
Studies have shown that Yoga Nidra can help to reduce anger and aggression. One study found that participants who practiced Yoga Nidra had significantly lower levels of anger and hostility than those who did not practice Yoga Nidra. Another study found that participants who practiced Yoga Nidra had reduced cortisol levels, the stress hormone associated with anger. Yoga Nidra can be an effective tool for managing anger because it helps to calm the body and mind.
What About Flowing?
It’s no secret that yoga can help calm the mind and ease stress and anxiety. But can yoga poses specifically designed to target anger management also be helpful? The jury is still out on whether or not flowing yoga poses or vinyasa specifically help with anger management. Still, there is some evidence to suggest that it can be beneficial.
One study found that regular yoga practice was associated with lower levels of hostility and aggression. Participants in the study who did yoga had significantly lower scores on anger, hostility, and aggression than those who did not. Another study looked at the effects of a specific kind of yoga, integrative body-mind training (IBMT), on anger management.
IBMT is a form of mindfulness meditation that includes physical and mental relaxation elements. The study found that people who took part in IBMT had reduced levels of anger and anxiety compared to those who did not do the training. So while more research needs to be done on whether or not flowing yoga poses help with anger management, some preliminary evidence suggests that they may be beneficial.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed
Teaching Yoga poses that reduce anger will effectively detoxify negative emotions from the body and minds of your students. Angry feelings can be generated by frustration, a sense of powerlessness, or the subjective experience of being disrespected, to name only a few possible scenarios. Many Yoga students and teachers may experience a low level of chronic anger and frustration, often evidenced by having a short fuse and breathing shallowly.
When the breath is constricted to the upper chest cavity, the flow of prana, or life force energy, is also impeded. In addition, the lungs are not able to fully release carbon dioxide and other toxins when the breath is truncated. A shortened, shallow breath cycle is often unconsciously maintained to squash uncomfortable feelings. This can be pretty common among Yogins, who often pride themselves on being able to focus on the more positive aspects of life.
As a certified Yoga teacher, you can teach your students to shift their emotional state quickly by elongating and deepening their breathing. This is easily accomplished through Yogic breathing techniques, such as Dirga and Ujjayi Pranayama. Both breathing techniques help bring conscious awareness to shallow breathing or even a slight breath holding. As a Yoga student learns to become intimately aware of his or her breathing pattern, this awareness alone will allow the student to shift into a fuller, more detoxifying breathing pattern.
In addition, by teaching specific physical Yoga postures that release somatically-held negative emotions, such as grief and anger, you will further support your students in releasing negative emotions and memories that no longer serve their highest good. Anger is often lodged in the throat chakra, shoulders, neck, and hip areas. Just think of the saying, “She swallowed her anger.” When we swallow our anger, we constrict and close the throat area. When constricting the throat becomes habitual, the thyroid gland may be negatively affected over time.
Also, when we constrict the throat area to swallow angry feelings or sentiments, the shoulders often hunch up around the ears, and the heart’s cave collapses. These physical movements of emotional protection impede prana’s free flow. To release angry feelings that are being held in the physical body, teaching your students a balanced, well-rounded Yoga class, including the practice of pranayama, will help them to soften and allow bubbles of anger to rise to the surface of their consciousness and then dissipate, as they release angry feelings and negative thought patterns.
About Yoga Poses That Reduce Anger
Hip-opening postures are perfect for releasing pent-up fear, frustration, and anger. A hip-opening Yoga posture may be as simple as asking your students to sit in an easy cross-legged position on their mat and to bend over with their arms comfortably in front of them on the mat. This action will effectively stretch out the hip of the forward leg. After your students stretch out one side, they need to alternate the position of their front leg and stretch out the other hip.
Reclined Pigeon Pose
Another wonderfully effective and accessible beginning to intermediate hip opening Yoga posture is Reclined Pigeon Pose. The reclining version of this posture is usually practiced towards the end of a Yoga class and often just before Shavasana. This pose will be accessible to most Yoga students, mainly because it is practiced in a supine position. Reclined Pigeon Pose powerfully releases tension in the hips, shoulders, upper arms, neck, and upper back areas.
For your Yoga students to receive the most benefit from practicing this reclining asana, instruct them to apply gentle pressure against their hands with their shins when in the posture. This isometric action will help to release tension throughout the shoulders, neck, upper arms, and upper back areas. It is also important to remind your students to keep the toes of the upper foot slightly flexed and the knee of the upper leg gently pressing away from the torso.
Rewards of Practice
In this way, your Yoga students will benefit from a deep hip opening posture that releases stress and tension from the upper torso area. When these areas of physical tension are released, feelings of anger, frustration, and irritability will also be reduced. After practicing a balanced series of Yoga postures and cleansing breathing exercises, your students will feel lighter, more relaxed, and energized as they roll up their mats and continue with the rest of their day or evening. Yoga poses that reduce anger should be a part of everyone’s daily routine.
© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division